Tacoma police: Son turns himself in, admits to killing father

Tacoma police: Son turns himself in, admits to killing father »Play Video
Jonathan Meline

TACOMA, Wash. -- A beloved teacher was murdered and a suspect was arrested, and now police say the man who confessed to the killing is the victim's own son.

Police say Jonathan Meline calmly walked into Pierce County jail early Thursday morning and confessed to killing his father, Rob Meline.

The murder has shocked the community and left a school trying to cope with the loss of a beloved teacher.

The motive for the killing is so far unknown, but what is known is that Jonathan Meline suffers from severe mental illness and has been in and out of Western State Hospital.

"Jonathan has a history of schizophrenia and it has escalated in his behavior over the past 10 years or so," said Kerry Morrison, the victim's sister in law.

Police say Rob Meline died of what is called blunt force trauma, meaning he was beaten to death in some fashion.

"Rob was very loved. A devoted family man and an amazing teacher and it's just a huge loss to the community," Morrison said.

In the past, Jonathan Meline had been arrested for car theft, but was ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial. Morrison said he had been in and out of Western State Hospital over the years.

"The hope always would be that that's where he would stay on a permanent basis, and because of funding in the state has been released on a number of occasions," she said.

Neighbors say Jonathan was a little different, but they did not think he was violent.

"He seemed like an interesting guy. He used to sing songs and talk to God and stuff. He didn't seem like he'd hurt anyone," said neighbor Cameron Afzal.

As for Rob Meline, he was a much loved, much respected teacher at Camas Prairie Elementary School in the Bethel School District.

"Obviously, it's a huge loss for the community and I'm very sad for everyone involved," said neighbor Donny Vegas.

One of Jonathan's sisters went with him to turn himself in. The siblings walked to the jail, which police can't figure out because it's two and a half miles away.