The Murders of Jessica Lewis & Austin Wenner
Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner were shot and dismembered before being placed, then dumped in several suitcases in the Puget Sound area of Seattle, Washington. A group of teenagers that had been making a TikTok video discovered the remains. Michael Dudley, the couple’s landlord, was convicted of their murders.
On June 19, 2020, three teenagers were making a TikTok video, while walking along Alki Beach, near Luna Park, on the westside of Seattle, Washington. The teens discovered a suitcase tucked away among the boulders of the shoreline. They opened the suitcase out of curiosity and discovered a large black trash bag that had a horrible smell. They called 911 immediately.
When the police arrived, they opened the trash bag and discovered the dismembered remains of a victim. Upon further inspection of the area, they found several additional bags floating in the water nearby. Over the next few days, investigators discovered additional suitcases that contained remains.
The teenagers posted the TikTok video, which garnered over 30-million views. It was later removed out of respect for the victims and their families.
The King County Medical Examiner determined the identity of the victims as Jessica Lewis, 35, and Austin “Cash” Wenner, 27; both from Burien, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. The medical examiner also determined Lewis had sustained multiple gunshots while Wenner had one to his torso area. Both victims had been beaten before being shot, then dismembered so they would fit into suitcases prior to being discarded in the Puget Sound. Investigators determined the entire series of events would have taken a considerable amount of time.
Investigators looked into the lives of the victims, hoping to discover further information. They found that Lewis and Wenner rented a room in the home of a Burien man, Michael Dudley, 62. Detectives began canvassing the 16000 block of Ambaum Boulevard South, asking neighbors if they had seen or heard anything suspicious. Several neighbors stated they had heard arguing and gunshots on the evening of June 9, 2022. They also reported Burien police had been called. However, when the police arrived, the residence was quiet and there was no answer when they knocked on the door.
When investigators looked at his cell phone GPS, it showed that Dudley had been in that same area the day before the victims had been discovered.
After several interviews, detectives determined they had enough probable cause to arrest Michael Dudley for the murders of Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner. When they searched the room Lewis and Wenner had been rented, they discovered bullet holes, spent rounds, shell casings, and blood. When questioned, Dudley stated he couldn’t explain why those things were in his home. After processing the scene and speaking to neighbors, detectives established what they believe took place.
Detectives believe that on the night of June 16, 2022, Dudley confronted Lewis and Wenner regarding not paying their rent. They believe that an argument ensued and ended when Dudley shot and killed both victims of the room they had been renting. He then dismembered them to fit their remains into black trash bags and several suitcases. Dudley then dumped the suitcases,, which were discovered by the teenagers in the greater Puget Sound Waterway area.
Michael Dudley was arrested on September 8, 2022, for two counts of second-degree murder and was held in the King County Jail, Seattle, Washington. A judge set his initial bail at $5 million.
On December 8, 2022, a jury found Dudley guilty of four counts of second-degree murder (due to the acts he was convicted of), and one count of firearm possession during the commission of a crime. A sentencing date has not been set.
Following the conclusion of the trial, Gina Jaschke, Jessica Lewis’s aunt, stated, “We are so relieved and happy that justice was served. Our families have grown closer together, where tragedy sometimes rips them apart. I am just thankful Michael Dudley’s reign of preying on those less fortunate has come to an end.”