Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

March 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Former co-worker pleads guilty in 1996 slaying of Kirkland mother

Sandi Johnson (Seattle Times archives)

Sandi Johnson (Seattle Times archives)

A man who was extradited from Montana last year to face charges in connection with the 1996 death of a Kirkland woman pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in King County Superior Court on Friday.

Clifford E. Reed, 60, was originally charged with second-degree murder for the slaying of 28-year-old Sandi Johnson, whose skeletal remains were found near Highway 410 in Pierce County in 2004, eight years after she disappeared.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Reed was obsessed with Johnson, his co-worker at Bowen Scarff Ford in Kent, and that before her disappearance he told friends and neighbors that they were in a relationship and would eventually marry.

“In reality, Sandi did not return his affections, denied any romantic relationship, and told friends Reed needed to leave her alone,” an investigator wrote in the charging documents.

On the day she disappeared in April 1996, Johnson left her Kirkland home to run errands and meet a friend for lunch at Bellevue Square. She had told friends she planned to spend the day preparing for her son’s two birthday parties that weekend. But she never made it to lunch, didn’t pick up her two children from a baby-sitter that evening, and didn’t make it to her son’s birthday party the next day.

Two days later, Johnson’s wallet was found in the parking lot of a Rainier Valley hardware store, 20 miles from her home. Two days after that, her station wagon was found in a grocery-store parking lot near Tukwila. Police found the keys in the ignition and Johnson’s cellphone in plain view. The car doors were unlocked.

Reed was arrested at his Victor, Mont., home in 2012 and extradited to Washington last year.

Prosecutors say they agreed to let Reed plead guilty to manslaughter instead of murder because the evidence in the case had degraded over time and the manner of Johnson’s death was never established. Because of that,  it would have been difficult for prosecutors to prove his intent at a trial, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

At his sentencing hearing, scheduled for April 11, Reed faces a sentence range of about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years, which is in line with 1996 sentencing standards.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: 1996, cold case, Kirkland


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►