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The Times' criminal justice team looks behind the scenes and behind the headlines.

October 29, 2009 at 12:27 PM

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UPDATE: Man who 'disappeared' during bus trip found in Kent

Posted by John de Leon


Walter Palmer

-- From Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green:

Walter Palmer, an elderly Kent man who boarded a Greyhound bus in Seattle last week bound for Los Angeles but failed to arrive at his destination, was found back in Kent on Wednesday afternoon.

It turns out that Palmer had made it to Sacramento, Calif., by bus but was intercepted by his sons, who brought him back to Washington, even though the 82-year-old wanted to relocate to California, said Kent Police Lt. Lisa Price.

Wednesday night, federal agents escorted him to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and put him on a plane to L.A., said Ronald Legan, special agent in charge of the Seattle field office of the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General. Palmer's plane touched down at 7:30 p.m. and he was met by his sister and his niece.

"I'm so happy he's here," said his youngest sister, Barbara Murdock of Compton, Calif. "He's a little confused about what's going on but I said, 'Brother, you just have to wait until we get everything settled.'"

VA officials are now working to find housing for Palmer, Murdock said.

Palmer, who had been living at a seniors' independent-living facility in Kent, boarded the bus to L.A. on Friday afternoon, according to Murdock and other family members who contacted The Seattle Times after he went missing.

Wednesday afternoon, Kent police, state Department of Corrections officers and an agent with the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General went to a residence in Kent and found Palmer sitting on the couch watching TV, according to Price and Legan.

The Social Security Administration is investigating allegations that someone is taking or misusing Palmer's Social Security and military-retirement benefits, said Legan, who declined to provide further details.

Kent police found no evidence of a crime in connection with Palmer's return to Washington, said Price.

But the state Department of Corrections has since issued a warrant for the arrest of one of Palmer's sons, Richard Patterson, for violating a condition of his community supervision, said spokesman Chad Lewis. Patterson, 39, served a 12-month sentence on a drug charge and was released from custody in August, Lewis said.

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