A Birch Bay woman is being held on suspicion of driving her boyfriend to the site of an attempted murder and robbery on May 2, which then escalated into a high-speed chase and the suicide of the alleged attacker.
According to county prosecutor Dave McEachran, on the morning of May 2, Lesley Villatoro drove her boyfriend, Chad Horne, 34, to the 5300 block of Patriot Lane in Ferndale where he then forced his way into a woman’s home and held the woman at gunpoint.
McEachran, who recounted the details of the case to the court, said Horne held the woman’s two young children hostage and ordered her to start her car, a black Chevy Tahoe. Horne then proceeded to bind the victim with zip ties and slash her throat with a knife. He then fired a shot at her, which missed, and fled the scene in the victim’s Tahoe.
The woman was able to free herself and make it to a neighbor’s house, who promptly called the police. She was rushed to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center. Her injuries made her unable to speak, but she was able to write out the details of the attack for investigators. The woman’s name is being withheld to protect her safety until the investigation is concluded, but Lt. Bob Vander Yacht of the Bellingham Police Department confirms in a press release that she is in serious condition. Her children were unharmed during the attack.
County 911 dispatchers received calls within minutes of the attack on Patriot Lane, the first claiming that shots had been fired from a rifle at Ferndale High School, the second about a shooter in the parking lot of Home Depot in Bellingham. Both calls were found to be hoaxes, and McEachran believes Horne placed the calls to divert police resources away from the site of his attack.
The police quickly caught up to Horne in the black Tahoe, and were able to run him off the road. Horne shot himself in the head before any deputies could reach him, and he died from his injuries at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.
Inside the black Tahoe, police found a 7-inch knife, a gun, a cellphone, a black mask and gloves, zip ties and a container of bleach, which McEachran said can be used to remove DNA evidence and fingerprints. A search of Villatoro’s car revealed a similar container of bleach, as well as a police scanner and a satchel full of men’s clothes and shoes.
Villatoro is being held on probable cause of complicity to burglary, robbery, three counts of kidnapping and first-degree attempted murder. Bail was set at $1 million.
According to courtroom testimony by McEachran, Villatoro confessed that Horne had planned the entire crime, and that she was expected to meet him 30 minutes after dropping him off. When he didn’t appear at the designated time, Villatoro checked the Bellingham Herald’s website and learned that Horne was dead.
As of yet, there has been no motive established for these crimes. A cooperative force from the Ferndale police, Bellingham police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office have been assigned to investigate.
Villatoro shared a home with Horne on Rock Crab Drive in Birch Bay. From her appearance in court, she seemed to be pregnant.
Anyone with pertinent information to the case should contact Bellingham detective Sue Howell at 360/778-8682.