FOLLOWUP: Suspect charged with murder in beating death at encampment

Just in from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: 43-year-old Aaron Rillera is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly beating 24-year-old Dillon Graham to death with a baseball bat. It happened Monday afternoon at an encampment on the slope between Highway 509 and Myers Way. We first reported on the investigation that afternoon, on Rillera’s arrest the next day; Graham was identified yesterday.

Court documents filed along with today’s charging papers say witnesses told police it started when a woman came to one of four encampments on the slope claiming that the victim was trying to rob another woman. The first person she approached didn’t want to get involved; he said the two women came to his encampment later and said “AJ” – later identified as Rillera – had “taken care of” Graham by hitting him. Police found Rillera and two women – one of whom was the alleged robbery target – near his encampment, described as a “large, fort-like camp” and took all three in for questioning. They also later questioned the first woman who had been seeking help. The woman that the victim allegedly was trying to rob said he had hit her and pushed her to the ground. She said she didn’t know the other woman had gone for help, but that Rillera and another man showed up with bats, and she said she didn’t see what happened because she turned away. Graham was described as an occasional visitor to the encampment, not a resident. Rillera remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail and is expected in court to answer the charge on June 22nd.

25 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Suspect charged with murder in beating death at encampment"

  • Chuck June 8, 2017 (3:47 pm)

    Ugh. What a tragedy all around. Frontier justice no longer works in a settled land.  But to these homeless campers, frontier justice is all they have. What a vicious cycle.

  • erm June 8, 2017 (4:03 pm)

    I’m so sorry that Dillons family knows this police report.  Just an awful situation.  Addiction is heartbreaking.  And these tent communities are scary places to me.

    • Alki Resident June 8, 2017 (5:43 pm)

      Where did it say anything about addiction?

      • erm June 9, 2017 (10:29 am)

        In a previous thread Dillon’s sister mentioned he was entering a treatment facility coming up very soon.

  • flimflam June 8, 2017 (4:59 pm)

    very sad. there is not one good reason to allow “camps” like this to continue.

  • JTB June 8, 2017 (4:59 pm)

    Well, we can decide. Either fund a program or series of programs that try to develop effective ways to deal with homelessness and drug addiction, or let the problem fester.  In either case, we all will have to deal with the consequences. 

    • Guy Olson June 9, 2017 (9:30 am)

      Well put!!

  • steve June 8, 2017 (5:30 pm)

    So where is the other bat man/accomplice? 

  • Hrmmm June 8, 2017 (5:47 pm)

    Ok, so likely drug activity.  A guy with a violent criminal history and a murder,

     by baseball bat.  Let’s promote more camps!  Let’s pretend they are a “community” and that they just need a leg up.   What a great idea!

    I’m obviously being sarcastic, but this is how a portion of the responses will likely go here.  I say  sweep the woods.  Boot them out.  Arrest those with warrants or who are unregistered sex offenders.  Offer help to those who want it who are addicted.

    If people refuse the help and prefer to camp and shoot drugs, then arrest them too.  This is not a legal campground and shooting heroin is illegal.  Yes, put them in jail where they might detox if they won’t voluntarily get help with addiction.

    Cruel?  No.  Beating each other up over drugs in the woods is cruel.  Let’s get our priorities straight here.  Addiction sucks, but the downstream effects are crimes.  Violent ones.   

    • WSB June 8, 2017 (5:55 pm)

      This area on the east side of Myers-to-509 has no sanctioned encampments. When I last asked the city if it’s true that the area – where city/county/state jurisdiction seems to zigzag – would be swept soon, this hadn’t yet been ruled homicide; we’ll be asking again, as homicidal violence seemed to be what finally accelerated, for example, sweeping of the infamous Jungle by I-5.

    • JanS June 8, 2017 (7:44 pm)

      Dear Hrmmm…I’m pretty sure this was an independent campsite, not part of an organized one…campers removed from one site will move somewhere…

    • pw June 10, 2017 (8:35 am)

      Nailed it!!   Unfortunately, our city leaders are more concerned with the appearance of concern about this and many city issues,  for a few very small special interest groups (relative to city population), than doing what needs to be done.

  • JoB June 8, 2017 (8:12 pm)

    I don’t know if it’s true, but the residents have been under the impression that they would be swept for some time.  There has been heavy pressure to move the more responsible campers across the street into the sanctioned campsite.
    Periodically selected areas are cleared of campers and cleaned up..  it seems to me that one of those sweeps happened not that long ago… but the areas never seem to stay cleared for long.
    the biggest problem is that even if people are jailed and forcefully detoxed they have no other place to go and very limited options for employment when they are released..
    and sooner or later they will be released…
    jailing them is not the answer.

  • TW June 9, 2017 (1:00 am)

     This is a very tradgic and violent end to 24 year-old Dillon Harper’s young life. My thoughts and prayers are wiith his friends amd family during this time. I can’t help get upset about that every time something unfortunate or bad happens to Seattle’s homeless it seems the general public is all too quick to jump on the homeless insulting bandwagon. They want to blame drugs, GARBAGE, “waste water”, tents, yelling, theft, etc. No one mentions how much of a disadvantage “us” homeless are up against everyday!! From something as menial as going to the restroom or obtaining clean drinking water can consume a person’s whole day, especially because the upper class business and home owners seem to get pleasure in getting one over on us yet again. Like putting padlocks on dumpsters or portable toilets. 
    “HAHA! That will show them and keep those vagrants away from us!” Is what I hear often.

        I,too, am apart of seattle’s i, and I’m damn proud I survived the past 4 years. I was “normal” too, raising my 3 boys, and living with a verbally abusive husband of almost 10  years. I had to leave in a haste, without a plan, and alone without my boys or any money for my own safety. After which i had a nervous  breakdown, litterally forgetting how to think and survive on my own. But with the help of my fellow “bums” I learned a new way of living and I”m grateful tha.t I am alive to tell my story. 

        AS A comunity, we should be lifting each other up, being good examples to the public. A lot of deaths and violence could have been prevented if only there wasn’t such an importance on personal possessions and shallow morals. 

    • Double Dub Resident June 9, 2017 (4:49 am)

      Yes, Heaven forbid I would be concerned about self entitled POS taking from me what I worked hard for and earned and they did not. 

      Heaven forbid I be concerned about my family, because ask any police officer who has dealt with homeless encampments such as the Jungle and they will tell you that crime such as assault, rape, theft, drug use, etc. are at much higher levels than the general population. Ask an officer where they often times find unregistered sex offenders and they will say homeless encampments. 

      Heaven forbid I be concerned about my daughter picking up a dirty needle at a park because some Heroin addict thoughtlessly – carelessly – and selfishly just left it there. 

      There are people that truly need help. There’s a homeless black man I used to see in West Seattle all the time(haven’t seen him in quite some time) who had severely mental handicaps to the point where he could barely speak and who sold Real Change. That man needs and deserves help. 

      But when I pass by homeless encampments /RV encampments and see someone dancing around obviously high as his buddies are still smoking something out of a makeshift pipe,  surrounded by a dozen (most likely stolen) bicycles in various states of disarray and (most likely stolen) propane tanks, I don’t really have any compassion for that, because these people aren’t just down on their luck. 

      They have made bad decision after bad decision after bad decision to the point where they alienated all their friends and family and burned all their bridges due to their behavior and are where they are because of that. 

    • Chipotlebbq June 9, 2017 (9:29 am)

      It’s not too late, TW – maybe you can get cleaned up, and be with your kids again..

      • CAM June 9, 2017 (2:54 pm)

        Cleaned up? From being a victim of domestic violence? I think you might be jumping to some conclusions. 

        • Coldheart Craig June 9, 2017 (3:32 pm)

          There are resources for battered women that don’t involve staying in illegal encampments with murderers and thieves. Most of them won’t require you to abandon your children with the abuser as ‘TW’ did.

          • CAM June 9, 2017 (6:37 pm)

            I’m sorry but there is no way that anyone commenting on this can have any idea what TW is facing or how she should be solving her current situation. If you reread what she wrote she makes no mention of being an addict or being a criminal but that is all that anyone has said in response to her. Yes, there are resources out there and there’s just as many reasons that a person might not be able to access those resources in any given moment. She wrote asking for compassion and a reduction in the insulting language people are using and she was responded to with more insults and stereotyping. There are a multitude of reasons a person can end up homeless. Drugs and crime are only 2 of them and yet they are the automatic go to assumption. I would say she has more than adequately proven her point. 

    • Ms. Sparkles June 9, 2017 (3:15 pm)

      I believe that putting padlocks on dumpsters and portable toilets on private property is about keeping garbage from being strewn about and portable toilets in working order, not “HAHA that will show them.”

      If some people didn’t trash these things, we’d all be able to use restaurant bathrooms without having to know the key code.  But people do, for reasons I can’t begin to understand, so we all lose. 

      • CAM June 9, 2017 (3:53 pm)

        You’d be surprised. A young man on the bus the other day informed everyone else on the bus in a loud voice that the fire truck pulling up to the encampment should “get the hoses out” in a rather gleeful manner. Maybe he thought it was funny in a kind of dark way but I’m not certain the homeless people on the bus would appreciate the distinction. Kindness, empathy, and socially appropriate behavior is a lost art these days for people of all income levels. 

  • Rico June 9, 2017 (1:37 pm)

     TW wrote

    “AS A comunity, we should be lifting each other up, being good examples to the public. A lot of deaths and violence could have been prevented if only there wasn’t such an importance on personal possessions and shallow morals”


    Whose shallow morals are you referring to?  The murderer or my responsible, hard working, caring neighbors? 



  • Community Member June 9, 2017 (8:23 pm)

    And whose personal possessions? The possessions of the women who came to the homeless camp looking for revenge for an alleged robbery?  I suppose that if those two women didn’t place importance on their possessions, then they probably wouldn’t have minded an alleged robbery so much, so, sure, maybe this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.  Or is TW talking about people placing importance on property such as dumpsters and toilets, which may not seem very elegant, but are usually an important part of the viability of a small business? 

  • 1% June 11, 2017 (2:32 am)

    Also a victim of domestic violence and let me just say from first hand experience there is absolutely no help from any agency if your just a single white mother of 3 girls struggling to make ends meet.I was flat out told there just wasn’t the resources for someone unless your a convicted felon a drug addict a immigrant or have a mental disability.Me and my girls have been homeless for three years now and every waiting list I have seen thru ended in a denial for either past debt or simply due to being unreachable thru phone or mail even though I have always noted only form of contact is email my spot was given to the next in line.And the section 8 lotteries are all rigged never once in it’s whole  existence has my name been drawn.Not once.Now I am faced with having to hand over my kids to the state cause I have exhausted all my resources and what little money i see from work is no where enough to live off of in this society.Thanks to all the midwest yuppies that moved in driving our housing market through the roof.So No there is no help for us clean sain record free victims of abuse.

  • Loetal Wallace June 19, 2017 (12:07 pm)

    I went out of town to Mt. to lay flowers on my family’s’ plot. Returned that Sunday and I was wondering why Dillon was not home. He was very anxious to get the help that he needed his admit date was the following Monday. I wondered where he was and a detective called me his grandmother who raised him since birth. I was told that it was a homicide that he was killed with a bat on his right side of his head and the back of his head. By someone who was a martial arts specialist. Body guard and worked to protect citizens. As far as I am concerned he picked up the bat with premeditation and intent to kill. Why didn’t he just break my grandsons legs or something. Gee. Extreme intended force and took my grandsons life. Premeditated. He was 43 years old selling drugs at the camp. Distributing drugs freely…this camp needs to be removed of the freedom to sell illicit drugs. There will be more deaths and leave grandmothers like me heartbroken….thank you for your time and prayers.

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