Detectives in Seattle look to Dungeons and Dragons Online for answers to why, according to police, an 18-year-old high school student choked a 16-year-old developmentally disabled teen girl to death last Tuesday. Warning, the details of the crime are disturbing.
Police say Tyler Wolfegang Savage admitted to authorities that he lured Kimberly "Kimmie" Daily to a brushy area near his house in Puyallup, Washington on Tuesday, August 17. He told detectives that she tried to leave after 15 to 20 minutes, at which point he grabbed her from behind and choked her to death. After the victim was killed, Savage said he stripped her of her clothes, carried her into a patch of brambles and put her bicycle on top of her. He later admitted to touching the body before disposing of it.
He then told investigators he went home and played Dungeons and Dragons Online to help him forget about what he had done.
Authorities say they have no doubt that Savage perpetrated this crime. Not only did he confess, he also led detectives to the body. The only question now is why.
Detectives are looking into Savage's Dungeons and Dragons Online habit for potential answers.
Dungeons and Dragons Online is a free-to-play massively multiplayer role-playing game in which players take on the roles of fantasy characters, going on quests and battling fantasy creatures to gain levels and equipment. It bears noting to those not familiar with the game that it does not involve overt depictions of choking or rape.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist explains the reasoning behind the investigation into a gaming connection.
"The defendant admitted some kind of connection between the murder and the video game," Lindquist said. "I'm not clear at this point what exactly that connection is. The defendant himself said he went to play video games to forget."
While detectives consult with an expert on sexually violent fantasies to investigate the video game connection, Savage's defence attorney says the connection is pure speculation.
"What if there's a chemical or organic imbalance or something physically wrong, identifiably medically wrong with his brain that caused this to happen?" said defence attorney Jay Berneburg.
Investigators are making one thing perfectly clear: They aren't looking to blame the video game for the crime. They're simply trying to understand what makes a teenager with no prior criminal record suddenly commit such a heinous crime.
Neighbors and classmates describe Savage as a "good kid," and a "class clown," expressing shock that the teen could commit such a crime. Jenny Berto, a 35-year-old neighbour of Savage, says the event threw her for a complete loop.
"He's a good kid," Berto said of Savage, who wanted to be a video game tester and inventor. "He's a gamer."
Savage has been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, the highest crime in the state of Washington. Prosecutor Pierce informed Savage that he may seek the death penalty for the crime. The only other punishment available for the crime is life in prison without possibility of release.
A plea of not guilty was entered on Savage's behalf by Superior Court Commissioner Patrick Oishi. He is being held without bond.
We've contacted Dungeons and Dragons Online developer Turbine for comment on this story, and will update should we receive a response.