Updated Tuesday, August 16 @ 11:53 a.m. with additional details from King County Prosecutors regarding the charges against Chen, and information about Chen's relationship with his partner Eric Cooper, and their son, Cooper Chen.
Dr. Louis Chen
At 10:12 a.m. on the morning of August 11, a Virginia Mason Medical Center nurse arrived at the penthouse apartment of Dr. Louis Chen and his partner Eric Cooper, located on the 17th floor of the M Street Apartments, a high-rise building at 910 Eighth Avenue. Chen hadn't shown up for work at his new job in the hospital's endocrinology department and the nurse, Madonna Carlson, came to check on him. According to court documents, when Carlson knocked, Chen "opened the door, nude, covered in blood."
Chen, according to charging documents from King County Prosecutors, was "holding a box in front of himself." His right eye was swollen shut. Inside the apartment, Carlson could see the lifeless body of Chen's partner, 29-year-old Eric Cooper. He was, "wearing boxer shorts, with his feet towards the door."
Carlson immediately dialed 911. The operator asked Carlson if she could see any weapons. The nurse spotted "a square, butcher knife," on the floor, which she kicked into the kitchen upon the advice of the operator.
When police arrived a few minutes later, they found the 39-year-old Chen "slumped by the front door." Cooper, according to prosecutors, had been stabbed more than 100 times, in "all areas of his body including his face, neck, chest, back and hands." In the bathroom, the couple's toddler-aged son, Cooper Chen, was also found stabbed to death.
Police say that as many as five knives may have been used in the butchery. In addition to the knife Carlson kicked into the kitchen, detectives found "a blade broken from the handle of a large kitchen knife" in the living room, and a handle without a blade in the guest bedroom. Three "large kitchen knives" with "reddish-brown" blood stains were discovered in the bed in the master bedroom.
Police, according to a probable-cause statement from King County Prosecutors, asked Chen a simple question: "Who did this to you?"
"What?" Chen reportedly replied.
"Who stabbed you and your partner?" Police asked.
"I did," Chen said, according to court documents.
Chen is now charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree, a crime punishable by death or life in prison without parole. He also suffered knife wounds in the incident, and is reportedly being held in stable condition in Harborview Medical Center under police supervision. After Chen is released from the hospital, he will be booked into the King County Jail and held without bail.
Under state law, prosecutors have 30 days after Chen's arraignment to decide whether to pursue the death penalty. Chen's arraignment hearing is scheduled for August 29 at 8:30 a.m. at the King County Courthouse.
According to multiple reports from local media, Chen moved to Seattle in July after completing a three-year residency at Duke University in the spring. He graduated from University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine in 2000. The couple had their baby in Minneapolis, where Chen Chen held a faculty appointment at the University of Minnesota and served as an attending physician at the city's VA Hospital.
Chen and Cooper also reportedly shared addresses in North Carolina and San Diego before moving in together in the First Hill apartment last month. According to The Seattle Times, "Public records show that Cooper had returned to North Carolina at some point."
While several news stories originally suggested that Chen and Cooper's son, aged two-years and ten-months, was adopted from southeast Asia, the Times reports that the child was a surrogate, and that the couple's "impending breakup" may have been the motivation for the murders. Chen and Cooper were a couple for nearly 12 years. Chen, an immigrant from Taiwan, was in med school at the University of Chicago when he met Cooper, then a 17-year-old high school senior from a Tinley Park, a suburb about 30 miles south of Chicago. According to the Times, the couple had agreed to split-up and share custody of their son, but were still living together while Cooper searched for a place of his own.
The probable-cause statement says Chen also went by the name Bryan Wayne.
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more details as they become available.
Here are PDFs of the probable-cause statement and charging documents from King County Prosecutors:Louis Chen Charging Documents