Edmonds police say that two arrests finally have solved the murder of a 7-11 clerk two years ago. But one of the suspects has already been released and is out of jail less than 24 hours after her arrest on suspicion of murder. She is free on a technicality, but her release is a painful reminder that this case is far from over.
The current suspects are the same two that police arrested in March, 2020, just three weeks after a person burst into the 7-11 on Highway 99 at 238th and shot down Nagendiram Kandasamy , the overnight clerk.
Kandasamy was a 64-year-old husband and father, who volunteered for the overnight shift. Friends called him ‘Nagi’ and said he often worked 16-hour shifts so his two children could have college educations and “they could thrive in the world.” He is survived by his wife, Rama, and his children.
In March 2020, just three weeks after the murder, Edmonds police — working with the North Metro SWAT team — surrounded a home in Enumclaw, in South King County. For five hours they tried to talk two people out of the house; eventually used tear gas and then a K-9 to get them to surrender. Officers arrested the man and woman, who they said were “persons of interest.” They also removed what they called evidence from the home. But neither was charged at that time. The man has spent the intervening time in jail; the woman disappeared after she was released two years ago.
Wednesday night, police in Auburn arrested the same 26-year-old woman on suspicion of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery with a gun. Since the second suspect has been in Pierce County jail on other convictions, police had no need to arrest him.
Edmonds police had decided as early as last November that they had finally developed enough evidence to go after the pair again. But Edmonds police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure said that by then, the female suspect had “been in the wind” — they couldn’t find her. They continued to work with police in South King County and with members of the Violent Offenders Task Force.
Edmonds police say Auburn officers arrested her on April 6 following a traffic stop. Edmonds Detective Andy Mehl, lead investigator on the case, transported her to Edmonds for questioning before police booked her into Snohomish County Jail overnight.
Those documents also give us a glimpse of the attack that cost Kandasamy his life. From the store video, detectives saw the killer jump down off the counter and charge the clerk, pointing the gun at him. Kandasamy swung his stool to try to knock the gun away and swung again as the killer kept coming. That’s when the shooter fired. It took all of 20 seconds. The shooter ran. Nothing was stolen.
The probable cause documents show that on March 11, 2020, Edmonds Detective Mehl got a phone call from someone who had seen the news stories and knew who Kandasamy’s suspected attackers were. The caller wanted to claim the $11,000 reward offered by 7-11 Corporation and Crime Stoppers.
In the documents, the caller told Mehl that the two suspects were a boyfriend and girlfriend. Mehl found that the two had outstanding arrest warrants, for escape, as well as a long record of convictions, including felony robbery. The woman was questioned after the March standoff with police, but said she knew nothing about it.
From the court papers, police say they tracked down a car belonging to the couple; a car that matched the one found in several videos in the area at the time of the 7-11 attack. Cell phone records pinpoint the pair near the scene, and red light camera video contributed to a timeline. The documents show DNA samples were taken in December 2020.
Mehl said that when he interviewed the suspect in the Edmonds police station this week, after he gave her a Miranda warning, she said her boyfriend was driving and drove her to the Edmonds 7-Eleven. “He went into the store with a gun and came out, got into the driver seat of the vehicle and drove them to his house,” the police documents said. “She soon afterward saw the news coverage and video/photos of the suspect in the red and black coat and recognized it was (her boyfriend). She stated that he was wearing the same coat that night. (She stated) that (the boyfriend) later told her that he burned the clothing that he was wearing.”
Edmonds police say the information in the document is strong probable cause that the woman committed murder and attempted robbery. No probable cause has been submitted for the man yet, but detectives say they will recommend first-degree murder, attempted robbery and firearms charges for him.
So, why did the judge release her with no bail — especially since she had disappeared before? Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said the following:
“Based on my office’s understanding from the Edmonds Police Department that the investigation is ongoing, but that it was unlikely additional information would be received within the next 72 hours—the time period in which we would have to file charges into District Court—we did not object to the release of the suspect,” Cornell said.
The prosecutor’s office didn’t have enough time to prepare the charging documents, so they had to let her go – for now. Edmonds police say they are confident they have a case ready for court. Now, detectives and prosecutors have a little more time to make sure they can prove their case and provide answers to two years of pain.
People with information on the case can contact Edmonds police at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-771-0212.
— By Bob Throndsen and Larry Vogel