A retired forensic technician for Buena Park police has been arrested in Washington state on suspicion of murdering his wife's cousin, a 38-year-old San Fernando Valley man whose $160,000 inheritance he controlled.
Kenneth Eugene Patrick, 58, was arrested near his newly purchased home in Fox Island, Wash., after admitting to the shooting of Robert Austin Bukey, authorities said Tuesday.
Bukey was killed March 22 by a single gunshot to the back of the head and his body discovered by hikers a day later in a clump of trees off Ortega Highway near Lake Elsinore.
Investigators for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, using search warrants, pieced together evidence of suspicious banking activity that led to Patrick.
Patrick had worked on Buena Park's crime scene investigation team and been with the force at least 30 years, according to the Riverside County district attorney's office.
In court records, Riverside County sheriff's detectives said Bukey and his mother each received $160,000 as beneficiaries of his grandmother's estate in September 2004. The money was controlled by Patrick and his wife, Laura, because she was Bukey's cousin and Bukey had reportedly led a highly unstable life.
Friends of Bukey's interviewed by sheriff's detectives said he had used methamphetamine, lived in many San Fernando Valley motel rooms and patronized several prostitutes. He was last known living at a Burbank motel when he disappeared, detectives said.
In his first interview with detectives, on March 24 when he lived in Mission Viejo, Patrick said he had met Bukey at a Cypress auto repair shop two days earlier and given him a ride to a Van Nuys car rental office.
Laura Patrick told detectives in an April interview that she had accompanied her husband on that ride.
When detectives learned from Laura Patrick that her cousin's inheritance had shrunk to $20,000 in six months, they again questioned Kenneth Patrick, who told them Bukey "was spending a large amount of money on drugs" and had bought a new pickup truck.
A subsequent search warrant, however, found that the Patricks had withdrawn $125,547 from the estate account between August 2004 and May 2005 while also writing checks to themselves, several credit card companies and a Washington state construction firm.
A Dec. 14 search of the Patricks' Washington home found .22-caliber weapons and cartridges, according to court records. Bukey had been shot with a .22.
In an interview later that day, Laura Patrick conceded she had not joined her husband and Bukey on the March 22 car ride to Van Nuys and said she had lied to "provide him with an alibi," according to court records.
Kenneth Patrick conceded to detectives Dec. 14 that he had used Bukey's inheritance for the couple's "obligations," according to court records.
When detectives told Patrick of his wife's lie about the car ride to Van Nuys, he admitted he killed Bukey after a shoving match off Ortega Highway, where Bukey had wanted to spread his grandparents' ashes.
Patrick said he shot Bukey in self-defense because Bukey was reaching for a gun during the altercation.