SEATTLE (AP) — A former girlfriend of a man who killed a Washington state trooper has been arrested for trying to help him evade capture, the Kitsap County sheriff’s office said Friday.
The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately release the woman’s name, but jail and court records show that it is Jessi Leigh Foster, 32, the mother of one of Joshua Blake’s children. Blake, an ex-con with a history of antagonizing police, shot and killed Trooper Tony Radulescu early Thursday morning during a traffic stop, then committed suicide with a single shot to the head hours later.
Shortly after the trooper’s death, Blake called Foster and told her he did something bad and needed help to escape, sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Dickinson told a news conference.
She met him at a home on a dirt road a few miles away, where she pressed him on what he had done, he said, and even after Blake acknowledged that he “shot a cop,” she continued trying to help.
“She was actively trying to find a way for him to get out of the area,” Dickinson said.
She was still in the home with him when he killed himself as a SWAT team closed in, Dickinson said. She was arrested for investigation of rendering criminal assistance; bail was set at $500,000.
It was not immediately clear if she had a lawyer.
She and Blake had tussled in court over custody of their young child. In court papers he wrote that she had a severe drinking problem and was unstable. In response, a friend of hers, Carole Gonzalez, wrote that Foster was a loving mother and that Blake was never around the child because he had been incarcerated.
The slain trooper was Tony Radulescu, a Romanian immigrant and 16-year veteran of the patrol who had the respect of his peers and was popular in his community.
“It’s a terrible thing to receive a phone call that one of your people is injured in line of duty. To have that compounded with a loss, it’s a bad day,” Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said.
Radulescu, who served his entire career in the area, spoke five languages — a huge asset in investigating car theft rings with Eastern European ties, said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer, who knew him well.
“He was cautious. He practiced good officer safety,” the sheriff said, his eyes misting as he spoke Thursday. “Sometimes the odds are just against you.”
Radulescu was a military veteran with a son in the area who is a soldier, Patrol Chief John Batiste said at an early morning news conference at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was well-known and popular in the community where he often spoke in schools, Batiste said.
Boyer said Radulescu would be remembered for his warmth.
“He could write somebody a ticket and they’d say ‘thank you,’ ” Boyer said.
Radulescu stopped Blake’s truck around 1 a.m. on Highway 16. He radioed the location and license plate number.
When Radulescu didn’t respond to dispatcher status checks, a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy went to the scene and found the fatally wounded trooper outside his patrol car.
Three hours later, officers found the truck abandoned on a county road near Port Orchard, about two miles from the shooting scene.
Investigators received a tip on where to find the registered owner and went to the home.
According to Kitsap County court records, Blake was convicted for assaulting his then-pregnant girlfriend in 2004 as he drove down a street under the influence of alcohol. His girlfriend at the time was not Foster. After being arrested, he kicked out the window of a patrol car.
Later that year, after the baby was born, he choked the woman and punched her in the face repeatedly because she asked him to watch the child while she took a nap.
In 2008, a Port Orchard officer tried to pull him over for a minor traffic infraction. He sped off at 60 mph, crashed into another police car and then ran off. As officers pursued him, he returned to his car and sped away again — only to later be caught when a sheriff’s office dog team chased him up a tree.
Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said Blake was a handful both for prison officials and for community corrections officers who tried to supervise him. He completed a 2½-year prison term in early 2010, and last spring he served two months for failing to check in with his community corrections officer. His term of supervision ended last August, Lewis said.
— Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle.