Crime

He threatened to slit his stepdaughter’s throat, so she locked herself in a room for nearly 2 days, say police

A 68-year-old Kennewick man has been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after he allegedly threatened to cut his stepdaughter’s throat.

The woman was so afraid for her life that she locked herself in a her bedroom for almost two days, say investigators.

Later, officers found the bedroom door was damaged from being punched and repeatedly stabbed with a knife, said court documents.

Howard W. Punches was in a wheelchair Monday when he appeared in Benton County Superior Court. He’s missed previous hearings because he was in a Tri-City hospital for a reason that was not made public.

Judge Carrie Runge signed the mental health evaluation order and set a review for Jan. 24.

Punches was released late Monday from the Benton County jail on $10,000 bail. He is charged with second-degree assault and felony harassment, both with domestic violence allegations.

The stepdaughter told Kennewick police that Punches had been in “a manic state” the weekend before Christmas since he stopped taking his psychiatric medication and refused her attempts to give it to him.

The woman and her brother removed all knives from the kitchen and hid them in the garage, but Punches found one that measured about 13 inches, court documents said.

Punches then started following his stepdaughter through the West Fourth Avenue home holding the kitchen knife in an aggressive manner, documents said.

The woman told police she ultimately ran into her bedroom and locked the door, and ended up staying in the room for 1 1/2 days.

She said Punches stood outside her door and ordered her not to come out or else he would kill her with the knife.

Documents don’t explain how the stepdaughter eventually got out of the room.

Police were called to the home Dec. 23. Officers used a loud speaker in a patrol vehicle to get Punches to come outside.

An officer asked Punches what had happened and he said something about an argument and then reportedly told the officer, “I had a knife and wanted to slit her throat.”

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.

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