Agnew man accused in homicides

Nine-month investigation leads to added allegations

PORT ANGELES — An Agnew-area man who has been in the Clallam County jail since February on unrelated accusations is now under investigation for the February double murder of his father and his father’s girlfriend.

Law enforcement added the accusations against Christopher Haltom, 41, on Wednesday, according to the jail roster.

Haltom remained in custody Friday on $66,000 bail.

The convicted felon had been a person of interest in the murders of Clay Lee Haltom, 60, and Clay Haltom’s girlfriend, Bryana Emila Presler, 43, since they were found shot dead on Feb. 24, Brian King, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office chief criminal deputy, said then.

Their bodies were discovered in the front seat of their car across the street from their Wild Currant Way home, their vehicle resting against a tree, King had said. Both had suffered gunshot wounds to the back of their heads, investigators said.

Items recovered at the scene showed that the younger Haltom may have been present in the vehicle at the time of the murders, investigators said.

The items recovered were a blue sweatshirt, the round from a .22 long rifle, and the rifle itself, found buried away from the vehicle, according to a press release.

“Based on the evidence collected at the scene and during the investigation, detectives with Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau, developed probable cause that Christopher Haltom was solely responsible for Clay and Bryana’s deaths,” Clallam County Detective Sgt. Eric Munger said in the release.

Haltom was arrested in February a short distance from the home on Wild Currant Way on a warrant for investigation of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The warrant stemmed from Haltom allegedly possessing a Ruger semi-automatic pistol while visiting a Port Angeles pawn shop to purchase ammunition for a .22-caliber long rifle. The transaction, six hours before the bodies were found, was recorded on the Port Angeles pawn shop’s surveillance cameras, which showed him approaching the counter with the pistol in his hand, investigators said.

A deputy on his way to the crime scene saw him walking in the area and arrested him on the warrant, King had said.

Allegations of theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen vehicle and malicious mischief were added against Haltom in March.

Prior to this, he had six felony convictions, according to law enforcement in March.

He has a history of auditory hallucinations, delusional beliefs and paranoia, according to Jan. 5 mental competency evaluation for an active criminal case.

Haltom was ordered to undergo a competency test by the Clallam County Superior Court in March. That resulted in a diagnosis of drug addiction and schizophrenia.

Haltom was treated at Western State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Lakewood, in 2021, but was released in January.

On Nov. 17, Haltom asked the court to dismiss criminal charges filed against him and remand him to civil commitment at a Department of Social and Health Services facility.

________

Ken Park can be reached at kpark@soundpublishing.com.

Stories by former PDN senior reporter Paul Gottlieb contributed to this story.

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