Community Police & Fire

Paranoia, alcohol and drug use preceded fatal Ray Nash shooting, documents indicate

Posted on July 1st, 2024 By:

Pierce County prosecutors charged Melissa Dawn Wells, 34, with a count of second-degree murder and a count of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of her 39-year-old boyfriend on June 26 on Ray Nash Drive in Gig Harbor.

Documents filed with Pierce County Superior Court indicate that Wells “seemed to be in a psychosis (disconnected from reality)” when deputies detained her around 10 p.m. on June 26. Wells told detectives that she and the victim had consumed a half-gallon of vodka, several beers and had snorted cocaine in the hours leading up to the shooting. 

Wells remained in the Pierce County Jail between being arrested early Thursday and being charged Monday afternoon. The documents identified the victim only by his age, initials and as Wells’ boyfriend.

Child in home called 911

According to charging documents, an 11-year-old called 911 from inside the home at 9:57 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. The 11-year-old told dispatchers that Wells shot the victim. Court documents indicate dispatchers heard children screaming and gunshots in the background during the call.

Deputies, with help from a witness, found Wells walking on Ray Nash Drive. The victim was dead at the home. The 11-year-old and two cousins also were at the house.

Wells told deputies that she and the victim had been on a drinking binge over the past 36 hours, consuming the half-gallon of vodka and several beers. She said the victim purchased cocaine a few hours before the shooting, and she took “two bumps” of the drug.

She said the cocaine made her paranoid and anxious. When she mentioned that to the victim, he gave her pills that he said were a treatment for anxiety. The medication exacerbated her symptoms.

Wells also told detectives that she believed that someone hacked both her phone and the victim’s. They received “strange messages” from an unknown person saying that “something bad was going to happen.”

Differing accounts of shooting 

Charging documents say that the victim told Wells that she was upsetting the children. The two went outside to try to calm down.

A witness told deputies that as the two walked back inside, Wells jumped on the boyfriend’s back. The two struggled, and that’s when Wells shot the boyfriend, the witness said.

Wells’ account to deputies painted a different picture. She told them she had seen a light flicker in the house and believed an intruder was inside. Wells told deputies that her boyfriend, who was also armed, pointed his gun into the house.

Photo courtesy of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department

She said that she fired in the direction the boyfriend was aiming, and didn’t even know that she had hit him.  

“The defendant told detectives that she did not intend to shoot the victim,” prosecutors wrote, “indicating that she thought she was ‘shooting with him at an unknown threat inside the residence.’ “ 

Charging documents argue that the bullet that killed the boyfriend could not have been fired from the angle Wells described.

Previous weapons violation

The charging documents do not say whether detectives found a gun on the boyfriend, but they found the murder weapon in a ditch a few blocks away.

Prosecutors also noted that law enforcement arrested Wells in February for carrying a concealed pistol without a permit. It’s not clear if the weapon in that case was the same involved in the shooting last month.