Pair Allegedly Gained Elderly Man's Trust on Dating App, Then Injected Him with Fentanyl to Kill, Rob Him

Philip Brewer and Christina Hardy have been arrested in connection with the death of 74-year-old Curtis Engeland, police say

<p>Facebook</p> Curtis Engeland


Curtis Engeland
  • Curtis Engeland was reported missing by his friends and family on Feb. 24, police say

  • Authorities have charged two suspects, Philip Brewer and Christina Hardy, with homicide and kidnapping, per reports

  • Engeland had lived alone after his husband died several years ago, a neighbor says

A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the February killing of an elderly man in Washington State after allegedly meeting the victim on a dating app and then gaining his trust, per reports.

Police in Mercer Island, Wash., arrested two suspects on Thursday, a week after finding the body of 74-year-old Curtis Engeland, the department said in a statement on Friday.

The suspects were identified in charging documents as Philip Brewer, 32, and Christina Hardy, 47, the Merced Sun-Star reported.

Police say the pair allegedly “acquainted” themselves with Engeland and financially defrauded him. They allegedly injected him with fentanyl in an attempt to kill him before stabbing him to death, according to Fox13 Seattle.

The two were arrested in California and are facing several charges including murder and kidnapping, the Merced Sun-Star, KIRO News Radio and KOMO News reported.

<p>Blythe Police Department (2)</p> Christina Joel Hardy (L); Philip James Brewer

Blythe Police Department (2)

Christina Joel Hardy (L); Philip James Brewer

The pair's alleged crimes date back to January when they reportedly connected with Engeland on a dating app, according to a police report reviewed by KIRO News Radio. The three met on Jan. 13 at a coffee shop before heading to Engeland’s home for the evening, per the report.

Later that night, police say Engeland called police to report that Brewer had left the residence; Engeland claimed his own wallet, keys and cellphone were missing, the outlet reported, citing police. Investigators tracked down Brewer after he allegedly made several fraudulent transactions using Engeland's card.

It’s unclear if Brewer faced any charges in connection with that alleged incident. Mercer Island police did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

More than a month after the incident, on Feb. 24, Engeland’s family reported him missing, police said in their statement. Authorities said they later determined he was likely killed the day before.

After reporting Engeland missing, his family and friends received text messages that alarmed them because they were not consistent with his behavior or the way he usually wrote messages, KIRO News Radio reported, citing police reports.

While searching his home, police eventually determined that Engeland had died and the suspects were no longer in the area, the statement said.

Police later found Engeland's body near Cosmopolis, Wash., on March 7, according to KIRO News Radio, which cited charging documents and prosecutors’ statements.

Prosecutors allege Brewer and Hardy "appear to have been using the victim’s cell phone, after (he) was murdered, to concoct fake conversations between themselves and the victim" in what authorities believe was an attempt to lead investigators astray, KOMO News reported. 

<p>Mercer Island Police Department</p> Curtis Engeland

Mercer Island Police Department

Curtis Engeland

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Engeland is being remembered fondly by his friends and family.

His neighbor Laurie Goeke says he was "a wonderful person all around," KIRO News Radio reported.

"Just a very, very special person. An avid gardener and a hiker," Goeke told the outlet. She said Engeland had lived alone after his husband passed away a few years ago.

"He was one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever had the privilege to know & love," Kami Marie Robinson, who identified herself as his niece, wrote in a Facebook post last week.

Brewer and Hardy are awaiting extradition to Washington State, Mercer Island police said in their statement.

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