Murder & Mayhem in Seattle

Murder & Mayhem in Seattle

by Teresa Nordheim


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Seattle harbors a dark and violent history that stretches back to a bloody battle between natives and settlers in 1856. In the early 1900s, Dr. Linda Hazzard stole money from countless patients after starving them to death in her infamous sanitarium. Three robbers opened fire in the notorious Wah Mee gambling club in 1983, killing thirteen people in the state's deadliest mass homicide. Some of America's most notorious serial killers wrought terror in Seattle, including the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway. Ted Bundy's murder spree started in King County before reaching national attention in the 1970s. Local author Teresa Nordheim exposes these and many more gruesome events that scarred the city.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467136600
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 11/28/2016
Series: Murder & Mayhem
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,128,631
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Teresa Nordheim is an award-winning author who has over forty published articles to her credit. This mother, nurse and researcher gets her inspiration from such authors as William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe and Isaac Asimov. Teresa is a freelance writer and illustrator. She is also an avid paranormal investigator and director of research for AGHOST (Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma).

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Controversy at Day One

Today, Seattle is known for Starbucks coffee, Boeing, Microsoft, the Space Needle, rainy weather, mountains, ocean beaches and Pike Place Market. At least, these are the items that the local travel agents might use to seduce people to the Emerald City. However, as with any other city in the world, there is a dark and more sinister side to Seattle — one that is often hidden not only from the public eye but from travelers and locals as well.

One of the first objectives of a new city is to establish law and order, for without it, chaos and malady will certainly follow. One of the ultimate criminal offenses is taking the life of another human. This is why society has rules and laws that carefully govern such an ominous wrongdoing. These laws provide guidelines for determining the severity, penalty and even classifications of killings.

Frequently, people interchange the terms murder and homicide, but there is a difference. Homicide is defined as an unlawful killing of another human being. Homicides are divided as criminal, excusable and justifiable. Murder is a form of criminal homicide in which the perpetrator intends to kill their victim, and it is sometimes premeditated. It is unjustifiable, and the consequences are severe. Excusable and justifiable homicide is a murder committed without criminal intent. Examples might mean the person was defending themselves or another person. It can also include law enforcement killing someone in the line of duty.

The most serious offense, murder, is divided into several different classifications depending on the severity and circumstances of the crime. There is first degree, second degree and third degree, which is often called manslaughter. First degree is the most serious offense and is premeditated, or planned. In some states, first-degree murder charges can be brought into play when the death occurs during a different, preplanned crime, such as rape, arson, robbery or even kidnapping.

To be charged with first-degree murder in Washington, the murder itself must be willful and premeditated. In this case, the killer plans ahead and attacks the victim with the intent to take their life. If convicted, the murderer will not receive anything less than life in prison. It can be changed to aggravated murder if there are extenuating circumstances surrounding the murder. For example, the killing of a police officer could be a first-degree murder charge. For this charge, the killer can receive the death penalty. Serial killers usually have a clear plan for each of their victims. Gary Ridgway drove the streets looking for prostitutes to kill. He planned which streets to drive, which type of woman he was wanting and how he would kill them.

The next degree is second-degree murder, which is an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned. This can occur when the murder happens and the killer intends to kill, but he didn't approach the victim with an intentional plan. An example might be a dispute between neighbors and a property line. The neighbors are discussing a solution but a gun is pulled; one neighbor is shot and killed. This could also occur if one neighbor grabbed a shovel and struck the other neighbor in the head. The strike to the head kills the neighbor. A clear example of this degree can be seen in riots that occurred in Seattle in 1999. A man struck another man on the head with a skateboard, which caused a fatal head injury.

Next in line is manslaughter, which can be either voluntary or involuntary. If the manslaughter is voluntary, then there was intent to kill, but original intent was only to harm a person. The main distinction between second-degree murder and manslaughter is the circumstances surrounding the case. It is often described as a heat-of-passion killing in which the defendant is provoked or angered, striking out in an attack that ends in death. This could be a bar fight that went wrong. One man intends to punch another man hoping to hurt the other person. However, the second man falls to the ground and dies. Involuntary manslaughter is still an unlawful killing, but the defendant did not premeditate the actual killing and may not have even intended to harm the other person. Involuntary manslaughter can be divided into two categories: constructive and criminally negligent. Constructive manslaughter is when, without malicious intent, a killing occurs as the result of a crime. For example, a speeding vehicle in a school zone strikes and kills a child. The defendant broke the law by exceeding the speed limit but did not intend to kill the child. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to an automobile accident. If that accident involves another car, and the driver of the second car dies, the driver under the influence can be charged with manslaughter. Again, a drunk driver doesn't set out to kill anyone, but driving under the influence is illegal and the death occurred during the illegal offense. Criminally negligent means the defendant committed a serious crime that resulted in death to the victim. This could happen in a hospital when a doctor fails to notices a patient's oxygen tank has disconnected from the supply and the patient dies. Vehicular manslaughter is the charge for a drunk driver who kills someone while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The death penalty is legal execution of a criminal who has committed a serious offense. It is often referred to as capital punishment and varies from state to state. In the state of Washington, a total of 101 executions have been carried out since 1849. The most popular method is hanging, followed by lethal injection. In Washington, convicted murderers' first choice for the death penalty is death by lethal injection. However, if the convicted murderer chooses hanging, the state must oblige. As of 2015, the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla lists nine men on death row, and one of them, Robert Yates, is featured in this book. Others featured in this book have been executed for their crimes, including James Champoux, James Mahoney, Wallace Gaines, Jake Bird and Westley Dodd. Ted Bundy was executed in Florida. Gary Ridgeway lives at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla but is serving a life sentence rather than a death sentence. Currently, the state has a moratorium on execution.

Comparing the population to the death rate for both the early 1900s and present-day Seattle proves there have always been problems with this particular crime within the city and the surrounding area. In fact, it's not unusual for a larger city to struggle with murder and mayhem.

Another contemplative term is massacre. Mass murder is just as it sounds. It is the slaughtering of several victims at the same time. The actual event of mass murder is referred to as a massacre. Unfortunately, Seattle has seen at least two of this style of murder. At the Wah Mee Club, on February 18, 1983, fourteen people were shot down, and thirteen died. Crime scene photos detail a graphic bloodshed and multiple victims lying down on the ground, hogtied and helpless. The Capitol Hill area had a similar incident when a man attending a local party with mixed company decided to turn the night deadly. He killed six people and injured two more before turning the gun on himself, dislodging brain matter from his skull.

The first documented murder in the United States came in 1630. John Billington, one of the original Plymouth colonists and signer of the Mayflower Compact, had the dubious honor of being the first convicted murderer. He would hang via a noose for his crime and also be the first man to be executed for his crime in this country. These aren't the type of firsts that make parents proud.

While murder and mayhem most likely took place in the Seattle area long before the white settlers arrived, those stories remain hidden among the shadows of the dark tales that followed.

Agnew's Saloon in Renton, Washington, accommodated an unforeseen bar fight on February 4, 1877. Soloman Baxter attempted to break up an altercation between John Thompson and another man. Thompson stabbed Baxter in the stomach, causing injuries that would send him to the local hospital. Despite receiving medical attention, Baxter died the following day.

Thompson faced a trial by a jury of his peers and was found guilty of murder on September 28, 1877. This would mark possibly the first murder on record for King County and definitely the first legal execution. The King County sheriff played executioner on the day Thompson swung from the gallows.

Washington's territorial legislature enacted the death penalty in 1854. At the time, hangings could take place anywhere there were gallows. By 1901, stricter rules had been set, and all executions were required to take place at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Since that time, many executions have taken place at the penitentiary.

Zenon James Champoux was hanged at the penitentiary on May 6, 1904, for the murder of eighteen-year-old entertainer Lottie Brace. Brace promised to marry Champoux, but then she found employment in the oldest occupation: prostitution. When Champoux found Brace and she refused his advances, he drove a knife into her temple. She died later that day.

Champoux would offer a plea of insanity, but the judge sentenced him to death. His prison stripes were traded for a black suit, and the priest arrived to offer a prayer before Champoux was escorted to the gallows. With no words and a single tear falling from his cheek, Champoux was pronounced dead at the age of twenty-eight, almost instantly after he dropped. His heart would continue to beat for an additional seventeen minutes. Zenon James Champoux was the first to be executed in the state prison in Walla Walla, Washington. He was also the first King County resident to be executed.

Washington would abolish the death penalty in 1913 but enact it again in 1919. Since 1904, there have been seventy-eight executions in Washington State. Several of the men mentioned in this book are included on the list of individuals who met their death via execution in Washington State.

Now death, murder and mayhem haven't always been present in Seattle. However, controversy sits as deeply as the establishment of the city. All accounts agree that George Vancouver was the first European explorer to reach the Puget Sound. He arrived while serving with the British navy and in command of the expedition to the North Pacific. In 1792, he arrived at the Puget Sound. He dropped anchor between Blake and Bainbridge Islands before swiftly naming over seventy-five landmarks, including mountains, islands, towns and a waterway. Most were named for members of Vancouver's crew, as well as friends and colleagues. His mission was to survey and map the lands, not conquer the natives or build a new city.

As for the city of Seattle and the surrounding area, there are at least two well-known versions of the story of its history. Two very different men came to the area with the same final goal: they wanted to build a thriving city near the Puget Sound. Both men are noted in the history books as vital characters in the building of Seattle. However, they were polar opposites, and in the end, the one who was the most publicly acceptable ended up with the most notoriety. The two men would become rivals but partners as well. For without one, the other may not have brought the missing ingredients to Seattle.

The first of the men is Arthur Denny, who was born near Salem, Indiana, in 1822. In 1851, at the age of twenty-nine, he would arrive at the Puget Sound and begin leaving his mark. He was a political conservative and devout Christian. He was so opposed to drinking alcohol that he would refuse service in his store to customers who had partaken in the evil spirits. When Denny wrote in his biography that his trip to the Puget Sound was a "desperate venture," he was right on the mark. To all those who knew Denny, this trip was completely out of character. He would rather be a cool, smooth businessman and investor then a risk-taker.

As cliché as it sounds, it was a dark and stormy night in November when Arthur Denny and his wagon party arrived at Alki Beach in 1851. The rain was coming down by the bucketful, which isn't unusual for Seattle, but it did make settling in difficult for the weary travelers. Dim, gloomy skies darkened the night, making it difficult to navigate through the Duwamish Bay, which was already struggling with its own turmoil from the wind.

The journey presented many dangers along the way and obstacles to cross. The troubles would not vanish when they reached the Washington Territory. In fact, struggles with weather, fights over land and even a fight to be the first would meet the Denny party head on, but they fought their way through. Acquiring necessities like food and shelter were nearly impossible feats. Illness was common, and Denny himself was said to be sick through the entire trip.

They battled Native Americans along the way but escaped without harm. They rested in late August 1851 in Portland, Oregon, where Mary, Denny's wife, gave birth to their son, Rolland Denny, on September 2, 1851. David Denny, Arthur's brother, would forge forward toward the Puget Sound with John Low and Lee Terry, while the others stayed behind. He staked the claim on an unfinished cabin near present-day Tumwater, Washington, and sent Low back to Portland to alert the others while he worked on the cabin. The older people of the group would stay behind in Portland, while Arthur and the rest of the party would travel on to the Puget Sound, not arriving until November 13, 1851.

On the morning of November 13, they arrived at Alki to find an utter mess: David Denny recovering from an axe wound and Lee Terry missing. The cabins in which they were to stay were mere unfinished shacks. There was an immediate concern for offering suitable housing for the women and children in the party. Other settlers had already staked a claim on Alki. Arthur Denny was greeted by his brother's words: "You shouldn't have come."

Denny was a fighter and determined to make it work in the new area. Though discouraged, he didn't halt the plan he had already been putting into action long before he reached the Puget Sound. Thankfully, they would find some help along the way.

They were greeted by Chief Sealth, a Duwamish chief, and his tribe six weeks later. Chief Sealth would become known as Chief Seattle by the white settlers, as they had trouble properly pronouncing his first name. The chief held a high honor among his tribe and strived to create a lasting bond between the natives and the new visitors. Unlike other natives around the United States and in the Northwest, Chief Seattle knew a civil and friendly relationship with the new settlers was important to keep his people safe and sound.

The women and children of the Denny party stayed at the beach while they waited for proper housing to be established farther inland. Arthur and the other men didn't like the site or the cabins. With help from the Duwamish tribe, Chief Seattle assisted the Denny party in building cabins to help stave off the wet, freezing Washington winter and provide safety to the men, women and children.

Denny and his party were not the first to settle in this area. Others had moved to the Northwest for fishing and logging, and some even came for gold. Some came to claim land and build farms. However, Denny had a very different purpose. Denny came to build a new city.

The Dennys moved to the west side of the bay, while Terry and Low stayed at Alki. The name Alki came from Terry's hometown in New York State. Henry Yesler was invited to Alki to operate his steam-powered sawmill, which would make ample money and facilitate growth for the growing town. One by one and task by task, Denny would help bring many of the needed ingredients to the table to start building the city.

Seattle would become the name of the city in honor of the great chief who provided so much help to their endeavor. The credit for the naming went to Denny's rival, David Maynard, who was a doctor by trade but also came to the Puget Sound to build a city. Maynard instantly made friends with the Native American tribes, and when Chief Seattle asked him to move his general store to the village of the Duwamish, Maynard eagerly agreed. He also renamed his store the Seattle Exchange. This paved the way for the naming of the city.

Maynard is the other key player in the founding of Seattle. He is a man sometimes hidden from the public eye. David Maynard, better known as Doc Maynard, was born in 1808 in Castleton, Vermont. Maynard put his medical training to use while traveling over to the Puget Sound area via wagon trail. His kind heart and nature to heal made him different than some doctors on the trail, who feared catching disease from the ill. He was known to be a heavy drinker and enjoyed a visit to the local brothels, even when he was a married man. Maynard often visited Seattle's infamous Madam Damnable at her brothel. One of his strongest qualities was his likable character and ability to advocate for the natives. This would pay off when he arrived in Washington and greeted the natives.


Excerpted from "Murder & Mayhem in Seattle"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Teresa Nordheim.
Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 9

1 Introduction to Seattle 11

2 The Battle of Seattle 22

3 Officer Down 29

4 There Shall Be Riots 35

5 The Great Seattle Fire 46

6 Starvation in Seattle 52

7 The Mahoney Trunk Murder 61

8 Murder at Green Lake 69

9 The Great Suicidal Depression 74

10 The Mercer Girls 82

11 Seattle's Worst Mass Murder 91

12 Serial Seattle 98

Bibliography 117

Index 121

About the Author 125

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