While South Park Slept

A Gruesome Murder, a Beloved Bar, and a Week on the Edge

Comments

1
I enjoyed the read! Im sorry for all sides as Its hard to be young and have nothing and worst yet realize there is not much where you are!

The term Bipolar and Bipolar Medication are question marks as Some people have bad reactions to it and become violent if they take it and that makes it a real nightmare to have that dilemma.

So they are using to term Bipolar as a association with a homicidal maniac and Bipolar medication as a Jesus Christ pill from god compliments of "Melvin pharmaceuticals Company" as the factor things were so bad that night in Small town America.

I do the math and deduct how many homicidal maniacs of mental health are walking the street and all the Bad medicine that's going around and realize we all don't have long to live.

Those young people who just get out of prison need more than a pill of Melvin's and a kick in the pants? But we should have figured that out many lives ago? on the bright side we have Iraq and Afghanistan and Investment scandal that wiped out everybody's savings as well a recession of depression.

As South Park slept Indeed!
2
Well written. Gripping, but most of all, the truth was told and not blowing smoke into one's own ego. Malcom, can you get with Mudede and teach him how its done?
3
Oh my God. Fucking great article. Now do one on the homeless man who was shot and killed in Seattle days later after Butz was killed. You know the Times and the "PI" aren't going to cover it. Don't be like Season Five of the Wire.
4
What the hell is Slade talking about?
5
Thanks, Eli. I really enjoyed and was moved by this piece.
6
Good stuff. Infinitely better than what usually passes for reporting around here.

What a sick fuck. This attack reminds me of the young lady killed in Cap Hill on New Years two years ago. There are too many violent mentally ill on the street. Its high time we go back to warehousing the worst ones.
7
As a musician and armchair philosopher who lives happily in South Park, I praise the article for it's sensitive specificity and gritty narrative.

Although I didn't know Teresa (but probably have unknowingly seen her around), Sander's description made me love her and miss her. Rest in peace sweet Teresa.

One final point. Although it's relatively insignificant given the gravity of this tragedy, I think Eli overstated the squalid, edginess factor of South Park. There's a lot of people here who really love the tone and ambience of this charming, self-contained town. We live here because we prefer South Park to soulless suburbia, or crowded Capital Hill, Fremont, U District, etc.

Even so, great article.

Sadly and respectfully,

Michael
8
Really excellent writing. I don't normally read the Stranger but am very impressed by the quality of the writing demonstrated in this article. You really put this murder in context and helped the reader see it through the eyes of the community. Well done Eli.
9
Thank you for this article. I live in Rainier valley, and some of the same issues arise- as well as a community that rallies together to support each other through these cracks. It was wonderful to see the police response to this horrible crime, and I hope it bring continued focus towards a neglected, but diverse and well-focused, south end of the city.
10
This quote speaks volumes of truth: "When a black man is being hunted by the cops for assaulting two white lesbians inside a home that one of them bought recently in a slowly gentrifying but often ignored neighborhood, it triggers a lot of normally unspoken feelings."

I am a white lesbian living (in a different neighborhood, but still) in a nearly identical situation with my partner. Although I did not know the victims personally, I am separated from them by just one or two degrees - we are a small, small community. Although I live in what is considered a "safer" neighborhood, I haven't slept well since finding out about this incident, and have been unable to keep myself from reading all of the awful details. Meanwhile, I've had to confront my own racism and classism.

I feel like I have no outlet for talking about this tragedy that affected me so deeply, despite not directly knowing any of the people involved. So these "unspoken feelings" remain so, and are compounded by grief and guilt.
11
I have to agree with rayray on this one. This, THIS is journalism, which came as a bit of a surprise, Sanders, as I had pegged you as a total jerkoff. Oh hell, everyone's a jerkoff, the point is you can write, and more importantly you aren't masturbating to the thought of yourself when you're doing it.

As for the murderer, it's plain from the circumstances that it was an anti-gay crime, which, though not very surprising, is good to confirm. Sad, but good to confirm. God, people can be assholes.
12
Oh wow...

I just realized upon reading this that I met Isiah-the murderer a few days after his aunts house burnt down in Tacoma. Our dogs played at the doggie litter box dog park on Boren and Pine. We chatted about philosophy--I wish I could remember the book he was carrying. We talked about a lot of esoteric things--all of which he knew bits and pieces of. He mentioned his education and trying to decide between medical school and law. He told me about being homeless and the fire; about the death of his aunt. He didn't seem to be sad about it--he said he was just numb and that many people had died in his life. I usually offer help to such predicaments, but felt weary of doing so in this case. I actually stopped the words from leaving my mouth. He didn't look so unbalanced at that point...probably went downhill in the following days. Death brushed by me and moved onto such a beautiful woman...I'm often construed as a lesbian with my shaved head and pitbull in my neighborhood... This is a strange feeling--should I talk to the police or something? I feel so close to Theresa and deep sadness for her violent death. It's so easy to meet tragedy--I probably narrowly dodge it on a daily basis....
I wonder what will happen to his dog....such a tragic story...
13


In the balance of public safety against the rights of the mentally ill, our society has moved the scale way too far to the side of individual rights. We need to refocus effort on protecting citizens against the violently mentally ill -- longer in-patient treatment programs and much better supervision after release. If just one heinous murder and sexual assault like this one were prevented, it would be worth $ millions.
14
Just wanted to echo the comments about this beautiful piece, Eli. I was moved to tears this, just blown away. My heart goes out to Ms. Butz's partner and I hope that her community can help hold her up in this agonizing grief-filled time. Thank you for this.
17
Good article. Very well-written.
18
Excellent, excellent piece, Eli - Thank you. Like many of the commenters, I was also moved by your writing, and deeply affected by the crime itself. As a single woman living just up the hill from South Park, this tragedy really hit me. I pray for Teresa and her partner and their families and friends - just so much pain caused by one big guy off his meds. We do seem to have a lot of this kind of thing in Seattle - Is it that we need more/better supervision of non-hospitalized mental patients? I wonder how that would look, exactly? But I have to agree with Wynnia above, we've put the general public at risk in order to provide for the (excessive?) rights of the mentally ill.

Again, thank you for a thoughtful, honest and moving article.

19
Airina - you well may want to contact the police about your encounter with this man at Boren & Pine park a few days after the murder. You could well be a witness as to his mental state and demeanor. It could be important.
20
Dear Eli,

As I read your piece on the horrific murder in South Park I had a feeling not unlike what I experienced on September 11th (i.e. as I reeled at the tragedy I also felt the looming disaster of the destructive reaction).

This sickening feeling increased as you continued to bandy about the name of Judge Brian Gain on any radio program that would have him. Sadly, it is only in our fantasies that every tragedy is susceptible to a feel good fix in which the evil doer is quickly identified and taken out by the hero.

News flash, criminal defendants and the mentally ill are already among the most neglected and abused members of our society and most Judges are already so fearful of releasing the accused prior to trial that they preemptively jail almost everyone the Prosecutor asks them to hold. This fear comes almost entirely from the unfair reporting that follows upon the very rare instance when a violent offense is committed by a someone released in these circumstance.

Judge Gain's sin is that he followed the law and he was not clairvoyant. No Judge is free to jail anybody that makes them nervous, instead, they must enforce the provisions of the Washington State Court Rules. In this case CrR 3.2 applied, and that rule "presumes" the release of the defendant. The police had suspicions about Mr. Kalebu in relation to an arson but the law requires that there be "probable cause" to link him to the crime or the court is powerless to hold him. Does Mr. Sanders really think that people should be jailed based upon suspicion alone?

Let's not forget that the Court knew Mr. Kalebu had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. The public tends to see the mentally ill as frightening bogeymen, however, if you work in criminal justice, as I did for fifteen years, you see them as the sad sacks continually jailed mostly for being the screw ups that they most often are.

As much as we might like to have the entire "suspicious" and "mentally ill" population preemptively incarcerated because they might do something in the future, we simply don't have the space, even in the most imprisoned country in the world. It is an inconvenient truth that predicting future dangerousness is like forecasting the future of the stock market, if someones says they can do it with any great certainty, they are lying.

Predicting future dangerous is a task that is essentially impossible, yet judges are asked to do it everyday and if they get it wrong bet on the media (Eli Sanders) trying to see that they lose their jobs. Where are the stories about the literally thousands of people (many of them ultimately found to be not guilty) that Judge Gain allowed to await their trials while still going to work and living with their families rather than held in the grim confines of King County Jail? As a judge, Brian Gain has a better batting average than anybody in the majors but one strike is his ticket to news coverage.

Probably the largest single study ever done tracking the violent re-offense of mentally ill offenders was done based upon tracking inmates released from a facility in Ontario in a town named Penetanguishene. The Penetanguishene study shows that schizophrenia, Mr. Kalebu's diagnosis, is inversely correlated with re-offense. In other words, the best science suggests that an offender with schizophrenia is less likely to violently re-offend than a non-mentally ill offender.

Maybe it just doesn't make a good headline, "Judge complies with letter and spirit of the law and resists temptation to cover his ass by jailing everyone prior to trial".

Douglass
Beacon Hill


21
In my previous post I got Mr. Kalebu's diagnosis wrong but regardless of the diagnosis, the link between mental illness and violence is at best a weak one. See:

http://www.cmha.ca/BINS/content_page.asp…
22
Thank you Douglass. You wrote exactly what I came here to write. Eli, do you really want a situation in which judges preemptively incarcerate everyone charged with a crime while they await trial because someone might commit another crime?

Judge Gain (not "Robert" Gain, by the way, the name Eli kept using on KUOW today) did not "release" Kalebu for a second time. He declined to revoke his release, a decision that is governed by carefully enumerated standards in a court rule. That rule is what allows wrongly arrested people to be released pending their chance to have a trial. If you keep it up, we won't have that protection against cover-you-ass elected officials any more.

People need to speak out for Judge Gain while decrying the horrible crime committed in South Park. Caring about the latter does not require sending a lynch mob after a careful judge.
23
Excellent, excellent journalism. Thank you for a thoughtful, brilliantly crafted piece on a neighborhood I lived in for just a year and still regard with great fondness.

24
Last year I wrote a kind of funny yet scathing letter about an article on the Amanda Knox trial that you ended up making into a cartoon. So I felt it was only fair to say that I wrote this and thought it was just excellent writing. Thank you for telling this story. I hope to read a follow-up in the future.
25
Where is the outrage regarding Judge Gain's decision not to revoke Kalebu's release? Yes, sometimes judges must make very difficult decisions, but this was not one of those times. Not only had Kalebu threatened to kill his mother, but he was a suspect in the arson-homicide of his aunt, who had filed a protection order against him the day before, and also the prosecutor in the case had serious concerns about his mental stability. Why were these things not reason enough for Gain to remand Kalebu to jail?

The judge has blood on his hands and should resign immediately.

26
I am an RN and work frequently with mentally ill and substance abusers. In my former job I worked as a detox nurse above an inpatient center where I frequently had contact with law enforcement, social services and public health because of my patients/clients issues. Many times I have released a patient against my own personal judgment, worried for their own safety or that of others but well aware of imperfect and deeply flawed legal and moral system that dictates how individual vs societal rights are "protected." (There were a few times I left work actively praying some irate addict with a mental illness history would not follow me home in a drug addled or withdrawel induced rage and club myself and my child as we slept in our shabby apt.) I always hoped that what I offered could in some way help all my patients to navigate the system better and find a possible the solution. An acquaintance and teacher of my young daughter was murdered along with her mother several years ago. We live blocks from Shannon Harps old condo and across the street from a halfway house for violent offenders and mentally ill.
It is most likely that judge Gain prudently followed the laws that dictate how he must handle a case such as Kalebu's. If he had sought and gained a continuance that kept Kalebu, incarcerated Gain very well could have ended up being vilified for having overstepped his limits, being a racist or an activist judge etc. It is wholly reasonable to examine the decision making process related to Kalebu's "case" to see if law enforcement and social services did the best it could but ultimately a burden lie upon all of us to rise to the occasion.
We have allowed incarceration to become the route of management solution for most mentally ill. We have been complacent in "allowing" medicine to treat addiction and mental illness as the red-haired step children of research funding. Education suffers and children with a predisposition to mental illness and or abuse are irrevocably lost. Prisons are clogged with incarceration related to the most bogus War on Drugs convictions.

This event simply forces us to take a good hard look in the mirror and either look away in distraction or weakness or face the ugly truth and decide to do something.
GET INVOLVED!
Speak up- volunteer- write regularly to those who create laws and legislate. FUCKING VOTE or run for office.
Spend one less day a month going to some hipster doofus bar and do something that has an effect on the tide of shit that that will stain us all.
GIVE SHIT or it'll just keep getting uglier.
27
@25: to Eli's credit, he said at KUOW he was going to go actually listen to the tape of the hearing in which the prosecutor asked Judge Gain to revoke Kalebu's release to see how much information was actually provided to the judge.

The standard for changing release/bail status after it is initially determined in a particular case is that there has to be a substantial change in circumstances. Just because a prosecutor has concerns is not generally going to amount to a substantial change in circumstances.

The allegations regarding the arson in his aunt's house are very alarming, but (i) were they presented to the judge, and (ii) was there enough evidence AT THE TIME to connect the fire to Kalebu? It's easy to say in hindsight that his dangerousness should have been obvious, but at the time, this was someone with almost no criminal record, presumed innocent of the threats against his mother, and not charged with the new crime (the arson). Presumably the judge could think that if prosecutors believed he set the fire, they would be charging him with that crime, which they had not (and still have not, as far as I know).
28
Great article. Heartbreaking.

This country needs a free health system where everyone can get the physical and mental care they need. The instances of known unstable and violent people being let out onto the street to predictably rape and or murder someone have become almost a regular theme in this town in recent years. This person should not have been on the street.

29
Judge Gain killed this woman pretty much. Knowing that mental health system in this region is broken, he lets him back into society for us to deal with this dangerous sickness. Same goes for that judge who released that mentally sick guy who killed that girl Shannon Harps on 2008 new years eve on Capitol Hill. Also those officials responsible for placing them into residential areas should also be accountable for this.
30
This article tore my heart out, beautifully written. I love South Park, and I pray for all of the friends and family of the victims, as well as the neighbors who will never see their neighborhood the same. We have to remember when we are quick to blame the judge or the family of the murderer, that they were doing the best they could, in a very BROKEN system. It's simply tragic. I hope we take our anger, sadness, and frustration and become involved in the movement for a better healthcare system for this country. Now is the time.
31
Yes, well mentally ill sure. As usual directed at women ala the rape before the murder. As a matter of fact his anger seems to be only directed at women. I know a few bi polar people who aren't psychopathic murderers. I hope he's not hoping for an insanity defense. He's perfectly legally sane and should suffer the same fate as Dodd, Campbell, Bundy and what should have been Ridgeway. Fuck him.
32
Thanks for withholding the victim's identity. She deserves that respect. What a horrible tragedy.May she heal as quickly as humanly possible. You did a wonderful job with the article, handling such a sensitive and horrific topic with dignity.