Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Molester in Tennis Club case reappears

2010 assault was not his last

Almost four years ago, in July 2010, we did a controversial blog posting on a sexual assault that took place at the Seattle Tennis Club. The fact of the assault was a matter of public record; but because the perpetrator and the victim were both minors, no names were reported. Our story was controversial because some STC members did not want the matter discussed publicly.  Others, however, felt that the story warranted reporting so that parents who were aware of an assault having taken place in the neighborhood would be informed that the danger was not ongoing.

The perpetrator, Lucas D. Trethewey, then 17 years old, was convicted of child molestation in the first degree and sentenced to several months of juvenile detention. He was also stripped of his membership in the Seattle Tennis Club.  However, after serving his time, Trethewey soon perpetrated another criminal act, this time at the Northgate Toys 'R' Us store.  In November 2011 he was convicted of voyeurism in that case, which involved the use of his cellular phone camera in a men's room. The incident was reported by the SeattlePI.com.  Trethewey, as a registered sex offender, must report his address to the authorities, and according to the King County Sheriff's website, Trethewey now lives on Capitol Hill.

Trethewey is back in the news with a recent report by the Seattle P-I that he has been charged with second-degree child molestation resulting from an incident at GameWorks in November 2013.  Trethewey, who is now 21, has not yet entered a plea.

In the Tennis Club incident, as reported by the PI, Tretheway, groped a nine-year-ol boy, who reported the contact to a passing adult, who both confronted Tretheway and called in an STC manager.  Quoting from the the PI story:

“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Trethewey said, according to court documents. “Sorry that this is happening, and I’m sorry that you had to get the manager.”  Trethewey later told the manager he “had this problem in the past,” the Seattle detective told the court. When asked what he meant, Trethewey replied “with children” and added that he’d been through therapy. Interviewed by police alongside his parents, Trethewey changed his story and claimed he may have accidentally brushed by the boy on the way past him. 

Trethewey plea-bargained after that initial incident.  That option may not be available to him now, given this third alleged attack.

[Photo: King County Sheriff's Office.]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Madison Park assessments up 12.1%

The new assessments are in the mail

Madison Park homeowners, along with their counterparts in Madrona and Leschi, should be receiving a notice from the King County Assessor's office in the next day or so. It's one of those good news/bad news situations, however. Some property owners may be gratified to see that the upward trend in house values is validated by a higher tax assessment on their home.  The 12.1% increase for this part of town ("Area 14" on the Assessor's map) is not the biggest increase in the City, but it's big enough.  And as assessments increase, there's always that nagging feeling that an increase in the tax bill must be on the horizon.

That's not necessarily the case, however.  Or perhaps a better way of describing the situation is to say that there's not a 1:1 correlation between the assessment increase on a home and the resulting property tax increase on that property.  The tax rate, as we've discussed here many times, is a product of other factors (principally tax levies and the independent budget actions of city, county and local service districts, such as library districts).  Nevertheless, having an increase in a tax assessment probably is a mixed blessing at best.

In 2013 the average home in our area was assessed at $986,200.  With the 2014 increase, that average tax value is now $1,105,600. This does not include the 574 properties that were significantly "improved" during the last year. The increase for those properties is necessarily higher than the standard 12.1% applied to non-improved homes.

Anyway, here's what you should be looking for in your mail in the next few days:

And if you'd like to appeal, here's where to start: King County eAppeals.  You've got 60 days to appeal from the date you receive the notice.

[Photo, lifted from Curbed Seattle, of a home in Madrona.]

Monday, May 19, 2014

April Police Blotter

Burglaries increase as weather improves

It's much the same story every year: as we head into the summer months, burglaries accelerate in the neighborhood and eventually, after several months of this increased criminal activity, we remind readers to be vigilant.  This year we're reminding everyone early on: watch those open doors and windows on warm days and don't leave ladders propped up against your house or lying handy in the yard. These thoughtless acts can become invitations to the wrong kind of guest.

Not that criminals really need an invitation. There are always a number of forced-entry burglaries that occur here in any given month, good weather or bad.  We had a few of these in April. The first took place on the 2200 block of 39th Avenue E. at about 1pm on April 3. A woman reported to police that an unknown male had come into her house through a window and might still be in the house.  Police checked the house but did not find the intruder.  She told police that the perpetrator, described as a Latino male in his early 20s, had suddenly entered her second-story bedroom.  The woman screamed and the man ran back downstairs, apparently exiting through an open window.   Police found latent prints around the window sill.  A police search of the neighborhood was inconclusive.

There was a burglary reported on the 3800 block of E. Highland Drive on April 11.  The homeowner reported that when he returned home that afternoon he noticed that the drawers to his desk were open and that some "Sacagawea coins" were missing.  As he walked towards his bedroom, he discovered a crowbar on the floor near the bedroom door and noticed that the back door to the house was wide open.  It appeared that the intruders had tried to use the crowbar to gain entrance to the door leading to the main house, where the victim's landlords lived.  Police determined that the suspect had probably entered the premises through an open window.

Another incident occurred on the 1200 block of 38th Avenue E. and was reported on April 17, when a homeowner discovered that about $60,000 worth of heirloom jewelry had been stolen from a safe in her home.  She reported to police that the home is completely armed, and the only people who knew the code were family members and the cleaning crew, who had worked for her for more than ten years. The thief, after stealing the jewelry, had replaced the empty boxes back in the safe so that the theft would go unnoticed for some time.  The victim told police that she had last seen the jewelry on February 14.

A burglary also occurred on April 21 in The Edgewater Apartments.  The apartment dwellers reported that when they left their residence in the morning they had locked the door.  When they returned, however, the door was not dead-bolted.  They immediately noticed that an iPad was missing from the apartment, later noticing that a keyboard for the iPad, plus two chargers and two headphones were also not to be found.  Some jewelry had also been taken.  The police report notes that there was no sign of forced entry, but the apartment had a kitchen window that didn't lock and that leads to a fire escape which is shared with a neighbor.  The apartment building, which contains six apartments, is accessible through a secured main-floor lobby, to which tenants gain access by punching a code into an exterior keypad.

There were also two burglaries of neighborhood businesses during the month. On April 2, Nishino experienced a break-in.  A 3 ft. by 2 ft. double-paned window was shattered on the front of the restaurant and the suspect climbed inside. It  appeared that he had cut himself in the process, since there were blood smears on the floor, leading through the restaurant toward the rear exit. Nothing appeared to have been stolen. In the second incident, occurring on April 27, a business on the 4100 block of E. Madison Street.  The owner reported that about $2,000 worth of product had been stolen from the premises.

During the month there were also three cases of fraud/identity theft in the neighborhood (one from the Madison Park Blogger's household), one stolen vehicle (from the 2000 block of 43rd Avenue E. on April 16) and one car prowl (on the 1800 block of 43rd Avenue E. on April 24). There were also three reports of graffiti and two reports of thefts during April.

Looking Back at the First Quarter:  We were remiss in the first three months of the year in not reporting monthly on criminal activity (for which we apologize).  Here, however, are the statistics for reported crimes during the period:

Burglaries:  10
Car Thefts:  0
Car Break-ins:  13
Identify Thefts:  8

[Guide to map icons:  solid cars are car thefts, not-solid cars are car prowls, dollar signs are identity theft, dollar bills are thefts, spray-paint cans are property damage (usually graffiti) and starbursts are burglaries.]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Remembering Madison Park's other bank robber

Hollywood Bandit's 1990s spree ends in suicide

Last month's unlikely robbery of the Madison Park Wells Fargo Bank branch was not---as several long-time neighborhood residents have pointed out---unprecedented. Though the cross-dressing aspect of last month's holdup certainly was a novel element, a much-earlier stick up was also perpetrated by a disguised robber targeting the same bank branch, back in the days when it was part of First Interstate Bank.

The infamous perpetrator was Scott Scurlock, dubbed the "Hollywood Bandit" by the press because of his many different disguises. Though the son of a Baptist minister, Scurlock spurned the ways of the Lord, turning to crime early in life. By the time he was a student at the Evergreen State College in the late 1970s he was manufacturing crystal meth, using chemicals stolen from the college. Later, operating from a farm in Olympia, he established himself as a major source of supply for drug dealers in the Pacific Northwest, according to a HistoryLink essay.

By the 1990s, however, Scurlock apparently decided that the drug business was just too risky, so he hit upon the idea of bank robbery as a lucrative method of financing his lifestyle. For some reason he determined that Madison Park was a likely starting point for his new criminal venture, and his immediate success here in 1992 led to a four-and-a-half-year, fifteen-robbery crime spree that was to ultimately net Scurlock more than $2 million.

But it ended badly.

Just why the 35-year-old targeted a Madison Park bank branch for his first heist has never been adequately explained. In her book about Scurlock's criminal run, The End of the Dream: The Golden Boy Who Never Grew Up, crime author Ann Rule writes, "It was actually rather a stupid plan, full of pitfalls, a script that might have worked in a movie but had little basis in reality."  As she notes, Madison Park was a good distance from a freeway and a difficult neighborhood from which to make a quick getaway. Nevertheless, Scurlock chose the neighborhood's Seafirst (now Bank of America) branch as his initial target; and having enlisted a longtime buddy and the buddy's girlfriend as accomplices, he drove with them to Madison Park, arriving here just before noon on Thursday, June 25, 1992.

The robbery went off without a hitch. Wearing a makeup and a fake nose, Scurlock and his somewhat reluctant friend, Mark Biggins (wearing a Ronald Reagan mask), entered the Seafirst branch, Scurlock yelling, "This is a hold-up. Don't anybody move."  As reported by Rule, Scurlock, after leaping onto the teller counter, jumped behind the line of tellers and began scooping cash our of the teller drawers.  Biggins, meanwhile, brandished a gun, telling employees and customers to lie down on the floor.  Since Biggins' girlfriend, Traci, had dropped the two off at the heist, they needed to commandeer a getaway car (Scurlock was concerned about using his own van in the robbery since it could have been traced to him).  They were fortunate in having seen a bank customer drive into the parking lot as they were approaching the bank, so once the cash was in hand, Scurlock requested that the man turn over his keys to the two robbers, which of course he did.

They drove the man's blue Cadillac to the pre-arranged meeting point where Traci was supposed to be, but she wasn't there.  So, abandoning the Cadillac in an alley, Scurlock and Biggins made a run for it.  Rule's narrative continues, "They had talked of a backup meeting spot, and they leapt over a fence onto the golf course of the extremely posh, gated Broadmoor community.  Golfers saw them coming--two men in masks carrying a bag of money--and they stopped, open-mouthed in mid-swing. Incredibly, nobody tried to stop them."

While still inside Broadmoor, apparently, the two were able to remove their disguises and then meet up with Traci at the back-up rendezvous point. The three raced off in Scurlock's van, pursued by no one, $19,971 richer.

William Scott Scurlock

And so Scurlock's bank-robbing career began.  With Biggins and his girlfriend declining to do another heist, Scurlock amazingly decided that since the first robbery had gone so well he'd hit the same branch again.  On his own this time, he returned to the Madison Park Seafirst branch just two months later, on August 20, 1992, and again successfully robbed the place, taking home $8,125 for his efforts.  Security cameras failed to activate in time, the witnesses were fuzzy about the description of the robber, and the tellers hadn't been unable to slip any marked bills or dye-packs into the stolen loot. Scurlock was emboldened.

Over the next three months, Scurlock and accomplices robbed four more banks, including the Seafirst branch in Hawthorne Hills (now a veterinary clinic, located across the street from Metropolitan Market). His take for the year: $302,890.

Scurlock was to rob the Hawthorne Hills Seafirst two more times (as Rule notes, "he had  aways found gratifying sacks of money there.") He also robbed the West Seattle and Wedgwood branches of U.S. Bank, as well as the Wedgwood branch of First Interstate Bank (now Wells Fargo), as well as two banks in Portland.  

In 1994 he decided to return to his sentimental favorite, Madison Park, with another attempt at the Seafirst branch.  According to Rule, Scurlock was superstitious, thinking that because he had been successful at the Hawthorne Hills Seafirst three times, the Madison Park Seafirst just might yield big bucks on the third try: "The Madison Park area attracted Seattle's young movers and shakers...There was money in Madison Park.  You could almost smell it in the air." On Friday, January 20, 1995, Scurlock and a sidekick, Steve Meyers, descended upon the Seafirst branch and hauled away a cool $252,466.  As always, Scurlock got away clean.

Madison Park was to be hit a fourth time by Scurlock.  On May 22, 1996, the neighborhood's First Interstate branch was the target, Scurlock and company escaping with $114,979.  When leaving, Scurlock reportedly told the customers and employees, "Stay there in the middle. Don't push any alarms.  Don't watch me leave, and I won't be back to bother you. If you do, I will have to come back and hurt you."

By this time the police were becoming understandably frustrated. The "Hollywood Bandit" had successfully robbed fourteen bank branches over a four-year period, and because of his various disguises his identity still was not known. Beginning in August 1996, the Seattle Police began staking out banks in Madison Park and other likely neighborhoods (including Wedgwood), hoping to catch "Hollywood" in the act.  As it happened, however, Scurlock finally had some bad luck totally unrelated to these stakeouts.  On November 27, 1996 he and two accomplices successfully robbed the Seafirst branch in Lake CIty, hauling away over $1 million.  A bank customer disobeyed Scurlock's orders, however, and followed the robbers as they walked to their van. He then called 9-1-1 with a description of the vehicle and the direction in which the van was heading.  Police were on the tail quickly and a shootout ensued. Two of the robbers were wounded and apprehended, but Scurlock got away (through without the money).

A six-block area of Lake City was cordoned off and a manhunt began that continued into the next day, Thanksgiving.  Scurlock was eventually located when two brothers who were visiting their mother's house became suspicious that a camper stored on her property might be inhabited (the door was locked from the inside and the shades drawn, which was not typical). Peering though a small, shadeless window they saw someone in the camper and called police. Police attempted to contact the occupant and then fired pepper spray through a louvered window of the camper. But when they attempted to enter it, there was a gunshot from inside, so the police emptied over 30 rounds into the camper.

After further unsuccessful attempts to contact the fugitive, police fired a tear gas shell into the camper, followed by a second cannister twenty minutes later. When they finally entered the camper they found Scurlock dead. Next to the body was a 9-mm Glock pistol and an empty shell casing. One of Scurlock's accomplices, recovering from his wounds, fingered Scurlock as the "Hollywood Bandit."  It was the first time the police had the suspect's name. According to the HistoryLink essay, when police raided Scurlock's Olympia farm, "They discovered a cache of weapons, which included handguns, a silencer, several rifles, two sawed-off shotguns, and a large store of ammunition. The agents also seized over $20,000 in cash, passports, airline tickets, police frequency scanners, and portable two-way radios. Hidden under the floor in the barn, they found a secret room where Scurlock applied his makeup, stored his disguises, and counted the loot."

For Scurlock, who died at age 41, it had been quite a run.  Fifteen robberies and an estimated  $2.3 million in stolen loot over four and a half years.  As far as we're aware it would be more than 17 years before anyone again successfully robbed a bank in Madison Park.  But that incident also didn't end well.

[Photos from Ann Rule's The End of the Dream, other than the bottom photo, courtesy of the Seattle Times via HistoryLink.org.]