The DC Sniper was “known to police” in Pierce County, WA for domestic violence. Isaiah M.K. Kalebu was also “known to police” in Pierce and King Counties, WA for domestic violence. But, he kept slipping through the cracks. The timeline created by the Seattle Times is chilling even though it doesn’t include Kalebu’s first alleged crime: breaking into the Auburn, WA city hall on March 27, 2008. DNA and videotape at the scene of that unsolved crime provided the link to the rape and murder of Teresa Butz and the rape and attempted murder of her domestic partner.
The hero in this story is a bus driver who recognized Kalebu’s pit bull and alerted Seattle police.
The goats in this story are King County Judge Brian Gain, who repeatedly allowed Kalebu to be released, and the Pierce County authorities who didn’t arrest him for burning down his aunt’s home. She had a domestic violence protection order against Kalebu. The latter are the same folks who failed to protect Crystal Judson Brame from her estranged husband David, Tacoma, WA’s chief of police. So, it is no surprise they let the DC Sniper slip through the cracks as well.
Three people are dead this month. A fourth was recently released from the hospital.
Yes, the cops and prosecutors did an amazing job after Teresa Butz’ murder. The Seattle police department set up a command post in her neighborhood. As you can see, Ms. Butz is white.
The rest of Kalebu’s victims were black. First, there was his mother Denise who got a restraining order against him two days after he allegedly broke into the Auburn city hall in March, 2008. The next day he threw a rock through his sister’s window. He was arrested for felony harassment and domestic violence. On August 21, 2008, he was released into the care of his aunt Rachel.
On July 9, 2009, Rachel’s home was set on fire in the wee hours of the morning after she’d gotten her own order of protection against Kalebu. She and her tenant, former NFL quarterback John Eddie Jones, died in the fire. Although Kalebu was an obvious suspect, he was never arrested by Pierce County authorities.
On July 10, Kalebu missed the pretrial hearing on the criminal charges arising from the case involving his mother. Judge Gain refused to issue a bench warrant.
On July 13, prosecutors asked Judge Gain to remand Kalebu into custody in light of the arson and homocides at Rachel’s home. Again, Judge Gain refused.
On July 19, Ms. Butz and her partner were brutally raped and stabbed.
On July 25, Kalebu went before pro-tem Judge Karli Jorgensen, who saw the wisdom of setting bail for Kalebu at $10 million. He will go on trial in August for threatening to kill his mother.
We often think of domestic violence as a crime between lovers or spouses. Yet, in this case, the victims were a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend of the family, and two complete strangers. Domestic violence may start at home, but it ultimately terrorizes us all.
Update: Mr. Kalebu was found guilty of murder, rape, and robbery on July 1, 2011. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. The prosecutor opted to forego the death penalty because of Mr. Kalebu’s mental state.
Eli Sanders at The Stranger won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his article about the testimony of Teresa Butz’ domestic partner (who survived the attack) at the trial of Isaiah Kalebu: “The Bravest Woman in Seattle.” Her chilling testimony is recounted in detail in Mr. Sanders’ blog posts: