Georgia Gunzer’s murder on Saturday in Tacoma barely made the news. Mark Fulghum, official spokesperson for the Tacoma police department, chalked it up to just another domestic violence murder. Too bad. So sad. Oh, well. He might have gotten away with the callous indifference but for Ms. Gunzer’s loyal friends.
The Tacoma News-Tribune, the infamous lap-dog newspaper that conspired in the betrayal and murder of Crystal Brame, published few details of Ms. Gunzer’s murder. I am so incensed by the number of people who have been murdered due to the callous indifference to domestic violence in Pierce County, WA that I have created a web page to shine a bright spotlight on the cops and the courts.
Thank God for KIRO7 which was the only local media outlet to report the story in-depth yesterday. David Quinlan reported that the alleged 35-year-old murderer has been arrested. Ms. Gunzer had sought an order of protection against her drug dealer, convicted felon, ex-boyfriend Al;phonso Albert Bell~ he is the father of their 10-year-old daughter ~ when he was about to be released from prison because she was deathly afraid for her safety. A Pierce County judge refused to grant her an order of protection.
Update: According to the News Tribune, Court Commissioner Mark L. Gelman denied granting the order of protection because Ms. Gunzer had visited Mr. Bell multiple times while he was in prison. This factor outweighed a previous assault and restraining order ~ which Mr. Bell violated repeatedly ~ and harassing calls from prison ~ a felony in many states which would have extended Mr. Bell’s sentence. Apparently, Commissioner Gelman hasn’t heard the ancient adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. And, he doesn’t get that a little girl is going to need her mother’s assistance to get from Tacoma to Kitsap County to visit her father in prison. He might be a convicted felon, but he’s still her daddy. If Commissioner Gelman isn’t able to see the red flags in this case, he is incompetent to hear domestic violence restraining order cases.
Sadly, she was correct. She was stabbed to death in her apartment in Tacoma on Saturday morning. Her young daughter and five of her friends were sleeping in the apartment when it happened. The alleged perpetrator left the apartment to call 911.
Cynde Marckmann, a registered nurse and Ms. Gunzer’s co-worker at Sound Family Medicine which is a health clinic in Puyallup, told Mr. Quinlan:
I hope that justice is served. Obviously, he is locked away. I hope our justice system will wake up and look at these women who come for protection and give them protection ~ that they will listen to these women.
This afternoon the Tacoma News Tribune reported that Alphonso A. Bell has been charged with first-degree murder.
The Pierce County court system hasn’t yet responded to KIRO7’s inquiry into why the restraining order was refused.
Just as I was about to publish this post, KING5 ran a story by Linda Brill on the evening news. I learned that Ms. Gunzer’s 10-year-old daughter opened the door for police responding to Mr. Bell’s 911 call. She was having a sleep-over with her friends while her mother was murdered. Obviously, all the little girls are severely traumatized.
Ms. Brill included a tape of Ms. Gunzer’s friends who said she felt she needed to be nice to Mr. Bell to protect herself after she had been denied an order of protection. I cannot fathom this level of deathly fear, but I fully appreciate this level of desperation. Ms. Marckmann summed it up accurately:
I think the system failed her, and I think the system is broken.
Ms. Brill has joined KIRO7 in a demand for answers from the Pierce County courts. It’s about damned time for the mainstream media to start asking hard questions.
Deborah Horne at KIRO7 has just reported that the Pierce County prosecutor is also asking hard questions, and a domestic violence expert believes the order of protection request was littered with red flag warnings that Ms. Gunzer was, in fact, in mortal danger.
Update: During an e-mail exhange with Jack Cameron, who chronicles Tacoma murders on his blog, I recalled that an order of protection would have made Ms. Gunzer eligible to join Washington’s excellent Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). When I called the angels at our ACP, I learned that one is no longer required because in many cases time is of the essence. Still, it probably would have triggered a process that would have let her know this fabulous resource was available to her. She could have been safe. Mr. Bell wouldn’t have known how to find her and her daughter.
There will be a candlelight vigil for Ms. Gunzer Friday, January 28 at 7:00 PM at Sound Family Medicine. My heart goes out to Ms. Gunzer’s young daughter and her friends.