It has been a busy week in domestic violence and homicide news here in Washington State. You can search this blog (see the box at the upper right corner) for more posts on each case.
Last Friday, convicted serial killer Robert Yates filed an appeal in federal court in an attempt to escape the death penalty again. The State Supreme Court already upheld the death penalty in this case and the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t touch that.
Now Yates, also known as the Spokane Serial Killer, claims that he had ineffective counsel that failed to highlight supposed mental illness. He also says they didn’t showcase his many positive aspects including his positive, loving relationships such as with his family members and his “acts of caring and kindness.”
He has the right to try even if its a waste of taxpayer dollars to keep working the system to try to escape death. But when you consider the brutality, arrogance, and sadism involved in Yates’ crimes, almost anyone could believe in the death penalty. This is someone who used and murdered human beings and threw them away like trash, as well as having sex with some of his victims’ bodies.
It is those acts of necrophilia that seem to be the basis for his claim of mental illness. According to the Seattle Times article I’m glancing at right now, http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/05/serial-killer-robert-yates-jr-seeks-federal-appeal-of-death-sentence/, Yates says he has a severe paraphilic disorder and frankly I don’t see how that could stick.
To be a disorder, one’s paraphilia (unusual sexual behavior) has to cause distress or impair one’s behavior. Yates’ crimes were his recreational heroin, not his handicap. He had a great deal of extramarital sex with live people and they didn’t need to be dead for him to get aroused. His violating their corpses was likely a way of feeling power over his victims as if he owned them.
I’ll also point out that Yates was very two-faced during his crime spree. He was an Army pilot and supposed family man in the public eye and in private he frequently picked up prostitutes, murdering some of them. He knew exactly what he was doing and consciously compartmentalized his life to avoid getting caught. He was very “caring” to some sex workers and viciously killed others (my guess is that he killed the ones he perceived as not arousing him). He made choices.
A KXLY article, http://www.kxly.com/news/spokane-news/serial-killer-yates-appealing-death-sentence/-/101214/20189960/-/x32f89/-/index.html, says Yates wants to shine the spotlight on how he “helped” one of his murder victim’s family members find “comfort and relief.” He “helped” by leading authorities to where he’d buried her body– Melody Murfin was found just three feet underground right outside his bedroom window. How’s that for a “nice guy?” His wife and children could have found her.
What Yates isn’t telling you is that many details of his conversations with authorities have been kept secret and there’s still a great deal of information that he could disclose. He should not be attempting to paint himself as cooperative when he’s still withholding details. It should also be noted that– like most serial killers– he’s probably responsible for more homicides than anyone knows. He’s only been convicted of what occurred in Washington, not other places he’s lived.
Don’t feel sorry for Yates. He got his kicks murdering people (clear back to an unsuspecting young couple he ran across in the woods in the 1970s) and then playing some sort of sick chess game with the authorities. It’s narcissism and the same could be said of his continued quest to escape the death penalty. He doesn’t think he deserves that. I do believe something’s wrong with him and it has roots going back to childhood but it does not excuse his purposeful behavior.
Some of his family does keep in touch with him as far as I know and that is their right, but however “good” he believes he is because of that, he still put a lot of people through a lot of hell. The death penalty is appropriate in this case, and if Yates is truly wanting to be “helpful,” then he’ll come completely clean about ALL of his crimes. It’s also time to start talking about his thought processes at the time his first marriage broke up.
Josh, Michael, and Steven Powell
Yesterday the West Valley City, Utah police closed their investigation into the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell. They believe it was Michael Powell, the brother of primary suspect Josh Powell, who was involved, not Steven Powell, the voyeuristic pervert father-in-law who should be getting out of prison in two days. Even so, Steven Powell probably knows more than he’s let on given his lack of cooperation with the police.
Michael Powell, the beneficiary of Josh Powell’s hefty life insurance policy, committed suicide this past February, https://wildninja.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/powell-suicide/. Josh Powell killed his and Susan’s two small sons and himself in a fiery explosion a year prior to that, https://wildninja.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/3084/. Some people were convinced that Powell would kill the children but he was allowed to be present in their lives regardless.
Thankfully there’s still a federal investigation into Susan’s disappearance according to Seattle attorney Anne Bremner (you go Anne!), http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Lawyer-Feds-investigate-Susan-Powell-case-208359891.html. Some people are asking why the investigation should continue and to them I pose this question: what if your daughter’s body was never found? Plus there are still people alive who could have been involved.
Today another aspect of the Powell case came to light– Josh Powell had an affair with a woman who broke the relationship off after she found out who he really was on the news. He’d been using an alias and evidently had passed himself off as unmarried. Ladies– this is exactly why I’m a strong proponent of running background checks on men before you get involved with them. Criminal history convictions and most court records are public; the few bucks it costs you to check him out are worth every penny.
The involvement of another woman who didn’t realize who she was having sex with is an excellent transition to this next case.
A person claiming to be a neighbor of Smith’s left the same comments on this blog and shared them with the Bothell Reporter as well. The police were called because neighbors saw a naked woman in Smith’s backyard (yes, the same house where Susann Smith was recently murdered). Read the details at http://www.bothell-reporter.com/news/208187841.html.
The woman who was contacted is said to be a new girlfriend of Smith’s who claimed to be unaware that anyone could see her. This could be a woman who hasn’t done her homework on her new paramour, who’s been lied to, who’s oblivious, or who’s turned on by dating a man being looked at for murdering his wife. Regardless of what the story is, who sprawls out naked for her new boyfriend just feet from where his estranged wife was bludgeoned to death?
Smith’s behavior all along doesn’t seem to reflect that of a man whose top priority is his children. He supposedly wants to regain custody of them and move them back into the house where their mother was murdered. He moved back in there recently. Right now I don’t know of a legal reason that would prevent the children from going back to him, but they remain in the custody of CPS.
Some would say it’s unfair to convict Smith publicly without him being arrested for Susann Smith’s murder, but this seems to be someone who is hanging himself. It seems like he was emotionally over Susann long before her death as he was already dating and his behavior appears very self-gratifying and arrogant. I keep going back to what I said a few days ago in Murdering Susann Smith, that it’s like a man climbing to a mountaintop and posing proudly next to the flag that symbolizes his conquest. We’ll see.
In all three cases justice is yet to be served. Yates needs to share the rest of the story, Steven Powell and any other associates need to start talking, and someone needs to be arrested for the murder of Susann Smith.
I have a great deal of empathy for the victims’ families, friends, and neighbors in these cases. Waiting for justice can be one of the most difficult things you ever have to deal with and it can be hell to see a killer get away with blotting out another life. I’ve seen it happen in my own life and it involved the same deception, arrogance, and attempts to paint oneself as the sacrificial saint in an effort to avoid being brought to justice.
For this reason I take deep comfort in Matthew 10:26, knowing that God sees everything and at the end of our lives we will all stand before Him: “…for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Ultimately, if not now then in the end, there will be justice.
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