Monthly Archives: October 2014

When it comes to murder, it’s all about who you know



Marc Chagall, Cain et Abel, 1960

For getting jobs, getting into college and getting murdered, it all depends on who you know. And despite what your parents told you about strangers, it isn’t strangers who pose you the most danger.

The four charged murders so far this year in Kitsap, and one as yet uncharged murder, shed a grim light on this fact. What may be unusual is how the deed is alledged to have been done.

For some, this might be unsurprising, especially those who work with victims of crime, and especially sexual assault victims, as sexual assaults by perfect strangers are rare when compared to the majority of these crimes. But for people who don’t spend their time slogging through the finer details of the human condition, they might be apt to think of murder as typically an impersonal, random act, something performed by an “other.”

But the truth is, when it comes to murder most foul, it usually isn’t strangers who pose the biggest threat.

Consider these facts about murder in Kitsap this year:

-Four of the suspected five murders so far this year are considered “domestic violence,” and the fifth suspect was a trusted neighbor.

-But what do you think when you hear domestic violence and murder? A woman being killed by a male intimate partner? In fact, three of the five victims were men, two were suspected of being killed by the female in an intimate relationship, the third is suspect of being killed by his adult daughter. Again, not surprising for many who work in the muck. We often hear how women are seen as sex objects by society, but not much about how men are seen as violence objects. As such, men are more likely than women to be victims of violence. This is not to minimize the violence suffered by women.

-That also isn’t to say men haven’t been accused of killing females, but not intimate partners. In those cases, the males are suspected of killing young girls. One an infant daughter by her father, one a 6-year-old girl by the neighbor boy.

-Although guns may be the easiest way to kill a person, not a single charged or suspected murder in Kitsap in 2014 was committed with a firearm. There were shootings, in fact the year wasn’t more than an hour old before a guy at a hotel party in Bremerton got shot. Good luck, bad marksmanship, quick responses from medics or easy access to helicopters to get the wounded out of Kitsap might take credit for the fact nobody has been murdered with a gun. * Yet. Knock on wood.

-In fact, when it comes to weapons, just a single case is alleged to involve a conventional weapon, and it was a knife, and that one hasn’t been charged.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Montgomery said the cases so far this year don’t jibe with what many might assume makes up a murder, but the fact that the suspects had a relationship with the deceased is not that out of the ordinary.

“Every case has its own facts,” she said, but conceded the murder cases this year are a little strange. “We scratch our heads a little.”

“The lay person might think of murder as when a person is shot with a gun, or stabbed, and it is a stranger who is the suspect,” she said. But it doesn’t take a gun or a knife to kill somebody, and often enough, the suspect is a person who was in a position of trust, and that can shake our assumptions about those we are close to and who we see as the “other.” Murder is rare, but it doesn’t look far for its victims.

“That is something we don’t want to see as possible,” Montgomery said.

None of the murder cases from this year have made it to trial. Here they are:

Shelly Margaret Arndt, 45, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson for the Feb. 23 death of Darcy Edward Veeder Jr. of Bremerton. Arndt, who has a previous arson conviction for setting a fire in 2011 in a home while Veeder slept, is scheduled to go to trial April 20. She had a second arson charge tacked onto the case from another fire she allegedly set in 2011, but that charge was dismissed last week.

Renee Roberta Nash, 59, is charged with second-degree murder for neglecting her elderly father, Harlan Haynes, 97, who was found in their squalid South Kitsap home March 12. An autopsy found Haynes died of malnutrition and dehydration, and had depended on his daughter for his care. Reports say Nash did not report Haynes’ death for two days. Nash is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 8.

Hector Francisco Saavedra Ruiz, 21, of Kingston, is charged with second-degree murder for the July 16 death of his infant daughter, Natalie. Doctors suspected the child had died from being shaken, and had a broken bone that was healing. Saavedra had taken the child to show her to coworkers, and was said to have smoked meth prior to taking the baby. His trial is also scheduled for Dec. 8.

Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta, 17, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape of a child for the death of 6-year-old Jenise Wright, who was reported missing Aug. 3. The two were neighbors in the same East Bremerton mobile home park. Jenise was found to have died of blunt force trauma, and Gaeta’s DNA was found on an article of clothing belonging to the girl. He is expected to plead not guilty to the charges Oct. 31.

Alan Charpentier, 54, died from knife wounds after fleeing his East Bremerton house Aug. 31 in what his family believes was a murder-suicide attempt. As neighbors gave him aid, Charpentier identified his estranged wife, 55, as his attacker. An autopsy found he had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray before being stabbed, according to court documents. After the attack, the woman is believed to have spread fuel around their house and started a fire, leaving her with burns and smoke inhalation injuries. After having her condition upgraded last week, this week a spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the woman was back in the Intensive Care Unit.

 *There is one fatal shooting by police currently under review.

They called him Lee: The glorious life and strange death of Leon Shaw



The life of Leon Shaw, who died Sept. 14, was larger than most, and if there is a pantheon of glorious Kitsap residents, he deserves honorable mention. Maybe he isn’t in the category of Chief Seattle or Delilah, but maybe the pantheon needs to make some room. From mentoring a bull, to telling the future, to mastering ping pong, to wowing women so often his own sister lost track the number of marriages he had, Lee lived a full life to the fullest. And let us not overlook that sweet mustache. If he was your friend, he would give you the shirt off his back, and not just because he looked good without a shirt.

On Sunday there will be a memorial for this son of South Kitsap. Lee’s family and friends will gather at 3 p.m. at the Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay Street. The service is open to the public.

Lee was born at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton and was raised in Port Orchard. If he would have graduated from South Kitsap High School, he would have been class of 1979. He loved the song “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and used to practice John Travolta’s disco moves. He has a son, who is said to be a spitting image of his father, which is a blessing to the world.

His ability to tell the future came in sudden waves, said his sister Barb.

On one occasion he was riding in a car with their mother and had a vision of him getting dropped off and his mother continuing on and dying in a wreck. His face blanched and then he refused to get out of the car. He might have saved her life.

“Too bad he didn’t visualize his own death before, so he could have prevented it,” Barb said.

Lee’s death, or what is known of it, bizarre and untimely as it is, boggles the mind, and seems so unfair in light of his amazing life. Here is what we know: He met a woman online. They went on a date and had a few drinks, nothing wrong with that. They went to the house of a friend of Lee’s, a tattoo artist. The friend began tattooing the date’s chest. OK.

Well, then Lee’s date becomes “intimate” with his friend. Safe to assume this prompted a “What the hell?” moment from Lee. Reports say a conflict ensued, and that the date hit Lee, and Lee hit her back. They leave. Next thing anyone knows, Lee is dead, likely from being run over. The woman is behind the wheel of Lee’s truck, and has driven over an embankment and is seriously injured. OK then.

This all happened in Gig Harbor, where Lee had been staying with a friend, so it is the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office investigating. A spokesman for the department said Friday investigators are waiting on the results of blood tests.

For a press account, here is the Tacoma News Tribune’s version of events.

Lee’s obituary reads like a piece of folklore, the kind of obituary that should get its own genre. It is definitely the greatest obit I have ever read, and I’ve read a few. The photo, too, is epic. It shows a mountain of a man on the high seas, astraddle a gunwale, what might be a can o’beer in his hand, naked save for well-fitting dungarees presumably because he just gave a friend the shirt off his back. His bronze pecs glisten in the sun, the wind lifts back his wavy mane. He gives an easy smile, along with the peace sign. Damn. All the women wanted to date him, the men would have wanted to date him too if they had any sense.

Here is the obit, in its entirety. It is too well-written, too poetic, to try to summarize like a press release, or to just provide a link. Savor it.

Leon Robert Shaw

June 10, 1961 to Sept. 14, 2014

He was a guy that loved to make you laugh. He had a presence about him when he walked into a room. He stood nearly 6’4” and was handsomely well-built. You’d want this guy for a friend. He had a sweetness that grabbed at your heart strings. He was a very hard worker, he could master just about anything he tried in short order. His word was his bond. You knew you could count on him.

Though he never won any trophies for pool or Ping-Pong, he was one of the best. He liked being athletic to keep his muscles tone. At 10 years old, he had a lawn mowing route in the area of the Forest Park grocers. In South Kitsap High, he was the only boy in the soprano singing section. Then his voice went to bass and he grew four inches in three months.

He ran away from home at 15 and got a job at the golf course on Long Lake Road. He came back to finish his youth. He found work in construction.

He loved his dad teaching him to ride a motorbike, which he taught his sister Barb when she was 15. He loved to go fast and take risks. He had visions, and could predict the future at times, he believed this was due to him being 1/4 Nez Percé Indian. He loved nature and going camping. He was a dead shot with a rifle. All the farm animals loved him. He raised a bull that he could do anything with, while the neighbors sat on an old panel van in the field, as the bull thrashed his horns on the van. That same bull caught our chicken thieves. He had chickens jump on his arm at the snap of his fingers. And when he ran away, our Doberman was so sad he just slept on his dirty clothes.

At age 11, he built a two-story tree house 50 feet up an old maple. He and his brother hoisted up a queen size mattress. Our dad, Leon Sr., gave us a ferry rope to tie up and swing from.

Survivors include BFF, Keith Hoppe (53); his only child, son Jared Burbee (32); mom, Mildred White (76); half sister, Connie DeBoard (60); half sister, Faythe Neese (56); brother, David Shaw (52); sister, Barb Cress (51); stepbrother, Mark McCormick; stepbrother, Robbie Griffin; stepsister, Tracy Griffin.

May he rest in peace and fly with the eagles.

Obit published in the Kitsap Sun on Sept. 19, 2014

The neighbor from Hell

A nearly naked Bremerton woman, high on drugs and apparently banging on a random neighbor’s door and making threats on Monday left a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy struggling with his words.

“I am not sure I can use words to define how heavily intoxicated she appeared,” the deputy wrote in a report.

Law enforcement was called to a residence in South Kitsap evening when a neighbor reported the woman, 34, was pounding on her door, threatening her.

The neighbor told the deputy it was actually the second time this happened. The first was in June.

The deputy interviewed other people in the suspect’s apartment, and noted they were all similarly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, though the neighbor said the woman was on cocaine.

A man at the residence told the deputy that he lost his shoe, and that his name was Ninja.

Another deputy attempted to interview the suspect, but noted in a report, “She was unable to answer any questions and nothing she said made any sense.”

The suspect was charged Tuesday with indecent exposure.