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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: torture

Final kidnapping suspect sentenced

The final of five suspects pleaded guilty Thursday to kidnapping in connection with a case where a woman was tied up in a Spokane hotel and had her head shaved before being dumped in a rock pit by her assailants.

Desiree N. Walling, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping as part of an Alford plea, which acknowledges prosecutors could likely prove the charge. She also agreed to plead guilty to first-degree and second-degree trafficking in stolen property as part of a separate sentence that will run at the same time as the kidnapping incarceration: 51 months.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

May 13, 2011: Five accused of kidnapping, torture

Duncan wants to appeal death penalty

BOISE - Notorious multiple murderer Joseph Duncan was back in a Boise courtroom on Friday morning, as lawyers and a federal judge wrangled over setting a date for a new hearing into whether Duncan was mentally competent when he waived appeals of his triple death sentence for torturing and murdering a 9-year-old North Idaho boy.

Duncan, brought to Boise from federal Death Row in Terre Haute, Ind., his hair close-cropped and graying and wearing a baggy white T-shirt, left all the talking to his attorneys on Friday morning. But in December of 2010, he submitted a hand-written, two-page letter to the court saying he now wants to appeal after all.

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell's story here.

Torture dungeon trucker pleads guilty

By MICHAEL GRACZYK,Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas trucker who kept a torture dungeon in the cab of his long-haul rig has avoided the death penalty by accepting life prison sentences for murdering a hitchhiking couple two decades ago.

 Robert Ben Rhoades, who already is serving a life sentence for killing a 14-year-old girl in Illinois, pleaded guilty to two counts of capital murder when he appeared before a West Texas judge this week. He has no chance of parole.

Described by authorities as a sadistic killer, Rhoades was charged with the 1990 abductions and slayings of newlyweds Douglas Scott Zyskowski, 28, and Patricia Walsh, 24. Authorities said the couple left Seattle in November 1989, and were hitchhiking to Georgia to preach the Christian gospel when they accepted a ride from Rhoades near El Paso.

Zyskowski's body was found in January 1990 along Interstate 10 east of Ozona, about 320 miles east of El Paso. He'd been shot, and his body wasn't identified until 1992. The remains of his wife were found in October 1990 by deer hunters in central Utah, but they weren't identified until 13 years later by dental records.

Police believe Rhoades held the woman captive for about a week, systematically torturing and assaulting her before shooting her several times.

Rhoades was initially charged in Utah with her death, but he was later extradited to Texas where authorities said the kidnappings took place. Prosecutors in Ozona said they would seek the death penalty, but his trial was repeatedly delayed since 2009.

Under the plea agreement accepted Monday, the life prison sentences in Texas would keep him behind bars if he somehow gets out of prison in Illinois. The 66-year-old also agreed to waive any rights to appeals and parole. It's unclear whether he'll stay in a Texas prison or be returned to Illinois.

FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap in Houston said agents couldn't comment on the case because investigations involving Rhoades are continuing. District Attorney Laurie English was not available Thursday, and messages left with Rhoades' lawyers were not immediately returned.

Rhoades' Illinois conviction stems from the abduction and slaying of Regina Walters, a 14-year-old runaway from Pasadena, Texas. She disappeared in February 1990 with an 18-year-old boyfriend who told friends they planned to hitchhike to Mexico.

Her body was found months later at an abandoned farm near Greenville, Ill. Her companion has never been located.

By the time Walters' remains were found, Rhoades was in custody — after authorities discovered what was inside his truck.

A state trooper near Casa Grande, Ariz., stopped on I-10 to check on a tractor-trailer with blinking lights in April 1990. He discovered Rhoades inside the cab with a hysterical naked woman who had been chained and shackled to a wall.

She later told investigators that she'd been tortured and whipped, that Rhoades told her he was known as “Whips and Chains” and had been involved in such activity for years.

Houston police found another woman who'd managed to escape from Rhoades and told a similar story of torture. FBI agents called into the case searched his Houston apartment and found torture devices and photos of a teenage girl handcuffed and shackled and in various poses at a barn. The girl subsequently was identified as Walters, who had been strangled with bailing wire attached to a piece of lumber.

Rhoades was convicted and sentenced in Arizona on aggravated assault, sexual assault and unlawful imprisonment charges stemming from the woman being held in his truck, then was charged with the Illinois slaying. He pleaded guilty.

Sibling murder suspects plead not guilty

Two teenage siblings pleaded not guilty to aggravated first-degree murder charges Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court. 

Video conference at the jail isn't working, so Breeanna C. Sims, 19, and Justice E.D. Sims, 18, appeared in person before Judge Michel Price, wearing light blue jail jumpsuits and shackles.

Breeanna Sims appeared to smile or smirk during the hearing. She sat apart from her brother, and the two had no contact during the afternoon hearing.

Friends and family of murder victim Nicholas J. Thoreson, including the mother of his 1-year-old son, attended the arraignments, which came one day after defendant Taylor J. Wolf, 20, pleaded not guilty to aggravated first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, second-degree arson, and taking a motor vehicle without the owner's permission.

The Simses face the same charges, though Breeanna Sims also is charged with rendering criminal assistance for allegedly trying to remove guns from a field near where Thoreson's body was found in the back of his burning Thunderbird on April 13.

The Simses and Wolf remain in the Spokane County Jail on $1 million bond. The Simses are pictured in court, courtesy of KHQ.

Past coverage:

May 19: Suspect spoke of murder in jail call

May 3: Homicide victim remembered in obituary

April 21: Homicide victim may have been tortured

April 14: Man in burned car was shot in head; suspect jailed

Five accused of kidnapping, torture

Five suspects have been accused of kidnapping and torturing a Spokane woman before shaving her head and writing “narc” and “thief” on her face.

Waylon M. “Creeper” Azure, 33, pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and torture charges Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, five weeks after police say he helped abduct Doreen Wiker from the Select Inn, 1420 W. Second Ave., in Spokane.

Wiker said one of her assailants was in a wheelchair when he threatened her with the gun.

Read the rest of my story here.

Prostitute attacked in torture chamber

SEATTLE (AP) — A text message helped save a prostitute who was chained and tortured for hours — including by electrical shock — in a room with 8-inch-thick walls, chains, ropes and paddles, police said.

Authorities allege that in addition to repeatedly shocking the 24-year-old woman, John Joseph Hauff Jr. struck her with a paddle, used a catheter to force liquid into her bladder and assaulted her with a gynecological instrument.

Hauff stopped when the woman told him that she had texted his car’s license plate number to her boyfriend before entering the man’s home, and asked him to call police if she wasn’t heard from by midnight, according to a probable cause statement.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

Torture video leads to murder arrest

A video provided to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office helped detectives in Western Washington identify suspects in a torture and murder case.

Someone notified the sheriff's office “a while ago” about the video, and a detective picked it up, said Sgt. Dave Reagan.

“We observed what appeared to be somebody being tortured or tormented on the video” and contacted law enforcement in the Tacoma area on the advice of the person who provided the video,  Reagan said.

The video led Lakewood police to arrest Michael E. Crosman, 25, on Wednesday. He was arraigned Thursday on an aggravated first-degree murder charge and is being held on $5 million bail.

If convicted, the charge carries the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The Tacoma News Tribune says a warrant has been issued for the arrest of 30-year-old Maalo Samaota.

Prosecutors allege Crosman videotaped a young man who'd been bound and gagged with duct tape and was tortured with a knife. Court documents allege that Samaota is the attacker on the video, according to the Associated Press.

According to court papers, Crosman told detectives the victim had stolen a vehicle that contained drugs and the attack was payback.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist says detectives believe human remains found March 10 near Harts Lake in Pierce County are those of the still-unidentified victim.

Men admit to kidnapping, assaulting burglar

Two men who kidnapped and assaulted a burglary suspect will serve time for the crime.

Jesse T.R. Bushnell, 19, (right) was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty Friday to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree attempted assault.

Chaz P. Crow , 21, was sentenced earlier that week to a year and 10 days in jail for the same charges; he’ll be credited for time served. Crow’s sentence was a few days longer than prosecutors recommended - Judge Jerome Leveque said he deserved it.

Crow and Bushnell were arrested in April after an attack on a suspected burglar who reportedly bought marijuana from Crow and was caught leaving Crow’s apartment with a rifle and a half-ounce of pot, according to court records.

The men dragged the burglar from his apartment hours later and beat him until he told them where to find some of the items. They kidnapped him again later that night and demanded the stolen marijuana.

Firefighters found the victim walking near the Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road with a broken nose, concussion and wounds “all about his head and body,” according to court documents prepared by Spokane police.

Charges against a 17-year-old boy arrested with Crow and Bushnell have been dismissed.

Past coverage:

Police: Pot dealer tortured burglary suspect

Teen torture suspects due in court today

Two teens accused of kidnapping and torturing a suspected burglar are in police custody.

Jesse T.R. Bushnell, 19; (left) and Jesse R. James, 17, are due in Superior Court this afternoon via video from the jail, where they’ve been since Tuesday.

Bushnell and James are accused of helping Chaz P. Crow, 20, kidnap and torture a burglar on two occasions last week.

Crow was arrested Thursday and is to be arraigned this afternoon on two counts of first-degree kidnapping, one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree assault: torture.

The suspects are accused of kidnapping a man they caught burglarizing Crow’s home, then beating him until he told them where to find some of the stolen items. Bushnell then pistol-whipped  the man with the stolen rifle, police said.

The attackers kidnapped the man again from a home at 2525 E. 53rd later that night and demanded the stolen marijuana, according to court documents. Bushnell reportedly poked the alleged victim repeatedly with a metal wire during the long car ride, according to court documents.

Read more about the case here.

Police: Drug dealer, teens tortured burglar

Two teenagers and a Spokane man are accused of kidnapping and torturing a suspected burglar.

Police believe Chaz P. Crow, 20; Jesse T.R. Bushnell, 19; and Jesse R. James, 17, kidnapped Russell Cole on two occasions in revenge for Cole stealing from Crow’s apartment, according to court documents filed this week.

Crow is in jail on a $5,000 cash-only bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court today.

James and Bushnell are not in custody, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help catch Bushnell. (Bushnell is pictured at left.)

Two other suspects have not been identified.

The case began last weekend when detectives say the suspects spotted Cole, who reportedly bought drugs from Crow, leaving Crow’s apartment with valuables, including a rifle and a half-ounce of marijuana.

The suspects are accused of dragging Cole from his apartment at 3005 E. 35th hours after the burglary, then beating him until he told them where to find some of the stolen items. Bushnell then pistol-whipped Cole with the stolen rifle, police said.

The attackers left but kidnapped Cole again from a home at 2525 E. 53rd later that night and demanded the stolen marijuana, according to court documents.

Firefighters found Cole walking on near the Palouse Highway and Valley Chapel Road with a broken nose, concussion and wounds “all about his head and body,” according to court documents prepared by Spokane police.

James’ brother, Martin Garcia, lives at the home on 53rd. Garcia told police the men bound Cole’s hands with black electrical tape before tying a bandanna around his eyes.

James reportedly apologized to Garcia and assured him they wouldn’t kill Cole, but Crow said “You don’t know that,” according to court documents.

The men drove about 40 minutes to a field before pulling Cole from the car and assaulting him.

Crow, Bushnell and James are charged in Spokane County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree kidnapping, one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree assault: torture.

The assault charge alleged the men inflicted harm “which by design did cause such pain or agony as to be the equivalent of that produced by torture.”

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