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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

City of Second Chances

Kim Barker The Spokesman-Review
Eddie Ray Hall may be a $1 million man. He’s a 10-time felon, a home-grown, smash-and-dash burglar who started by stealing baby-sitting money and ended up in prison. He’s also been convicted of at least 12 misdemeanors and arrested at least 47 times. This is what is known — and it’s probably a conservative accounting — about the number of crimes and the amount of money Hall has cost society. He’s a shocking example of how much damage one criminal can do. Sheriff’s detectives say that for every Hall arrest over the past 18 years, they suspect him of committing 25 more crimes, mostly in the Spokane Valley. “As soon as he was arrested, the crime rate dropped,” says Dick Lovejoy, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant. Hall, who turned 34 last month, finished his last prison sentence in December and says he’s put his life of crime behind him. “I haven’t done nothing in years. I’m done.” He has spent more than one-fourth of his life behind bars, which has cost taxpayers at least $160,000. When he’s not in jail or prison, he’s under supervision. That has cost more than $5,000, so far. Hall has struggled with drugs and rarely works alone. He’s never killed anyone, although he was shot once. He’s the guy who breaks in while you’re gone and steals the liquor, rifles through your drawers and takes your guns. He’s usually on public assistance, and he often stays with his parents, who live in Greenacres. When he is charged with a crime, he always gets a public defender. That has cost more than $7,000 over the years. Hall never goes to trial, which actually has saved taxpayers’ money. He usually pleads guilty as charged. His crimes, which six out of 10 times involved burglary, don’t count under the state’s “three strikes you’re out” law. “The system has paid for this guy his whole life, and he’s just victimized the population of Spokane County,” says Mike Massong, a retired sheriff’s detective. “He hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve known him. There’s no reason for him to change now.” Hall was first arrested when he was 16. He and a friend entered Robert Torgrimson’s home in Greenacres in the early evening, grabbed a lockbox with $280 in baby-sitting money and knocked Torgrimson’s 15-year-old son over the head. “I hope I never see him again,” Robert Torgrimson says. Hall was supervised by Juvenile Court for six months. But three months after his arrest, he tried to steal some gas. That time, he got another 4-1/2 months of supervision. When Hall was 17, he and two friends tried to break into Greenacres Junior High on Thanksgiving in 1981. They caused about $450 in damage. Rumor was, they wanted to steal the school microwave. Hall broke his leg when he fell off the building. Juvenile Court confined him for three days and put him under six months of supervision. Hall says the county paid for his medical care. His first adult felony came in 1983, when Hall was 18. He was arrested trying to sell a stolen microwave and gun. He ran after being told to freeze, and was found hiding underneath a car. His six-month sentence for possessing stolen property was suspended when he went into a drug program. But Hall didn’t complete it successfully, and was jailed for 50 days. That episode cost taxpayers at least $9,000. When Hall was 19, he was charged with hitting his aunt on the head and robbing her of $70. Hall and his aunt had been visiting his grandmother, who was in the hospital and died a few weeks later. The charge was dropped, because his aunt refused to testify. In December 1984, when Hall was 20, he and a friend broke into a Valley home and stole some Christmas presents, pistols, silver coins and a Tootsie Roll bank. Sheriff’s deputies caught them in the act. Hall ran, but a police dog found him hiding under some brush and leaves. He was sent to jail for six months. That case cost taxpayers more than $13,500. About a year later, Hall was charged with helping a friend dispose of a murder victim’s body. The charge was later dropped. A few months later, Hall and Quinton Beck hooked up for the first of three convictions. The two were caught during a home burglary in Greenacres on New Year’s Eve in 1986. At the time, Hall and Beck were suspects in a series of burglaries. Hall was sentenced to four months in jail. That cost society at least $8,000. He was released on his 23rd birthday. Less than three months later, in August 1987, Hall was shot. He was trying to burglarize Advance Appliance, at 14109 E. Sprague, along with his older brother and Beck. The shop had been hit by five burglaries over two years. The crimes cost the store’s owner thousands of dollars in insurance deductibles. The insurance company threatened to cancel the policy after all the payouts, the owner says. He tried to protect the store by hiring private investigator Ken Fadeley, who spent about five nights a week there for more than a year. Fadeley was lying down, behind the washers and dryers, watching Johnny Carson on TV one night when he heard the police scanner spit out reports of a series of break-ins, heading east from Bowdish toward him. Car doors slammed. The glass shattered. Fadeley stood up, revolver in hand. He saw a burglar raising what looked like a shotgun in his hands. It actually was a crowbar. Fadeley shouted, “freeze.” No one did. “I fired my weapon at him,” Fadeley says. He shot five times, hitting Hall twice. People, from victims to law enforcement, say they wish Fadeley had been a better shot. The shop went bankrupt six months later, after all the publicity and losses. The owner, who’s too afraid of Hall to talk publicly about him, says the burglaries indirectly cost $100,000. Hall was sentenced to 18 months. Because of his injury, he needed a colostomy bag for four years. Records indicate Hall had two operations, which cost at least $90,000. Hall says he had about a dozen surgeries, the most recent in June 1992, and the total bill exceeded $1 million. He paid none of it. After serving almost a year, Hall was released from prison in September 1988, when he was 24. About four months later, he and Beck were arrested for breaking into Latus Motors, 7001 E. Trent, a Nordstrom for motorcycle riders. Hall broke a window with an iron bar, right in front of two deputies who were watching the store because of all the burglaries. Hall and Beck tried to steal nine leather jackets worth $2,700. At the time, Hall was a suspect in several other burglaries. Latus Motors had been burglarized about 10 times in the months leading up to Hall’s attempt. Owner George Latus spent some nights in the shop. “It was so bad my glass company was sending me Christmas presents,” Latus says. “Poinsettias. We were on a first-name basis.” Less than two months after he was charged, Hall violated his release by testing positive for marijuana. In April 1989, he was sentenced to 29 months in prison. He served about 17 months. Hall came back to the Valley in September 1990, when he was 26. Two years later, he was arrested in the Pay ‘n Pak on North Foothills at 1:20 a.m. It was his first burglary arrest in the city. Hall, who was unemployed and getting $339 a month from public assistance, told a police officer that he made more money as a burglar than the officer did. He was released on bail. A month later, Hall showed a gun to an informant. Federal agents and sheriff’s deputies decided to try to buy a gun from the convicted felon to put him away for a long time, sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Kehl says. “We tried to get him in the federal system and get rid of him.” Instead, they ended up buying drugs from Hall in his parents’ home, five times over four months. Just before Hall turned 29, he was arrested for dealing drugs. The next month, in June 1993, he was sent back to his parents’ home on electronic monitoring. Hall was ordered to pay for the monitoring and stay away from drugs. Two months later, he tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine. County Corrections workers went to pick him up, and Hall ran. Six days later, he was spotted trying to break into an auto shop. Hall was caught almost three weeks later, hiding in a family member’s apartment, and put in jail. Five months later, while he was being led to court, he escaped when a bailiff unlocked his handcuffs so he could go to the bathroom. Hall ran down the stairs, out the door, past then-police Chief Terry Mangan and into a waiting white Chevy pickup. Two days later, he was caught. In June 1994, Hall pleaded guilty to everything — the drugs, the Pay ‘n Pak burglary, the attempted auto shop burglary, the electronic monitoring violation and the escape. Hall was sentenced to 51 months in prison, just after he turned 30. That cost more than $78,000. He was released in December from Airway Heights Corrections Center. He’s been arrested since, for speeding and obstructing an officer. Hall splits his time between his girlfriend’s place in Latah and his parents’ home in the Valley. He says he lives on $206 a month in public assistance and doesn’t hang around with his old friends anymore. He says he can’t work because he tires easily and still suffers pain from the gunshot wound. He’s under supervision for another six months. Once that’s over, he and his girlfriend want to marry, start a new family, a new life. “As soon as I’m done I’m leaving,” he says. “I’m going someplace else.”