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

Cold-blooded killer is where she belongs

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Run for your lives. JoAnn Peterson – aka “Shotgun Granny” – is trying to get out of the slammer.

This is the murderous old spider woman who on a November night in 1991 hid in the shadows outside her son-in-law’s Spokane Valley apartment.

When Peter Zeihen drove his Audi into his carport, Peterson stepped forward with a 12-gauge and casually blew the man’s face off.

I guess Peterson figured she had to get up close and personal. An earlier attempt to gun down the 40-year-old electrical contractor failed with six missed pistol shots.

Peter Zeihen’s execution was as calculated and as ruthless as any Mafia hit.

Peterson wore masks. She dressed like a man.

The poor guy didn’t have a prayer. Not even the body armor he started wearing after the first assassination attempt could protect him.

Finally ratted out by family members, Peterson pleaded guilty to premeditated murder.

In January 2001, the Moyie Springs, Idaho, woman was sentenced to 25 years.

But Shotgun Granny now believes the few years she’s served is plenty. Peterson recently filed a petition asking Washington Gov. Gary Locke to make granting her clemency one of his outgoing gubernatorial acts.

Cue the laugh track.

On Oct. 29, the Board of Clemency and Pardons will meet in Olympia to review Peterson’s request.

If they’re not all drunk or high on drugs, the board members should give it the respect any toilet paper deserves.

But why take a chance?

Concerned citizens can let the board know we’re watching them by writing:

Board of Clemency and Pardons

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Or reach them via e-mail through the governor’s Web page (

Of course, if Gov. Locke wants to do us a lasting favor concerning Peterson he can, 1) drive to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 2) place the keys to Peterson’s cell inside a bag of rocks and 3) toss the bundle over the side.

This stone-cold killer should never – ever – breathe free air again.

Same goes for her ex-hubby, Morris “Mel” Goldberg. He drove the stolen getaway car the night of the murder and helped with the planning.

“I would do the same thing to protect my granddaughter,” Goldberg vowed in court on November 2000, moments before a judge handed down his life sentence.

These people try to justify their crimes by accusing Zeihen of sexually abusing his child. It’s the essence of the sob story Peterson tells in her clemency petition.

Fact: Zeihen was embroiled in a custody dispute with his estranged wife over their 2-year-old daughter. Fact: He was murdered a few days before he was to appear in a court custody hearing.

Fact: No investigator has ever found a shred of evidence to support this molestation malarkey.

“It just seems offensive to keep repeating that,” offers Kevin Korsmo, a Spokane County prosecutor familiar with the case.

It is especially cruel to Zeihen’s parents, Frank and Jewel Zeihen. The Chewelah couple has been living this nightmare for nearly 13 years.

“Why do we have to put up with this garbage?” wonders Jewel.

The Zeihens never gave up their quest to bring their son’s killers to justice. But hope dimmed as the years passed.

Investigators long suspected that Peterson and Goldberg were somehow involved. But Shotgun Granny has a reputation for intimidating anyone who gets in her way. Nobody was talking.

“She’s a scary dude, isn’t she?” adds Korsmo.

The case broke when Theil Goldberg confessed to providing the murder weapon. He told detectives what his parents had done. Theil served four years for his role.

It’s only right that the Board of Clemency and Pardons will examine Peterson’s request a few days before Halloween. As Jewel Zeihen aptly noted at the sentencing, “JoAnn is an ugly, evil witch.”