I have a guest blogger today, Jocie DeVries. Jocie is the former executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Resource Institute. She has published numerous articles on the topic of FASD. She is an extraordinary advocate for social justice. I was occasionally amused when I was in state committee meetings to hear of the fear and respect Jocie inspired in the halls of our state capital. Today she is telling the story of an event that occurred earlier this summer.
On July 27 of this year I woke-up to the sight and sound of a strange man leaning in the French door of my bedroom - whispering to my granddaughter, Amanda. She had been sleeping on a pallet on the floor of my bedroom. My husband Don and I have five grandchildren and having them come for a sleepover is a special time for pillow fights, ice cream, sharing secrets, telling stories and deep, relaxed sleep.
But this summer morning some sort of a pervert had opened the screen door from our deck and was whispering to my granddaughter. Watching him invade the privacy of my bedroom was mind numbing and my first reaction was to try and convince myself that this situation was some sort of a bad dream. But as reality set in, I realized this man didn’t just stumble into my bedroom. He went to a lot of trouble to get there. We do not have windows in our bedroom. We have French Doors that open out to an enclosed deck. A deck that I once thought was cozy and perfectly safe. It is built up and off the ground and is completely surrounded by a three foot, sturdy lattice railing on top of the deck.
The point is - the deck has no access from the ground. This man had to jump up on the deck and then crawl over the railing. It was hot that night so we had the French Doors open, but we weren’t afraid because we had a gun up in the closet and our big dog in the bedroom with us. The most surreal thing about the whole scene was that the dog didn’t whine, growl or bark. We were incredulous, at some point had this pervert made friends with the dog?
The intruder had opened the screen door and" was whispering to Amanda, asking about her age (she is 13). Then he said, Oh. You look much younger." He held his hands together, held them up to his cheek to mimic sleep, and asked her if everyone else in the house was still asleep!
About that time my husband woke up, jumped out of bed and started running toward the French Door, yelling. At first the man just mumbled incoherently and then he turned and jumped over the railing. My husband dialed 911. At 70 years old and with leukemia -my husband couldn’t jump over the railing so he ran out of our bedroom toward the front door trying to catch the intruder before he got too far away.
Amanda’s dad, (our son Dennis) had been sleeping in the guest bedroom across the hall, but when he heard the commotion he jumped up and raced out the door to help apprehend the intruder. Thankfully, the 911 operator had two Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputies at our house in a couple of minutes and with Dennis’ help they caught the intruder. The Sheriff’s Deputies arrested him and took him off to jail where he remains until his September trial. The Snohomish County Prosecutor claims he could only charge him with “criminal trespassing and possessing drug paraphernalia”. I learned that the intruder has been convicted of dozens of felonies. The typical sentence for criminal trespassing - if - he is convicted is between 4 months and one year in jail. I am too scared to ask what will happen if prosecutors offered him a plea bargain.
I always wondered how a pervert could enter a house completely undetected and abduct a child. Now I know, all you need is one glitch in your security plan. In our case the glitch was the quiet dog and the gun was out of reach stored in a closet.
An even scarier after-thought is that the night before, our five year old granddaughter was sleeping on the pallet next to Amanda. She is so tiny that this pervert who we have since learned had been convicted of raping a child - twice; could so easily have taken one step into the bedroom, scooped her up, perhaps without even waking her, and we would have never known what happened to her.
Our sense of self-confidence - that we have always been diligent in taking care of our children and grandchildren - has been forever shattered. On the other hand we are filled with joy and thanksgiving to God that this wretched man didn’t have the opportunity to touch any of our grandchildren – this time. Hopefully Amanda will be comforted somewhat by seeing her grandfather and daddy fly into a (controlled) rage to chase that pervert into the waiting arms of the Snohomish County Sheriff. And of course counseling should help.
I get sick to my stomach whenever I think about how dreadful this situation is and feel so stricken that other children are at risk from a Department of Correction System that is sloppy in registering and monitoring sex offenders.
I read recently in a Seattle Times article that a Seattle defense attorney has asked for a review of Washington’s sex offender registration and notification system because he considers those laws “unfair”. Is he insane? Why are sex offenders the ones who get full disclosure and legal protection in this state?
The Snohomish County Prosecutor’s office has been secretive, evasive and condescending toward our inquires. If it's true that this man has such a long, violent history with dozens of felonies then why is he still roaming the streets stalking and grooming my granddaughter while she is asleep in bed?
This seems very strange to me. We need to know the truth and have full disclosure on the risk we are under since this guy apparently has a strong history of stalking and violating protection orders and may only get 4 months in prison – if – he’s convicted.
■ What happened to the 3 Strikes Law?
■ What happened to all those sex offender laws we passed in the 1990’s that were suppose to protect the children of Washington State? Have those laws been revoked?
■ Where’s the accountability in the Washington State Department of Corrections?
■ Hello? Is anybody home over there?
Jocie DeVries - A very frustrated grandmother;