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Sex offender linked by DNA to 1980 Bellevue murder gets 14 1/2 years to life in prison

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Michael Allan Halgren, 58, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder June 26 in the strangulation of a 19-year-old woman in Bellevue in 1980. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — Michael Allan Halgren, 58, who has been in the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center as a civilly committed sexually violent predator for more than a decade,  was sentenced Friday to 14 1/2 years to life in prison for the raping and killing 19-year-old Susan Barbara Lowe in her Bellevue apartment in April 1980.

He had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 26.

Halgren was identified as the rapist/killer via a DNA hit, police said. Halgren’s DNA profile was obtained as part of an updating process in 2012 that included a number of sexually violent predators at McNeil Island.

Halgren was civilly committed because of a criminal history that included a 1989 kidnapping/rape of a female in Bellevue and other sexual-related crimes in Seattle, police said.

With the DNA hit and lead, Bellevue police detectives renewed their investigative efforts on the cold case. In cooperation with the King County Prosecutor’s Cold Case Unit, a charge of first-degree murder was filed in January 2013. Detectives went to McNeil Island, where an arrest was made. Halgren was subsequently transferred to King County Jail on a no-bail bond.

“It’s always rewarding to solve any case, but especially a cold case. To assist in some way the long-awaited closure for family members of their loved one, is gratifying for not only the family members but for all us at the Department,” said Bellevue police Lt. Jim Hershey.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday that although a crime from 1980 falls under the state’s prior indeterminate sentencing system, the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board has the option of keeping Halgren incarcerated up to life. If the defendant is ever granted parole, he would be returned to the Special Commitment Center, the office said.



Susan Barbara Lowe, 19, was raped and killed in her Bellevue apartment in 1980.

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    • Greg Pankau

      Susan was my friend, and next door neighbor, and her murder haunted me for 3 decades. Could hardly believe it when a guy I have known from school since I was young, did the deed. Susan was 19, and just starting out in life. Less than a year into her independent life as an adult, first apartment, first roommate, first job, etc. Everything was new and full of fun, hope and adventure! Her life was full of work, bowling, friends, etc.and trying new things. We used to knock on doors, and yell or throw a tennis ball off the slider, at 2nd floor neighbors like her and her roommate, Diane, to get their attention to get up a volleyball game, etc.; Susan was usually one of the first ones I notified, and she often came to play. She was at a party at my house, just 2 weeks before she died. Her future was full of promise, that was cut short far too early. I am saddended for her loss, every time I think of her. Thankfully, this case was disposed of without trial, so her family and roommate did not have to relive all the gory details, all these years later. Because of his prior crimes and incarceration status, which has been upheld by the Washington Supreme Court, he will be locked up until he dies. Only which cell he is locked up in, will change. Hopefully now, Diane and her family will be able to have some measure of closure. And Susan can now, finally, after 34 years, Rest in Peace.