Accused Ballard rapist recently disappeared from nearby Nickelsville homeless camp

SEATTLE – The man accused of raping a woman in the bathroom of a Ballard car dealership Monday had been reported missing from a nearby homeless camp that same day after disappearing the week before.

Scott Morrow, the longtime organizer of the Nickelsville camp, issued a release Thursday saying Chris Teel had been “decompensating” recently, and that other residents of the camp had grown worried about him. At a camp meeting hours after the rape, but before news of Teel's alleged involvement had broken, residents agreed to check hospitals and jails to try to find him.

Morrow also explained part of the process Teel went through when he entered Nickelsville. Teel was required to produce a valid government ID, which was cross-referenced against a list of people on the King County transient sex offender list, which he wasn’t on.

Morrow also said Nickelsville doesn’t conduct warrant checks, and the camp wasn’t aware of Teel’s criminal history.

“Criminal history information is not legally required or commonly expected for residency or movement, transient or otherwise, within Washington state,” the release reads.

Morrow said the city and the low-income housing institute were told of Teel’s Nickelsville connection Tuesday, and that staff called the police Wednesday to offer to cooperate with the investigation.

“We are shocked to learn of a violent act like this, by someone who had recently left Nickelsville,” the statement reads. “In Nickelsville's 9 plus years of operations, there has never before been a confirmed criminal act of such terrible significance by either someone living in Nickelsville, or who had recently left.  Can it be said with any confidence that other communities of over one hundred people - whether another encampment, apartment house, single family block or indoor shelter - have significantly better records?”

Photos of Teel at Nickelsville appeared in the Seattle Times last November with a story about the camp.

Christopher Teel was charged Wednesday with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, two days after he is accused of attacking a woman in the temporary restroom of a Ballard car dealership. Photographs of Teel appeared in The Seattle Times in November, accompanying a story about the Ballard Nickelsville homeless camp. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)