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Sex offender sentenced to life released on parole

Donald Hooper kidnapped, raped and left a 14-year-old girl for dead in 1982 was sentenced to life in prison, but has now been paroled. Hooper, 55, has been described as a cold blooded and dangerous sex offender. He is a man who attacked his victims at random — teenage girls who are now grown women.

 

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SEATTLE — Just across the street from a family-filled Marysville subdivision is a halfway house full of registered sex offenders.

home1Earlier this month, a two-time child kidnapper, rapist and attempted murderer who was given a life sentence was released from prison early.

Donald Hooper, 55, is a former state ferry worker who kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in 1982. Hooper tied her up, threw her in the trunk of his car, and then boarded a ferry to Kitsap County, where he violently raped her and then threw her off a dock into Puget Sound.

“I didn’t want him to kill me so I just kept trying to pay attention to what was around me so if I made it back I could get him caught,” the victim said.

“When somebody is random and will attack a stranger, how do you safeguard against that?” asked Snohomish County prosecutor Mark Roe.  “How do you feel safe knowing there is somebody like that out there?”

A predator was living with other Level 3 sex offenders in the Marysville halfway house.

Just like Hooper, Glen Thomas also received a life sentence, but was released from prison early.  He raped a 3-year-old boy in the early 1980s.

“It’s very scary, about this guy in particular, because I have boys and they’re young and we do play outside a lot,” Tegen Davis said.

A roommate of both men said he doesn’t think they’re a danger to the community.

“I believe, like anybody else, he (Hooper) deserves a second chance. If he does mess up, hopefully he doesn’t, I don’t want to see another victim. But if he were a drug dealer, you wouldn’t be standing here,” Jim said.

The fight to keep halfway houses like that out of residential neighborhoods has been an ongoing battle. In Chehalis, Sheriff Steven Mansfield received numerous complaints from families about a sex offender boarding house on Nix Road.

“We had one individual in the house no less than two days. A block watch captain caught him along a fence line in camouflage watching the 9-year-old girls play softball in the ball field across the street,” said Mansfield.

Last February, an offender broke into a neighbor’s house and the homeowner shot him.  After that, the church that owned the halfway house decided to shut it down.

In Puyallup, neighbors were so upset about a proposed halfway house they actually helped change state law this year.  The City Council passed an ordinance that only allows halfway houses in commercial or industrial zones.  It sparked Senate Bill 5105,  which passed in May.

The law allows individual cities to control how many sex offenders can live in one home at a time, and where those homes can be located.

“When I think about these halfway houses, where they have a number of sex offenders living together, who would want that near them?  I wouldn’t,” Roe said.

The challenge, Roe said, is finding where to put these guys. A bigger issue, he feels, is who the Department of Corrections is letting out.

Prison officials said Hooper had no violations behind bars for 17 years and completed all his sex offender therapy.

But a 2010 evaluation showed he presented a “moderate risk for violent and sexual recidivism if released into the community” and that the “possibility of very serious psychological and/or physical harm, if not lethality, would be considerable.”

“With all the information I know, and being in law enforcement for several decades, I’m very concerned about this person coming back into our community, and I think he’s putting our citizens at risk,” Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said of Hooper.

The kicker is that the halfway house on 51st Ave. NE in Marysville, where DOC moved Hooper, is within walking distance of his first rape victim. The Department of Corrections says they did have her name but could not find her. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office found her within one day.

“We need to get this guy out of this county so she knows he’s not that close to her.  That’s what we need to do for her, and I think that’s what DOC is going to do,” said Roe.

That is what they did, moving Hooper from Marysville to a work-release facility at 8th and Cherry in downtown Seattle.

It’s no consolation to the woman he nearly killed who is terrified of what Hooper could do next.

“I just know he’ll end up re-offending.  I knew if he got out, I would worry about him coming after me,” said his victim.

Hooper’s Seattle address is only temporary until DOC decides where to move him next.

There are 5,719 registered sex offenders in the state of Washington, and 1,587 of them are Level 3, which is the most likely to re-offend.  Also, 830 are non-compliant, which means they are not checking in with law enforcement and police don’t know where they are living.

Click here to register for email alerts when a registered sex offender moves near your home.

SEATTLE — It is a crime as cold and calculated as they come and one that stunned the communities of West Seattle and Kitsap County, and has haunted the victim for more than 30 years.

hooper“The randomness and frightening horror of that type of an attack, it makes everyone want to run and lock their doors,” Snohomish County prosecutor Mark Roe said.

It was 1982, just five days before Christmas. School had just gotten out and a 14-year-old girl was waiting to take the city bus to the orthodontist. State ferry worker Donald Hooper had just finished his shift.

“He had parked past me a quarter of a block and walked behind me so I wasn’t paying any attention,” Hooper’s victim said by phone recently for this report. “Then he grabbed my arm and showed me his gun under his jacket and said, ‘Get in the car or I’m going to kill you.’”

Hooper shoved her in the front seat, and once he got to a more secluded area, pulled over, gagged her and then used plastic zip ties to bind her wrists together before shoving her into the trunk.

Hooper then traveled north on Highway 99 to Edmonds, boarded the ferry to Kingston and drove to a dirt road, where he violently raped her.

Hooper wasn’t done yet.  As if all of that wasn’t terrifying enough, he then drove her to nearby Indianola and walked her down the end of a wooden pier.

“I remember it being a really long walk down there,” the victim said. “I kept telling him I couldn’t swim and not to throw me in. You could see the gun on him.  I didn’t want to get shot and thrown in the water.”

He didn’t shoot her, but pushed her into the water.

The victim was, in fact, a strong swimmer, and even though her arms were still bound together, she was able to make it out of the water and get to a nearby home for help.

“The presence of mind and courage of a kid like that, it gave me chills when I was told about it,” Roe said.

Police caught Hooper that night and he was sentenced to life in prison.  Earlier this year, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo found out the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board was going to let Hooper out on parole into his community.

“We have lots of sex offenders released into our community, in fact more than 400 of them now.  However, his record and the fact he was being released was quite shocking,” said Elfo.

The sheriff immediately took a look at Hooper’s prison file.  A 2010 evaluation showed Hooper was still considered a violent risk to the community and that the “possibility of very serious psychological and/or physical harm, if not lethality, would be considerable.”

“That really alarmed me, and he should not be released anywhere in the state of Washington,” Elfo said.

Elfo sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee and to DOC Secretary Bernie Warner.  They decided not to allow Hooper to move to Whatcom County.

Less than two weeks ago, however, he was released instead to Snohomish County.

“My immediate thought was, he committed a crime here. Where’s that victim?” Roe said.

In November 1982, Hooper raped another teenage girl, a case that was eventually overturned on appeal but a crime he admitted to in prison.

The Marysville halfway house where Hooper was first moved is within walking distance of that victim.

“When she was told that this guy had been dropped on her doorstep, you can imagine what a setback that was for her,” Roe said. “She started crying.  Her attitude at that point was that she was going to feel like a prisoner in her own house and she had the detective escort her to her own mailbox to get the mail and can you blame her?”

At the Marysville halfway house, Jim, another registered sex offender who lives there, said Hooper wasn’t there that day, but members of the Snohomish County Violent Offender Task Force came by, and confirmed he was hiding in a garage behind the home.

“I know he did something pretty bad many years ago,” said Jim.  “He’s done his time and I believe he’s learned his lesson and I don’t believe he is a threat to the community at this point.”

Parents who live in a nearby subdivision aren’t convinced.

“To me, it just seems wrong we’re going to allow someone who’s deemed a high risk by the authorities to be back out in the neighborhoods, who’s likely to re-offend.  It just seems like we’re asking for it, almost,” said mother Jessica Kohler.

Roe questions why the DOC made this decision in the first place.

“In my opinion, sometimes even though his life sentence is from way back then, it ought to be a life sentence. There is a certain subset of people that I wouldn’t let out,” Roe said.

The woman terrorized and nearly killed by Hooper so many years ago is convinced he could strike again.

“I just know he’ll end up re-offending. I think he should be back in jail where he belongs before he hurts someone else,” the victim said.

As the Department of Corrections learned we were investigating this story, Roe alerted them about Hooper’s victim living so close to that halfway house.  Roe, the Snohomish County sheriff and DOC officials met on Friday, July 26, and three days later decided to move Hooper to Seattle.

He is in a work-release facility near 8th and Cherry and is on GPS monitoring, but it is only a temporary situation until DOC can figure out where to move him next.

That brings up a bigger question of where to house sex offenders once they are released from prison.  It has been a contentious issue in the state and one we delve into Thursday night on Q13 FOX News at 10 p.m.

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