Violent rapist sentenced to life is released, living in Seattle

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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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  • sutin2say

    Oh goodie, the Washington state justice system, (a system that blows sunshine up our as$e$) is hard at work protecting its citizens.

  • bill k

    More prrof that they WANT these sicc bastards out on the streets destroying lives.THERE IS NO REASON A RAPUST SENTANCED TO L I F E SHOULD BE OUT ON THE STREETS.

    • BobDamahn

      Life does not mean life, if you are upset by the term then maybe you should get with your congressman and have them change the wording. Currently no life sentence in any state means actual lie in prison.

    • Guest

      Yep the union and ACLU will team up to make that happen in fact the ACLU will probably try and find him a job working unsupervised with teenage girls….

  • quackula

    Gov. Jay Inslee and to DOC Secretary Bernie Warner could care less about innocent people and care more about the welfare of sex offenders.

  • Klaus

    There is a reason we have the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island. If the DOC believes he has done his time, but is still a threat to the community at large (as was determined in 2010 apparently), sex offenders need to be isolated in a place where they may be an actual chance at their being rehabilitated. NOT on 8th and Cherry in Seattle; amidst thousands of college students, nurses, and other civilians.
    This is despicable.

  • shawn

    So now we get him in our hood with nurses walking to and from work this is not right life should just mean that life !!!!!!!!

  • DJ Lil Shonn

    If the right actions aren't taken by the state. I believe this could end up really bad. If he is psychologically disturbed and is a high risk of doing something again. He should be moved far away, not just for our womens safety but for his own as well. Because if he were to do something. I can guarantee you the "people" will NOT let him get away with it. Just my 2 cents.

  • anonymous

    As someone said above, there is the Special Commitment Center on McNeil. I don’t work for DOC, but I work alongside them, and it really is hard to get the Board to approve a release. In no way do I support sex offenders walking around free, but I have to hope they have done their job. They found him unreleaseable in 2010, but apparently in 2013 he has done something to convince that team he won’t reoffend. I want to trust the system, but it’s so flawed.

  • Anonymous

    When this predator commits his next violent crime against women we should prosecute the members of the parole board that freed this predator.

    • Fan 873

      Sadly, what will happen is:

      He will re-offend.
      He will be caught (and hopefully gone for life or killed)
      The State (DOC/Parole board) will be sued for releasing someone deemed likely to re-offend.
      No one from any state entity will be fired or reprimanded.
      The taxpayers will end up footing the bill. (I don't blame the victims getting money)
      Nothing will change.

  • Neil Hopkins

    "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.'"

    • Neil Hopkins

      Why the truck was this POS released back into the community. You get a life sentence for raping and attempting to murder a 14 yo girl you should be in prison FOR LIFE! I don't give 2 shiites how bad he feels 30 years later, he can never undo the damage he did and should pay for it until the day he dies.

    • Jamie

      No kidding.. this is an outrage. non-violent offenders get more time than this! He has raped AT LEAST twice AND tried to murder one of his victims! It's been proven time and time again that violent, repeat sexual offenders can not be rehabilitated. This man should not be free. I can not imagine how the victims feel.

  • Anonymous

    As horrible as I feel for his past victims, why does it matter whether he lives in Whatcom County or Snohomish County? Anywhere outside prison walls is a place for him to find a new victim and reoffend. Life in prison should be just that!

  • guest

    I'm wondering what the actual conviction was?? The article says he was sentenced to life but on what specific charges? There should have been multiple charges, including kidnapping and attempted murder along with rape (at least two counts), and rape of a child.

  • guest

    he will make damn sure there is NO live witness to tell the tale of the next time this animal re-offends!!
    has anyone given THAT a thought??????


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  • Libtards

    I like how people are so outraged by this but we keep voting democrat in this stupid state because it's the cool thing to do. Vote democrat because it's cool. This is what you get.

  • BobSamahn

    He is a sick you know what, but he didn't get death penalty and been 30+ years so as offensive as this is to some he has paid for his crime and they need to move on.

  • EricT

    I personally know this man. I know he has done much to address the issues that led to his offending and has a great amount of remorse for the harm he has caused others. His only desire is to work and give back to the community. He has spent many years focusing on learning communication skills and empathizing with the feelings and needs of those with whom he interacts. He has also learned to reach out for emotional support, as he does with me, when life creates emotional struggles. He has learned to deal with those struggles in positive and healing ways, so as to keep his life moving in positive and supportive ways.

    If the community is frightened of him, he understands. He knows he has a 'bad' history from his young adult life, which causes concern for others. I know he will not try to convince you with words that he is "rehabilitated." Rather, he only asks that you give him a peaceful chance, however intrepid you might feel, to live a life of peace and healing, so that he can prove through action, that he has grown into a healthy and caring person, who wants to live a life without causing harm to another.

    Best wishes to you all and I hope you are willing to both keep an eye on him and support his efforts to be a productive part of our society again. Wouldn't that be 'better' than paying tens of thousands of tax dollars per year to continue to keep him locked away?

    Isn't that the real intent of our justice system?

  • truth

    People who rape and ruin other peoples lives should be removed from existence as painlessly as possible. If you can't respect someone else's life why should anyone respect yours?

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