Skip to comments.Man charged with killing sex offenders hailed as hero on the Web
Posted on 09/09/2005 10:33:48 AM PDT by Clint Williams
Notes of congratulation to Michael Mullen popped up on Web logs as soon as news accounts reported that he had turned himself in, claiming to be the vigilante killer of two convicted child rapists shot in Bellingham.
Mullen, 35, was charged Thursday in Whatcom County Superior Court with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, the county prosecutor's office said. Aggravated murder in Washington is punishable by either death or life in prison without parole. Deputy Prosecutor Mac Setter said the prosecutor's office would decide by Mullen's Sept. 16 arraignment date whether it would seek the death penalty.
Comments on the Web included a call for leniency for Mullen, who tried unsuccessfully to plead guilty during his initial court hearing on Tuesday. But most Web log entries were more dramatic, ranging from "give him a medal and key to the city" to "kill all Level III offenders and save us some headaches."
Mullen has been held on $1 million bail in the Whatcom County Jail since turning himself in to police on Monday and saying he was responsible for the Aug. 26 deaths of Victor Vazquez, 68, and Hank Eisses, 49, each shot once in the head.
In court documents, prosecutors said Mullen posed as an off-duty FBI agent when he arrived at the home of Vazquez and Eisses — an address he found online through the Whatcom County sex offender notification system — and sat on their front lawn, drinking beer with them and discussing their criminal background. He told the men he was there to warn them there was a 'hit list' out for Level III sex offenders, the type considered most likely to re-offend.
Mullen told police he had been a victim of sexual abuse himself, although he hadn't reported it at the time to his family or authorities, Setter said in court papers.
Mullen offered police a variety of motives for the killings: protecting his children, his own child abuse, a desire to give his life value by protecting the community and a recent Idaho case that focused attention on sex offenders, the documents said.
In the Idaho case, Joseph Edward Duncan III, a convicted sex offender, is charged with three counts of murder in the May beating deaths of three people at a home outside Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, allegedly so he could abduct two children for sex.
Duncan was arrested July 2 with one of the children, 8-year-old Shasta Groene. Remains of her 9-year-old brother, Dylan, were found in a Montana forest two days later.
Vazquez was convicted in 1991 of molesting several relatives, according to court documents. He was released from prison about two years ago and remained under state supervision.
Eisses, sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison in 1997 for raping a 13-year-old boy, was released from supervision about two years ago.
About a week before Mullen called 911 to turn himself in, a man named Mullen took responsibility for the killings in his own Web journal on AOL. The journal entry has been deleted, but a copy of the statement was posted on a Web log called "The Dark Side."
Bellingham police Lt. Craige Ambrose said he believes the person who posted the Web confession is the same person held in the Whatcom County Jail and the same man who confessed via two letters sent to various news media. "I have no reason to doubt that they were sent by Mr. Mullen," he said of the letters and the Web posting.
"In some ways, he's not bashful about wanting to be heard," Ambrose said.
Cynthia Hearn, a paralegal from Bucks County, Penn., said in her post on a blog called "Riehl World View" that she could understand some of what Mullen was thinking because the laws to protect children from pedophiles are inadequate.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Hearn said she was a little surprised by the vehemence of the comments online in support of Mullen.
"They all think that violence is the way to handle these guys. That's not the answer," Hearn said, adding her own daughter had been violently attacked and her first reaction was "I wanted to go out and kill someone." But it was only an initial reaction, she said, and she expects most of the bloggers who saluted Mullen would not be so bold with a gun in their hands.
"Everybody can be a big person in front of the computer," she said.
Public empathy with someone who says he is a killer of child abusers does not surprise child psychiatrist and prominent researcher Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, who practices in New York and Greenwich, Conn.
"People have far more sympathy for a parent who murdered a child than for one who molested a child," said Rosenfeld, who researched child sex abuse while at Harvard University in the 1970s.
Punishing the perpetrators outside of the criminal justice system mirrors this revulsion toward child abusers, said Steve Herbert, a professor of law, society and justice at the University of Washington.
"We're at a particular political and cultural moment where people accused of crimes, particularly morally tainted crimes, are pretty roundly condemned," Herbert said. "That makes it a little easier to make the step toward cheering violence against them."
He said America has become a punitive society, particularly in the past 25 years.
"There doesn't seem to be much political room for redemption anymore, and I think that's sad," he said.
I do not have a lot of sympathy for her position.
Some people need killin. What better candidate than people who harm children?
Hopefully he'll get a deal similar to Sandy Bergers, a fine and probation. Good shooting!
And not coincidentally, crime has dropped during that same period...
If there was more actual JUSTIcE in this country, there'd be less punitive action taken. But there's little justice to be had around here really.
If you're a Democrat or a Democrat protected class, you can get away with literally, murder.
Sounds like he did his homework, even went so far as to go talk to these guys, no doubt making sure he had the right ones.
I have no problem with what he did, and I think that prosecutor will be lucky to get a manslaughter conviction.
I say turn the guy loose, give him an updated list of convicted sex offenders (two names crossed out), and a new pistol.
I don't think he's a "hero", but I can understand his motivation. That said, he did murder 2 people, no matter how deserving. He has to go to prison.
Failure to note definition: Level III sex offender, most likely to do it again, not considered "redeemed."
It would have been interesting if he had pled 'not guilty' and gone to trial.
I would vote to convict in a heartbeat, but I'm not so sure it would be all that easy to find a jury of twelve that would reach a 'guilty' verdict.
Seems to me that a travesty of justice has been righted in that particular case.
I think the most likely result will be removal of public access to any sex offenders listing. This is similar to posting an abortion doctor's home address.
"I think that prosecutor will be lucky to get a manslaughter conviction."
If this were a just society he would get the death penalty. Murder is murder no matter how dispicable the victims were.
Anyone can kill me now, whether it's some guy like this or just your average bad guy. And that would definitely suck.
He didn't just decide these monsters were child molesters. They were convicted sex offenders, not just men who had been accused.
I am a bit biased, I suppose. I think all convicted sex offenders should be hung. No second chance.
In my county, he'd be given the Keys to the County Seat, and a parade.
Sorry, but individual action is justified when the government fails to do it's job. Throughout history, the average citizen has had to band together with his/her neighbors to to the distasteful duties in which the goobermint fails.
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