One Night In South Park

South Park isn’t the nicest neighborhood in Seattle. It’s a little sliver of land between an elevated highway and the toxic Duwamish River. The air is polluted from a garbage transfer station and heavy metals have contaminated the soil. 
The marina on the river looks more like a boat grave yard. Almost nobody takes care of their house or yard and I don’t think the streets have ever seen a sweeper. The crime down there isn’t as bad as other parts of the city but poverty is definitely a problem. The number of school kids in South Park receiving free lunches is the highest in the city. The only reason I can see anyone who isn’t poor choosing to live there, is that it’s one of the few places in Seattle where you can buy a house for less than $300,000. (And maybe the fact that it has some of the best and cheapest Mexican food in the city.) In the summer of 2009 I, along with the rest of Seattle, would learn that what South Park citizens lack financially, they make up for in camaraderie. At around 3 am on the morning of July 19th, Teresa Butz and her partner, Jennifer Hopper were asleep in their house at 727 S. Rose St.
727 S. Rose Street
They were awakened by a naked black man standing over their bed. He had climbed through an open bathroom window. I’ll spare you the horrific details of what he did to them and made them do. Let’s just say they experienced every woman’s biggest fear. An absolute nightmare. They were both raped for almost two hours, and stabbed repeatedly. But they did fight back. The women kicked and hit the intruder and Teresa hit him over the back with a nightstand. She managed to break through the bedroom window with the table, crawl out and run naked, screaming and bleeding into the street. (How they fought back when they each had over a dozen stab wounds and their throats were slit exemplifies the will to survive.)
Street in front of house
The attacker left through the same window he entered. Jennifer ran out the front door. She was screaming and crying about what had happened to them. Teresa had collapsed in the street, covered in blood. A 14 year-old neighbor was the first person to come outside to help. She tried to stop Teresa’s bleeding with the clothes off her back. It was too late. The stunned neighbors watched Teresa die as she begged them to tell her mother she loved her. The ambulance arrived five minutes later. Jennifer survived the attack and gave a description to the police. A tall, thin, fit, black man in his twenties with a mustache. A lot of people in the neighborhood fit the description. Business almost came to a halt at night, as people were scared to leave their homes. It had been a really hot summer but everyone was now shutting and locking their windows. I know people in the neighborhood and I was there the evening after this happened. I felt like I was driving through a riot. People were patrolling the streets with baseball bats and knives. Night watches were formed and men sat on their porches with guns. If the culprit was dumb enough to go back to the neighborhood, he wasn’t getting out alive. I live in a pretty nice neighborhood and there had recently been a home-invasion murder and nothing like this took place. People just made sure their home alarms were set and their Mercedes’ were locked. I have a new found respect for “South Parker's.” On Friday, July 24th, police released a surveillance video of a black man with a pit-bull trying to break into the City Hall building in Auburn, a suburb in the valley south of Seattle. (I’m still not sure how the police knew this was the South Park suspect.)
Surveillance Video
His face was plastered all over Puget Sound. It was put in taxi cabs and buses and within a few hours, a bus driver spotted the suspect and his dog at Magnuson Park on Lake Washington, several miles north of South Park. Police were called and they arrested Isaiah Kalebu. His fingerprints and DNA matched evidence gathered at Teresa and Jennifer’s house, and he had blood on his jacket.
Magnuson Park
Cops in two other jurisdictions phoned Seattle Police to tell them exactly who they had arrested. He was an unstable 23-year-old, who in March of 2008 threatened to kill his own mother after she demanded he take his bipolar medication. He’d flashed a knife at her to make his point, breaking the windows of her van with a rock, and stating calmly: "Enjoy your last day on earth." Then, after a four month stay at Western State Hospital, Kalebu was released into the care of his aunt in University Place, a suburb of Tacoma by the University of Puget Sound. (It’s a lovely area.) Things didn’t work out at his aunt’s and she even filed a restraining order against him for threats that he made after she asked him to move out. On July 9, 2009, her house at 5508 64th Ave. W. was set on fire and she was killed along with her roommate, J.J. Jones. He was a former backup QB for Joe Namath. Isaiah had been questioned and released but remained a “person of interest” in the fire.
Aunt's house in University Place
He would attack Teresa and Jennifer only six days later. Following a three-week trial, Isaiah was convicted of aggravated first-degree murder, felony murder, attempted murder, rape, and burglary. Jennifer, who had testified at the trial, spoke to Isaiah during the sentencing. She said, “I’m so sorry for whatever it is in your life that brought you to this. You took so much from me, but I am not broken. I wish you no harm and I never wanted to put you to death.” As the judge sentenced him, Isaiah disrupted him with a profanity-laced rant about gay marriage and polygamy. It was another in a series of outbursts by Isaiah during the court proceedings. He admitted during his trial that he raped and stabbed the women in their home, saying God told him to do it. He received life in prison without the possibility of parole. I hope Jennifer is able to live with this and move on with her life. I’m not sure I could. RIP Teresa and J.J.