Infamous Golden Gardens attacker has died in prison

Jul 18, 2018, 3:57 PM
Bathroom at Golden Gate Park in Seattle. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

Kelly Herron, the woman who survived and fought off an attacker in the bathrooms at Golden Gardens last year, believes that she and the other women of Seattle can sleep a little more soundly at night — her attacker, Gary Steiner, has died in prison.

In March 2017, Herron was training for a marathon with a run at the Ballard beachfront park last year when she stopped to use the park’s restroom. While in the restroom, Steiner assaulted Herron, attempting to rape her. Herron, however, fought him off tooth-and-nail in what she described to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson as an “all-out brawl on a concrete floor ending with me locking him in the bathroom.”

Steiner, who was homeless at the time of the crime and had moved to Seattle from Arizona, was sentenced this spring to three years in jail. Herron explained, however, that his sentence was such that a parole board would determine every three years if he should remain in jail or be released.

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Herron said she had planned to keep coming back every three years and testifying to keep Steiner behind bars. Steiner was a repeat offender, and had himself testified at his sentencing, according to Herron, that he was unable to control himself.

“I think that if there was an opportunity where he was alone with a woman at any point in prison or after, I believe that he would continue [committing rape],” she said. “He’s sick.”

This week, Herron received an email from the Washington State Department of Corrections stating that Steiner had died in prison last Friday.

When Dori asked how Steiner had died, Herron quipped, “I think karma got him, Dori.”

In all seriousness, Herron said, she does not know how Steiner died. What she does know, however, is that Seattle women can feel a little safer when they’re out and about.

“For all women, this is someone that we don’t have to worry about … It is what I truly believe is the only way that this could truly end,” she said.

Herron had expected Steiner’s death to come for some time, since — given his own courtroom admittance of his lack of self-control — she did not believe he was capable of reforming himself. Having suffered PTSD ever since the attack, she said that this latest piece of news has at long last brought her closure.

“I thought I would feel guilty or something, but I actually feel a huge sense of relief,” she said. “Because as long as he was breathing air on this planet, I knew I was going to have to go back and keep fighting indefinitely. So I feel a huge sense of closure.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Infamous Golden Gardens attacker has died in prison