One detective who investigated the 1980 SeaTac tavern triple murder and armed robbery case compares the man convicted with serial killer/rapist Ted Bundy and Green River killer Gary Ridgeway.
But now – after 42 years behind bars and despite repeated pleas from victims’ families to keep him locked up – convicted killer Timothy Pauley, 63, has been approved for summer release by the Washington state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board.
It’s a parole board decision that can only be overruled by Gov. Jay Inslee, one of the victim’s daughters told The Dori Monson Show on Monday.
“We were completely devastated,” Kelley Tarp told Dori and his listeners about learning her dad’s killer could soon be let out of prison. She said the family was recently notified by email about Pauley’s impending release from the state’s Monroe Correctional Complex.
Tarp was 13 when her father, Loran Dowell, and his coworker, Bob Pierre, were tied up in the walk-in cooler of SeaTac’s Barn Door Tavern in June 1980. While robbing the tavern of $1,500, Pauley and his accomplice, Scott C. Smith, also forced Tarp’s mother, Margaret, and tavern cook Sherri Beckham to strip naked. The women were then tortured, tied with electrical cord in the restroom, and left to hang.
Tarp’s mother and Beckham managed to survive after regaining consciousness by loosening the cords around their necks. When they emerged from the restroom, King County Sheriff’s detectives wrote in their investigation, the surviving women found a third woman – Pierre’s girlfriend, Linda Burford – dead from hanging. In the cooler, they discovered Dowell and Pierre dead.
“Pauley could have walked out of the tavern that night, but he didn’t,” Tarp wept as she described the event to Dori. Instead, “he opened up the cooler door and executed my father, point blank.”
The brutality of the case remains vivid for the King County Sheriff’s detectives who investigated the case, Dori told listeners.
How clearly do you remember the details? Dori asked retired Washington state congressman and former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert – a detective assigned to the case more than four decades ago.
“Very clearly,” Reichert told Dori. “As your listeners and you know, I’ve been to a number of crime scenes – including all the Green River cases,” Reichert told Dori. “This was one of the most grisly, horrendous scenes that I have seen in my career.”
How, Dori wondered, could Pauley possibly be worthy of walking free?
“In my mind, there is no way he should be walking free,” Reichert said.
“I interviewed [1970s serial rapist and killer] Ted Bundy. I interviewed [1980s and ‘90s South King County’s serial Green River killer] Gary Ridgeway,” Reichert told Dori. “He [Pauley] has the same attitude toward life, toward someone else’s life. All three were cowards.”
None of the three “ever expressed remorse” and none ever “offered a sincere apology,” Reichert said.
Instead, the former detective, Pauley’s approved release “wasn’t about the horrendous crime. It was really about how Pauley has proven himself to be a model prisoner.”
In the last few of his 42 years behind bars, Reichert told Dori, Pauley has completed an alcohol treatment program and took a drug rehabilitation course.
The former sheriff also described to Dori’s listeners how Pauley claims to have become “a Christian and apparently found God. But not once during that interview (with the parole board) did Pauley even mention the (victim’s) family. Not once did he ever apologize.
“Regret is a lot different than ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I apologize,’ ” Reichert said.
“Here’s the part that really gets me,” Dori told Reichert and listeners. “I was told many times, that when we got rid of the death penalty – we were told that we would have life in prison without the possibility of parole.”
“So even though we don’t have the death penalty in the state of Washington, it meant that the worst of the worst are going to stay behind bars,” Dori continued. “But if a triple murderer doesn’t qualify for that, then how are they going to keep anybody locked up?”
While there is no timetable for Gov. Inslee to overrule the parole board decision – or do nothing and let Pauley walk free – Inslee’s deputy communications director Mike Faulk wrote Dori about the case:
“The governor previously met with the victims and their survivors on this matter and shared his thoughts with them directly. He has also spoken with Congressman Reichert on this topic.
“It’s a very painful case to revisit, and the impact on the family is clear and palpable. The governor expects to make a decision in the near future on this matter.”
With her family fearing for their safety if Pauley is released, Tarp asked Dori’s listeners to advocate to Inslee to overturn the parole board’s release decision. She recommended writing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Inslee’s executive assistant at email@example.com.
Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.