Sunday, September 24, 2006

Portland Round Up

The summer doldrums seem to be over. There are some new developments in old crimes and some interesting new ones have occurred. Let’s see if I can bring you up to date.

The Other Shoe

When I wrote the original story on Susan Kuhnhausen, the emergency room nurse who strangled a burglar in her home, I suspected there was more to the story than we knew. While I was on vacation the other shoe dropped.

Kuhnhausen returned home from work on the evening of September 6 to be confronted by an apparent burglar armed with a hammer. During what she called “the fight of her life” Kuhnhausen was struck with the hammer and bitten in several places. Finally she was able to get ex-convict Edward Dalton Haffey into a choke hold and she hung on until he was dead.

Kuhnhausen told the police she suspected that her husband had been involved in the attack, because he was the only one, besides her, who knew the security system code to the house. There was no sign of forced entry and Michael Kuhnhausen, 58, had left a note on the kitchen table saying he was going to the beach, and proving he had been in the house on the 6th.

Haffey was identified quickly because he was carrying his wallet and it was soon determined that he had been working as a janitor at Fantasy Video, where Michael Kuhnhausen worked as a supervisor of janitors. Haffey also had a backpack with him. Inside the backpack police found Michael Kuhnhausen’s cell phone number and a calendar entry saying “Call Mike, Get Letter” scribbled on the week of Sept 4th.

Security alarm records showed that someone had entered the house twice on the afternoon of September 6. Michael Kuhnhausen admitted that he had entered the house that he owned with his estranged wife, but claimed that he had nothing to do with the plot. Records also showed that Michael had used Susan’s credit card to buy a .357 magnum from a local pawn shop. The couple’s daughter, Angela, told police that her father had left a suicide note at her home on September 7 and disappeared.

Clackamas County deputies took the armed Michael Kuhnhausen into custody on September 13 and he now faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder and domestic-violence related attempted murder.

Wheels Grind Slowly

Anna Svidersky was a high school senior stabbed to death while working at McDonald’s in Vancouver, WA last spring. Her killer, David Sullivan, has a long history of mental illness and this has created a lot of complication in the legal case.

Sullivan has been deemed competent to stand trial for the murder. On Friday, September 22, Sullivan plead not guilty by reason of insanity. The fact that Sullivan is competent to stand trial means that he understands the first degree murder charge against him and that he can assist in his own defense.

Now Sullivan must undergo independent evaluation to determine diminished capacity and insanity. No telling how long this process will take.

Body Parts in the River

A gruesome case has been developing over the last week involving the dismembered body of Douglas Adamson, parts of which have been turning up in the Columbia River. On Sunday, September 17, a couple fishing on Government Island spotted an athletic bag wrapped in duct tape floating in the river. They dragged the bag to shore and the smell made them suspect something dead was inside.

Police recovered the bag later in the day and found the torso of a middle aged man inside. On Wednesday a woman walking her dog by the river in Vancouver discovered an arm and the next day a maintenance worker at a Vancouver park found a leg floating in the river.

Police were able to lift fingerprints from the severed arm and have identified the body as that of Douglas Adamson, 52, a Portland auto mechanic who was reported missing on September 12.

Adamson, who had been off work for several weeks with a knee injury, was last seen by his roommate on September 9. The next day his pick up truck was found abandoned on Interstate 205 near North Killingsworth Avenue. On the 12th he was reported missing.

Adamson has a criminal record going back to the mid 90s with convictions for assault and possession of a controlled substance. In 2001 and again in 2003 a woman had filed domestic violence related restraining orders against Adamson.

So far police are baffled by the crime. Detective Commander Cliff Madison, of the Portland Police who is investigating the crime, said “This is unusual and the motive behind this will definitely be interesting.”

Unusual is right. The last time dismembered body parts were found floating in the river was in 1946. All summer brown-paper parcels containing parts of the body of a middle-aged woman were found floating at various spots on the Willamette. As far as I can tell the police were never able to identify the victim in that case. At least this time they know who the victim is.

I’ll be keeping my eye on this case. Last but not least…

Northwest Contender for the Shortest Time of Freedom

Autrey J. Lewis, 37, of Vancouver is vying for the record for the shortest freedom from prison. Lewis, convicted twice of second-degree robbery in 1987 and 2002, was released from his latest prison term at 10:22am on April 20th. By 8am on April 21st he was back in custody, this time for first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary with sexual motivation and second-degree robbery.

Less than 12 hours after being released from jail, Lewis broke into the home of a 68-year-old Vancouver woman, forced her into her car and drove her to a Hazel Dell area bank were she withdrew $200 using her debit card.

This week Lewis plead guilty to all three charges and under Washington’s “most serious offenses” law was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. We’re probably all better off with him put away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs XLI

Welcome to the Forty-First edition of the Carnival of the True Crime Blogs. I enjoy the carnival every week as a way to know what is interesting in True Crime Blogs. It's an international carnival of love and crime this week and there’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it.

First up is the talented Nene Adams from the Netherlands. Adams is a prolific, and very good, writer who’s blog The Year Round presents interesting stories from 19th century newspapers. This week Nene offers us two interesting Victorian crime stories:

MURDER IN THE NAME OF LOVE is the story of a troubled young woman in 1892 and a ghastly crime, committed in the name of love.

THE VEILED MURDERESS the tale of the enigmatic, and dangerous woman in 1853 who managed to be convicted of two murders, serve 18 years in prison and end her life in an insane asylum without every revealing her true identity.

From Down under, the unnamed Doctor from Melbourne, Australia presents the blog Ironic Fist. The Ironic Fist comments with a cynical voice on the irony that is everywhere around us. This week the Ironic Fist brings us an audio submission:

Ladderman Police Interview is an 8 minute sound file that must be downloaded, but it is certainly worth the trouble. Purportedly a police interview of a man accused of stealing a ladder, it is hilarious. The accused man is nasty and profane (there is heavily accented graphic language) and hilarious. The policemen interviewing him break out laughing at his antics more than once. Have fun.

From the Great White North Harding of T.O. Crime brings us the best crime stories from his beloved city Toronto. This week he brings us a hotel mystery:

A Bloody Mess is the story of a massacre at Toronto’s Delta Chelsea Hotel. At this point the crime is a mystery, but this is the second Toronto hotel murder this summer. As Harding says, “It’s not like there is a serial killer on the loose, stalking foreign visitors…”

Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home. This week our friend “Sweet” of Home Sweet Home brings us a tale with all the “family” values – children, marriage and church.

On the Way to Church is another crime committed in the name of love. Why did he kill his wife? Because he didn’t want to get a divorce.

Our friend Trench of MyCrimeSpace: A Place for Fiends has a great sense of humor. This week he brings us a MySpace related story that is his nominee for the worst newspaper story ever written. It’s got my vote.

Eric Roscoe is charged with Computer Aided Solicitation. Say no more.

And coming in with two minutes to deadline Shadowraiths has two entries this week:

Ingredients for Murder is a compelling analysis of John Mark Karr’s phone conversations and emails with Wendy Hutchens and Michael Tracey. Frightening.

Walking the Talk sticking with the story of John Mark Karr shadowraiths analyses the role of Boulder D.A. Mary Lacy. Lacey is taking a lot of heat for all the money it took to bring Karr back to the U.S. only to clear him as a suspect in the Ramsey case. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks she did the right thing,

Your host at slabtown chronicle offers a Portland story of self-defense that has got quite a bit of national attention:

Any Means Necessary Nursing is a dangerous job, but it shouldn’t still be dangerous when you get home.

Well, that’s it for the official entries. Just because I like to, here are my draftees:

Laura James of my favorite historical crime blog CLEWS takes time off from raging at the media (I agree with her completely) to tell us the tale of another crime committed for love.

An Unwritten Law is the story of a bloody love triangle from the fifties. Just look at the picture of the killer upon hearing the verdict at his trial. A very nicely written tale.

This week I think it is important to remember the anniversary of an important crime. Stephen McCaskill of Crime Scene Blog offers an introspective look at 9/11:

September 11, 2001: The Second Day of Infamy regardless of politics there are some things we can all agree on when we think about this tragedy.

Stephen also brings us a last minute entry (past deadline, Steve tsk tsk) which is so well written I couldn't pass it by: Details Released About Molestation Claim

The enigmatic Imaholagram at Postcards From Hell is writing again and I think that is worth celebrating. Her entry this week is my nominee for most cynical title of the month:

Band Director Busted Blowing Student's Flute It’s an old story, but it just doesn’t go away.

Well that’s it for the Carnival of the True Crime Blogs this week. Hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to submit a story for the next carnival or track down the old carnivals, you can do that here:
The Carnival of the True Crime Blogs


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Any Means Necessary

Lost in historical research and late summer lethargy I have hardly noticed that more than two weeks have passed since I posted to Slabtown, but I was jolted out my reverie this week by the story of Susan Kuhnhausen, 51. She is an emergency room nurse at Providence Hospital. Coming home from work on Wednesday evening, she found a burglar armed with a hammer in her home.

It’s a story we hear about all the time. Someone confronts a burglar in their home and they are killed. The burglar ends up being a wayward teenager, or a hard core loser who ends up on Death Row. Not this time, though. Susan Kuhnhausen defended herself and Edward Dalton Haffey, a hard core loser, was strangled to death.

Haffey had a long record for violent and drug related crime, which included a conviction for conspiracy to commit murder. Everyone in Portland is glad that Susan Kuhnhausen was the one who survived the confrontation.

Kuhnhausen has been an emergency room nurse for more than thirty years, as well as an activist for democracy in the workplace and safety for nurses. She has been very outspoken about the danger of her job. Nurses are twelve times more likely to be assaulted at work than the average person.

“I've been assaulted twice and bit, hit, kicked and punched by patients . . . who know better . . .,” Kuhnhausen wrote for the Emergency Nurses Association Newsletter, “The potential for violence at the hospital always exists and we need to send a message that it's not okay to assault any public servant whether it be a police officer, firefighter or nurse.”

The neighborhood where Kuhnhausen lives, near SE 82nd and Alder, has seen a lot of crime recently. Neighbors have been reporting a wave of car prowls and burglaries for several weeks. In one case a woman with small children in the house used a kitchen knife to chase away an armed intruder. Kuhnhausen’s neighbors say she is a “brave and courageous woman.”

Neighbors Kuhnhausen went to for help after the confrontation said that she was fairly calm. She is used to working in crisis mode and she handles stress well, or she wouldn’t have lasted 30 years in emergency room nursing. She suffered only slight injuries and bruises in the fight.

State law allows a person to use a “reasonable amount of deadly force” to protect themselves in their homes. No charges will be brought against Kuhnhausen in this case. It is unusual, though, because usually in these cases a firearm or a knife is involved. Kuhnhausen strangled the man, who was considerably smaller than she, with her bare hands.

“When you're fighting for your life, you will use whatever means is necessary,” said Portland Officer Cathe Kent, a police spokeswoman. “In this case, the homeowner did what she had to do to get out safely.”

Kuhnhausen is a grandmother and has been helping to raise her grandchild in her home. Thank god the child was not there on Wednesday night. All I can say is, “Go Grandma.”