Beach Drive murder aftermath: SPD, Parks answer safety concerns

March 19, 2012 at 5:09 pm | In Beach Drive murder, Crime, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 44 Comments

(Sunday night photo by Karen Sykes)
Seattle Parks has just shared the response it is sending to people who have voiced concerns about safety along Beach Drive, in the aftermath of the so-far-unsolved murder of Greggette Guy, found dead offshore in the 3800 block one week ago today, remembered at a waterfront vigil and walk last night (WSB coverage here).

Thank you for getting in touch regarding the recent unsolved murder in West Seattle, and expressing your concerns about the safety of a stretch of Beach Dr. SW in the area where the young woman was found.

Following … is the text of a timely and thorough response to Sandi Repetowski from Capt. Steven Paulsen of the Seattle Police Department’s (Southwest) Precinct. In it he:

· Describes the low crime statistics for the area

· Recommends walking with a buddy and not alone

· Reports on his visit to the Alki Community Council meeting on Thursday, March 15

· Describes SPD’s plans to respond to the event with more patrols and its summer emphasis plan that they carry out from the third weekend in April through September

· Offers to have the SW Precinct Crime Prevention Coordinator, Mark Solomon, conduct an assessment using Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles.

[editor's note - the following is the SPD letter]

Thank you for taking the time to write in regard to your concern of lighting and general public safety in the area of Beach Drive SW. I am unable to provide any information in regard to the tragic homicide – in order not to compromise the integrity of the investigation, but I can provide you with some information that may assist you and your neighborhood.

I feel confident to tell you that Schmitz Park and Me Kwa Mooks Parks are safe. Activity in the parks does increase during the warmer weather months as it does the activity along Beach Drive and Alki. The particular area where the homicide occurred (along the beach) is also considered quiet and safe. The best advise we can provide our citizens is to always walk with another person and to be aware of your surroundings.

911 calls for the area are considered very low. In the past 15 months, the following 911 calls from citizens have been received…(the geographical area is from Alki Point to just south of Mee Kwa Mooks Park):

51 calls for suspicious persons (most of these occur during the day and during the warmer weather months)
25 calls for False residential alarms
21 calls for disturbances
11 calls for mental complaints
10 calls for Domestic Violence
8 calls for Harassment/assault/threats

Me Kwa Mooks Park (same 15-month window)
5 Parks Exclusions for inappropriate behavior
3 suspicious persons calls
3 fireworks complaints
2 complaints of noise disturbances
2 complaints of Mischief/Nuisance.
Note: No calls for Drugs or Graffiti (not that it is not occurring, just that folks are not reporting it)

On Thursday, March 15th, I attended the Alki Community Council Meeting. I updated the group on our annual summer emphasis plan that pertains to Alki and neighboring City Parks. The plan starts in or around the 3rd weekend of April and continues through September.

In regard to the recent homicide, I told the group that the Seattle Police Department is putting forth all the necessary resources in order to resolve this tragic event. I also provided a briefing on the quiet nature of the neighborhood and that they will see an increase in patrol cars in the area. I advised that the additional patrol cars will not change or help solve the homicide, but more for neighborhood peace at mind, given the fear a crime such as this creates for a normally quiet/tranquil neighborhood.

In regard to street lighting and/or Lighting near parks, I am more than happy to have our Crime Prevention Coordinator – Mr. Mark Solomon do a Crime Prevention Environmental assessment for the neighborhood. Mark is able to work closely with our Parks Department, City Light and SDOT folks if additional measures are needed.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write us in regard to recent events. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Lt. Pierre Davis at 206-233-2033 or Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca at 206-386-1088.

Sincerely,

Captain Steven Paulsen
Seattle Police Department
Commander, Southwest Precinct

[editor's note - the remaining text is how Parks closed its letter]

We appreciate suggestions for improvements to the site, and I’m sure SPD will consider them in the context of the CPTED assessment, which will involve Parks and Recreation, City Light, and Seattle Department of Transportation staff.

Thank you again for taking time to write, and we will let you know when the assessment is complete.

Speaking at last night’s vigil (the video is in our report), Ms. Guy’s father Gregg Smith referred to the area as a “deathtrap.”

ADDED 11 PM MONDAY: A Southwest Precinct sergeant, questioned about the case’s status at a neighborhood meeting in Arbor Heights tonight, said he had no new information that could be shared – but sought to assure those on hand that “a lot of resources” were being applied to the unsolved murder. (The meeting otherwise had nothing to do with the Beach Drive situation- it was a “living room conversation” meeting arranged by the local Block Watch captain a month earlier – and we’ll be writing the full story about it on Tuesday.)

44 Comments

  1. Thank you to the SPD for all they do. There was a police car stopped along the water this evening. Also, just a note about the above stats – I did call in a drug use complaint in that area a few months ago. I just didn’t call 911. I called the non-emergency number.

    Comment by Amy — 5:26 pm March 19, 2012 #

  2. Me, too, Amy. I have called the non emergency number several times.

    Comment by Nearby Resident — 5:48 pm March 19, 2012 #

  3. I never know there was this area below the road at this site. I can see why people would call it creepy, given that it is not visible from the street.

    Comment by Stu — 6:19 pm March 19, 2012 #

  4. W.S. Blog: Apologies in advance if I have missed this.

    Has an official cause of death for Ms. Guy been reported by the Coroner/Seattle PD? If not, do you have any insight from your sources into when it can it be expected?

    Comment by Aman — 6:38 pm March 19, 2012 #

  5. Aman – No. And I doubt it will be officially announced until and unless this is solved. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:15 pm March 19, 2012 #

  6. I wonder if SPD have walked up into Me Kwa Mooks at night and found the partying going on up at the old homestead?
    I also wonder if SPD walks the beach walk very often where lot’s of activity happens?
    We often see the SPD car parked on Alki by the bathroom or treatment center but never there at Me Kwa Mooks. I know they cannot be everywhere but out of the car walking would be a great deterrent.

    Comment by Star 55 — 7:23 pm March 19, 2012 #

  7. I have walked that stretch many times, and never felt isolated or at risk.

    Comment by Mike — 7:31 pm March 19, 2012 #

  8. WSB- why do you think SPD will not release the cause of death until/unless this case is solved? It seems like people should really know how gruesome and scary this situation really is. I don’t understand the lack of updates and information. Any insight?

    Comment by Beach Drive Resident — 7:33 pm March 19, 2012 #

  9. It is evidence, in my understanding. If something is not obviously widely known, they try to keep it close to the vest as possible. The fact it was murder is scary, period, regardless of how the victim died. Very few murders go unsolved but if they do – investigators do NOT go around releasing information unless there is a very specific reason (a piece of evidence that they need the public’s help matching, for example). Much of the time, there’s no way to keep information like the cause of death from being public because of the original nature of the call – say, a shooting, a noisy crime that usually draws police calls fast. This is a very unusual kind of case – someone found dead hours after they were killed. Semi-related: I am covering a meeting with some Arbor Heights neighbors and police right now – a prescheduled “community conversation” – and the second question was about the case. They cannot say anything. But the sergeant who is here reiterated, a LOT of resources are being devoted to it.- TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:50 pm March 19, 2012 #

  10. It would be interesting to see how much the stats changed if they included the non emergency line.

    Although I still standby my earlier post that I always felt safe there. However I was always walking my digs too.

    Comment by Old resident — 8:10 pm March 19, 2012 #

  11. Boy, that letter sure had a bit of a “sorry, you’re on your own” vibe to it.

    Comment by Nick — 8:18 pm March 19, 2012 #

  12. Nick if that is the case then maybe residents need to start calling 911 over everything rather than the nonemergency line to get their attention.

    Comment by Old resident — 8:25 pm March 19, 2012 #

  13. “Note: No calls for Drugs or Graffiti (not that it is not occurring, just that folks are not reporting it)”
    .
    A few months ago, I reported that park’s graffiti to the Park Department. The Park department cleaned it up the next day.
    .
    So it would be somewhat incorrect to say that I didn’t report graffiti. I did report it, just not to 911.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 8:41 pm March 19, 2012 #

  14. Also, I once called 911 from Me Kwa Mooks to report a scary-threatening-growling off-leash dog and his scary-angry-yelling human. The 911 dispatcher said that they don’t respond to off-leash complaints unless someone has been bitten, and they don’t send a car just because the dog’s owner was rude.
    .
    The 911 dispatcher gave me animal control’s phone number, which led to endless phone menus without any people.
    .
    So do you suppose my 911 call is counted?

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 8:46 pm March 19, 2012 #

  15. I’ve reported graffiti to parks and rec directly before, too.

    And honestly, if I called 911 every time there was a disturbance there that I was aware of, they would block my number because they’d be sick of hearing from me. After living so close to the park as long as I have, I have learned to ignore a lot of the noise disturbances, since calling 911 doesn’t usually yield a response fast enough to make any difference. But, those disturbances are typically car doors slamming and loud stereos playing late at night, not murders.

    I agree that foot patrols along the beach, especially at night (especially after the bars close on Alki!) would be a good deterrent to the usual kinds of undesired activities that go on in the park. There is no way to see, from the street level, what might be happening down below on the seawall or up in the woods. (It is possible, however, to get a good view of the beach from the first landing of either staircase, and it would take just a few seconds for patrols to stop, take a look over the side, and continue on.)

    I also have to say, this park is not by itself inherently “creepy.” It is a beautiful place and I am grateful to live so near.

    As far as this case is concerned, I am curious about why the focus is on the park. Yes, that is where Ms. Guy parked her car, but that doesn’t mean that the crime occurred in the park. A “walk along the beach” could mean actually walking down by the water, or walking the length of the sidewalk all the way down to Constellation Park, depending on your definition. There are several other public access points to the water between Me Kwa Mooks and Cormorant Cove. I understand why the police can’t release more details at this stage, but as a near neighbor of the park I would really like to know why the park is the suspected murder site.

    Comment by herongrrrl — 9:14 pm March 19, 2012 #

  16. I hope the neighborhood takes up the offer to have mark Solomon come do an environmental assessment. From my experience- He’s a nice guy and if his assessment determines there is a need for more lighting (or whatever) then the SPD and other city departments will be more likely to respond to the documented need (rather than complaining individuals).

    Comment by Lorelee — 9:32 pm March 19, 2012 #

  17. I’m curious to learn if others are also thinking of the “big elephant” in the room…that this incident might be / could be linked to the three similar instances in Bremerton over the last 10th months?
    Either way, should we not be more concerned about the horrible random act in our neighborhood? If this ” might be ” connected, why is SPD/FBI not communicating so we are aware?
    Just some thoughts that are keeping me up at night.

    Comment by Can't Sleep — 9:44 pm March 19, 2012 #

  18. ^ in response to Can’t Sleep… Not sure it makes a difference regarding public information at this point if LE suspects a link to the Bremerton cases. This case seems to be a random act by a stranger, and the perp is at large, so yeah, there’s a dangerous psychopath (or two) out there. If the psychopaths are one in the same, the advice would still be the same -report suspicious persons and don’t walk alone.

    In any case, I’ll bet they have collected some evidence from the scene of Ms. Guy’s murder and will see if it matches with other DNA evidence from other crimes, solved or unsolved. These tests can take weeks.

    Comment by Gabrielle — 10:12 pm March 19, 2012 #

  19. It bothers me that I see this road every day and just BARELY heard of this tragic incident. Obviously the investigators are doing more to keep the situation “hush hush” than to find the person who did this. Why is there still full access to me kwa mooks? Why is there still beach access where the body was found? Why are all these areas not blocked off to protect the crime scene?

    Comment by michael — 11:11 pm March 19, 2012 #

  20. Is this response from Seattle Parks or Seattle Police?

    Comment by visitor — 12:35 am March 20, 2012 #

  21. Herongrrl – I agree with you, there have been a few times that I’ve parked my car there and walked down to Constellation Park or other sections of Beach Drive SW. I don’t know why Me Kwa Mooks has come up other than maybe they found some evidence there. Mostly it seems like it started by some people mentioning in the comments that a homeless person lives there, etc. Based on the location of her car and her plans as we know them, she would have been on the beach/water (Emma Schmitz Overlook) side of the street. So, I am with you that the Me Kwa Mooks references are a bit misleading/confusing, in comments or otherwise.

    Can’t Sleep – I and a couple of others have brought up a possible connection to the Bremerton Murders on the original thread about the murder. I agree with you that I wish we could get a little more clarity on whether they think there could be a connection. It makes me nervous too. No matter whether they are connected or not, it is still scary to know this person is out there.

    Overall, I am with those of you who say that you’ve never really felt particularly unsafe in that area. I moved here almost 8 years and had never heard about that previous 1993 crime, so I don’t know if that would have changed my perception of the area. Anyway, I have walked down there many times myself, occasionally with a dog, but mostly just alone though not typically at night. Actually, the only trouble I’ve ever had on Beach Drive SW was a car full of teenagers who were being rude and obnoxious. I was walking, they were in a car. There were a couple of different incidents with the same car of teens. That was back in the summers of 2008 and 2009, though. But, my point is that I never had any trouble with another person who was directly walking near me. I have wondered if Ms. Guy’s attacker left the area on foot or by car.

    Comment by Tracey — 1:10 am March 20, 2012 #

  22. I think it’s absurd to think that something needs to be done about this area. It’s probably one of the safest areas in the city. Life has risks. Get used to it. Some nutcase might kill you anywhere, at any time. Do you want to pay for a cop at every corner, 24/7? Do you realize how safe and secure you are compared to most of the world’s population?

    Comment by rocky raccoon — 3:29 am March 20, 2012 #

  23. It would help to know if this was a random act, or if this was someone who intentionally sought the victim out. Not knowing anything is tough.

    Comment by ND — 6:23 am March 20, 2012 #

  24. concerns? “Deathtrap”?

    This is just outrageous, I’m with rocky raccoon.

    If you all are that concerned, maybe you should start hanging out on Delridge Way, perhaps High Point – or whatever Gentrified name they call it now – and avoid all of the trouble along Beach Dr.

    Comment by GP — 8:24 am March 20, 2012 #

  25. in the photo, does it look like blood on the railing? is it rust? the whole thing is freaky & I hope they find the killer. I hope Ms. Guy’s family is coping, this is very sad.

    Comment by seaview — 11:02 am March 20, 2012 #

  26. Rust. Been that way forever. P.S. – Reminder that, as we have mentioned elsewhere, including today’s “West Seattle Tuesday” preview roundup, the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets tonight at 7 pm, and if anyone would like to hear directly from police, or ask them a question (not just about this case, but any neighborhood concerns), this is the time/place. http://wscpc.blogspot.com is the council’s site (they are community volunteers like most people in community groups, but the meeting is always remarkable for the fact police are there and providing updates, answering questions).

    Comment by WSB — 11:04 am March 20, 2012 #

  27. I too am interested in learning if this was a random act of violence, or she was targeted. Poor women – all I’ve read is that she was found in the water. Obviously there must have been some visual trauma to already rule a homicide. So hope they find some answers and the culprit. It was so very sad to see her dad on tv.

    Comment by sassy — 11:31 am March 20, 2012 #

  28. I’ve seen no mention of the murder in Seattle Times. Did I just not see it?

    Comment by I. Ponder — 11:37 am March 20, 2012 #

  29. When police announced it had become a homicide case, it was at least in the Times’ Today file http://today.seattletimes.com – since then they have been linking from their home page to our coverage (I believe the latest story is there now). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:50 am March 20, 2012 #

  30. I am planning on going to the crime prevention meeting tonight. Hopefully, my commute won’t be a nightmare and I’ll get there on time. :)

    Comment by Tracey — 11:52 am March 20, 2012 #

  31. The original Seattle Times aticle says that her throat was cut. I hope that the SPD is looking at the tide charts for the evening of March 11 (and am March 12). High tide was at 8:30pm – 11 ft and I don’t think she could have walked the beach. Also it would be awefully hard to get a body 30 yards offshore (where she was found floating) unless it was dumped in deeper water. Look at the tides and I hate to say it but take a close look at the local people with easy access to deep water. (3800 block condos for example)

    Comment by Charlestown Ave — 11:59 am March 20, 2012 #

  32. I thought they did say that it was a stranger attack.

    I also keep thinking it might be related to the Bremerton serial killer for two reasons. 1) stranger attack and 2) they at one point had reported her neck was slashed. It has been retracted, but I’ve still read (I forget where) that this is Seattles only homicide that wasnt by gun. The Bremerton serial killer stabs his victims. Although my thought is it could also be a copy cat as well. This is just my opinion.

    Comment by Old resident — 1:22 pm March 20, 2012 #

  33. The link above for the Times takes you to an article about a woman found dead in Monroe with her throat slashed not the beach drive story. I had not heard about the woman in Monroe. This is concerning.

    Comment by Lfauntleroy — 1:44 pm March 20, 2012 #

  34. That’s the general link for the Times’ same-day coverage, not a specific link for what they mentioned that day. Sorry, only thing I could come up with in their archive was an AP blurb. (edit) I hadn’t heard of the Monroe case till now.

    Comment by WSB — 1:56 pm March 20, 2012 #

  35. I don’t watch TV and am wondering if this story has legs beyond WS. I see the Mariners got a new pitcher, so I can understand why this story wouldn’t get much press.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 3:35 pm March 20, 2012 #

  36. I. Ponder – when police announced this was a murder, last Thursday, all 4 TV stations did stories. For the vigil on Sunday night, 2 (KING and KIRO) showed up and aired reports. Harder to keep track of radio news. Some publications have picked up developments off what remains of “the wire” (Associated Press).

    Comment by WSB — 3:45 pm March 20, 2012 #

  37. Ok,”the area” did not kill anyone. The trees and the beach and the park and the grass etc.. did not do this, so I dont get all the fuss over “this area”. Highschool kids partying almost certainly did not do this – they are there to party/drink/smoke not to kill. Drug dealers and dope buyers almost certainly did not do this as they are there to do their business and that’s about it. I highly doubt gang bangers did this unless it involved guns. Taggers (graffiti) tag, they usually dont kill people so I’d rule them out as well…. That leaves (A) someone trying to rob her and she resisted, or (B)someone who knew her and had it in for her or (C) the 800lb pyschopathic gorilla mentioned earlier. Other than that I see no reason for people to be “freaking out” about this area. It’s beautiful and we should enjoy the beauty of it, but at the same time people should ALWAYS consider their own self defense a priority – no matter how lovely the view is…. My heart and prayers go out to Greggette and her family and I hope they soon catch the sob that did this, but the park and the area are not to blame.

    Comment by Dean — 5:30 pm March 20, 2012 #

  38. PS- one “demographic” that i WOULD be leery of is homeless men – especially any that might be camping in the park (dont know if any have been, hopefully the cops are checking that). Transients are often people who CHOOSE to be off the radar for a reason and psychos are not unknown in that population.

    Comment by Dean — 5:53 pm March 20, 2012 #

  39. Thank you Dean. I agree, I love that park and have been known to go at night with a friend. I always think of the couple on the bench, with that said that was almost 20 years ago. It’s very easy to give an area a “bad rap” – hopefully this doesn’t happen to our beautiful park.

    Comment by Ldws — 7:09 pm March 20, 2012 #

  40. I agree that the area itself did not kill anyone and, in some instances, the description of this area is really off-base from how it actually is as far I know to be anyway. Although, it wouldn’t hurt to have more lighting and they have already started to trim some of the shrubbery. Of course, the same could be said for that stretch of Alki Ave SW, the part that is just south of the bathhouse up through where the houses start. Also, Lincoln Park could be better lit in some places. I guess we could on and on, though I think the short answer is going to be that they don’t have the money to add more lighting to some places.

    Comment by Tracey — 7:19 pm March 20, 2012 #

  41. We received the email too… IMO, it was a total “oops” that was not intended to go out. One of my neighbors received the final draft and the two emails are quite different.

    I too have a feeling they (the city) is trying to say “your stats show you’re safe” based on 9-1-1 calls made. I don’t think they’re using the non-emergency numbers and there are times that many of us don’t call 9-1-1 when we should.

    I live blocks from where the murder probably took place. I walk my dog there often and many times feel a bit unnerved by different scenes.

    It’s not unusual to see litter of beer cans or booze bottles left on the lower ledge of Emma Schmitz View Point (along the sea wall) or someone getting stoned in their car parked along the park.

    I can tell you that in the last couple years, our cars have been vandalized a couple times a year (smashed in window, items stolen), our home has cops swarm the yard looking for criminals, we’ve had a young man run down the bulkhead in fear for his life…none of this compares to the murder of Greggette.

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 8:48 pm March 20, 2012 #

  42. Rhonda, I’ll ask Parks tomorrow about the “final draft” … but if anyone received it and cares to forward it, editor@westseattleblog.com – I noticed there was some extraneous language on what was sent to councilmembers, local online media (you included), etc., at the end, but aside from that and a couple typos it didn’t look too untoward to me, though I’d be interested to compare! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:01 pm March 20, 2012 #

  43. the neighborhood assessment would be nice. I have sent a personal email to Mark Solomon that has not received any response (since the delivery of the last SPD newsletter). I’ve also been in contact with Mr. Solomon regarding doing things to get speeding under control on BD – no real response or action from anybody.

    I hope that we do see appropriate action from the city in light of what happened to Ms. Guy.

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 9:31 pm March 20, 2012 #

  44. One more thing of note – if I didn’t mention before – in addition to the City Council Parks/Neighborhoods Committee, there also is the Seattle Parks Board. It is an advisory board but I’ve covered some of its meetings over the years and its members are hardworking volunteers plugged into some of the hot issues. Their next meeting is this Thursday. http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkboard/

    Comment by WSB — 10:09 pm March 20, 2012 #

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