By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Thanks to a WSB’er for the tip on this: Convicted kidnapper/rapist Donald Randolph Hooper is out of prison, after a ruling by the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board.
Longtime West Seattleites might recognize the name. In December 1982, at which time he happened to be working for Washington State Ferries on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, Hooper kidnapped a 14-year-old girl at gunpoint from a bus stop in West Seattle. She survived an ordeal that also included molestation and rape, at multiple locations in King and Kitsap Counties, before Hooper dumped her in the water of Hood Canal after binding her hands and partially binding her feet. She managed to struggle to shore after he left, and found someone who called police.
Hooper also was eventually convicted of a separate incident that had happened weeks earlier, involving raping a hitchhiker at gunpoint, though that conviction was reversed on appeal because of a technicality; ISRB documents say he admitted he committed the crime.
His sentence for the West Seattle kidnapping and Kitsap County rape was life in prison. But because Hooper’s conviction and sentencing predated our state’s mid-’80s fixed-sentence laws, Hooper was eligible for the equivalent of parole, which is granted by the aforementioned ISRB.
So last month, as noted in a TV report last week which led a reader to tell us about the case and point out the West Seattle connection, he was released from prison.
Hooper, now 56, was originally expected to live in Whatcom County after being released, but the sheriff there – as detailed on the department’s website in this February writeup – opposed him being released at all.
The board, however, went ahead with the release, and Hooper was then supposed to go live in Snohomish County, until the board learned that one of his victims lives there. ISRB spokesperson Robin Riley, who answered our questions about the case via e-mail, said the board tries to contact victims before scheduled hearings, so that: “If they choose, victims and survivors can meet with the board members at their regularly scheduled monthly board meeting and let the Board know how the crime has affected their lives and if they have any requests for no contact or geographic boundaries.”
In this case, Riley continued, “our victim liaison was able to contact one of the victims prior to Mr. Hooper’s release. Unfortunately, a second victim did not return contact until the day of Mr. Hooper’s release. Mr. Hooper was released to the same county as this person, but not the same city, and he was then later moved.”
That was not the victim who was kidnapped in West Seattle, according to the Department of Corrections, which told WSB that she no longer lives in this state. Hooper, meantime, was moved to a work-release facility downtown – 700 block of 8th Avenue, according to his page on the online sex-offender lookup, from which we obtained the photo you see above – while DOC looks for someplace he can live more permanently.
While Hooper was just recently released, the hearing in his case happened almost a year ago – August 15, 2012 – and the decision was made a month later, according to a document we obtained from the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board. That document also indicates Hooper originally was found “conditionally parolable” 10 years ago, and again at a hearing four years ago, at which time the board decided to allot three years for a “re-entry plan.” Inbetween those two times, he had a 2005 hearing, with the board “deciding he posed too great a risk for release” but a doctor saying he did not meet the bar for “civil commitment” – the term for keeping some high-risk offenders in prison indefinitely.
So what happens next? DOC spokesperson Chad Lewis tells us Hooper is under GPS observation for the first month. He will be under DOC supervision for three years. And because he underwent treatment in prison, among other factors including his evaluation results, he is currently considered low risk.
Meantime, Lewis says, there are still about 270 criminals who were sentenced to life before the sentencing laws changed – which means they are eligible for review at some point. “Now, if you get life without parole, it’s life without parole,” he observes.