West Seattle James Ruzicka Murders 1973

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  • #596351

    pdxbear
    Member

    I am trying to find information about a cousin of mine who was murdered in 1973 by James Ruzicka. Her name was Penny Marie Haddenham, and her body was found hanging in a tree off the West Seattle Expwy by a paperboy.

    The paperboy that found her has contacted me recently, and I would like to find the articles The Seattle Times and PI wrote about her. This whole thing has been shrouded in mystery by the whole family. I don’t know her parents names, or if she had siblings. Ann Rule wrote about it in the book, “Fever in the Heart”. I have considered contacting her for details.

    Please help me get a sense of closure on this. I can’t get any info on her from the family. I want to remember Penny like she should be. All I know about her is that she was found hanging in a tree by a paperboy on a cold and damp February afternoon. I do not want to remember her like this, she deserves better. If you knew her or if anyone can point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it.

    #703379

    Shrimp
    Member

    I knew Penny from grade and middle school. I also lived only 1 block from where her body was found. I remember her vivedly. She had beautiful red hair, always cut short. We had spent alot of time together playing as youngsters. I remember my parents not letting me go outside on my own after this happened. Very devastating. I even remember where the guy lived that was convicted of her murder. And the paperboy was our paperboy.

    #703380

    Shrimp
    Member

    If she was a cousin of yours, as you say, why don’t you know her parents’ names? She had an older brother, as I recall.

    #703381

    Shrimp
    Member

    I also don’t understand how the paperboy could have contacted you, if you don’t even know her parents’ names. How could he have found you?

    #703382

    yes2ws
    Member

    Pdxbear, you’ve peaked my curiosity. Why are you saying you’re related to the victim? Why not just say you learned of this murder and would like to know more? I apologize if I’m wrong, but when I read your post, I immediately got the sense that something’s not quite right with it.

    #703383

    Shrimp
    Member

    yes2wa, I agree. After I originally responded I got to thinking about that too. I know alot about the victim, but am totally hesitant now to talk about it. At least not without some clarity.

    #703384

    JanS
    Participant

    yes…being a cousin…if a first cousin, means that your mother or father was sister/brother to the deceased’s mother/father. One would hope that you would know their names. If you are a distant, distant cousin, why rehash this now? Is it that the family simply refuses to talk with you about it? It was a fairly newsworthy thing. Both newspapers have archives, I’m pretty sure. Maybe you should be checking with them.

    #703385

    JoB
    Participant

    it’s possible

    families do become estranged

    and tend to bury their tragedies…

    we have a couple of mysteries in our family that i have never been able to unravel..

    and a cousin who has simply disappeared due to a divorce,,

    i looked even though i got no support from my family for doing so.

    #703386

    yes2ws
    Member

    I understand that family’s can become estranged, however, Pdxbear doesn’t know the names of his “cousin’s” parents’, or even if she had siblings. Not knowing this very basic information indicates that Pdxbear is very distant in degrees of relation if related to the victim at all.

    Another thing that seems off with his post is that all he knows about the victim is the manner in which she died. How is it he doesn’t know anything else about her? I learned more about Pdxbear’s “cousin” through Shrimp’s post. She had beautiful red hair that she kept short, and she enjoyed playing with other children.

    My guess, and I could be wrong, is that Pdxbear is writing a story on this murder and has contacted the paperboy and the victim’s family, but to little avail.

    Even the title of his post leads one to consider he’s more interested in the murder(s) of James Ruzicka than Penny Marie Haddenham, yet would like to add more to his writings than, “she was found hanging in a tree by a paperboy on a cold and damp February afternoon.”

    I will say this.. I do appreciate Pdxbear attempting to portray the victim as the lively person she seemingly was; I just don’t care for the manner in which he set out to obtain this information.

    Again, Pdxbear; if I’m wrong about who you are, I sincerely apologize.

    #703387

    Shrimp
    Member

    Again, yes2ws, it is getting stranger the more I think about it.

    How the heck did “the paperboy contact Pdxbear”? There would have been no connection or trail to him/her.

    #703388

    JoB
    Participant

    i am just pointing out that we are often too quick to jump to conclusions about posts or posters here…

    life is full of complex coincidences…

    for instance.. my son who has literally several hundred relatives he wouldn’t know if they passed him on the street because he wasn’t raised with the family would be a legitimate cousin who would have limited means to access family history without the cooperation of his immediate family members… in fact.. without the cooperation of one.. he would never have found me…

    as for giving out information….

    we should always be careful to post only what we would be willing to share with thousands of people we don’t know…

    because literally thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people we don’t know read these posts.

    shrimp…

    i am willing to bet you are perfectly willing to share your memory of the lively redheaded woman who was murdered with everyone who is interested enough to read…

    and probably anything that can be found by public record.

    whether the OP’s credentials are legitimate or not.. the interest in a murder victim long forgotten by most is..

    anything you can do to provide an accurate portrait of the living woman is a tribute to her memory.

    #703389

    Gina
    Participant

    http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives/?p_product=HA-SE&p_theme=histpaper&p_action=keyword#from=stnv3

    To search the Seattle Times Newspaper archives. Should give some basic dates.

    Shrimp–this all happened at the same time as the Ted murders, remember the panic at Madison? I was on permanent restriction for the rest of that school year.

    #703390

    yes2ws
    Member

    JoB, I’m sure you mean well. I’ve read numerous postings of yours and you seem like a nice person. In this instance, however, I feel you’re diminishing the fact that Pdxbear likely misrepresented himself and that the surviving members of the horrific crime are wishing to withhold information from him.

    We know that Pdxbear is far enough removed from the victim to even know basic facts about her. I agree with JanS when she asks, if Pdxbear is that distant a cousin, why the rehash?

    Your post concludes with an appeal to Shrimp to provide an accurate portrait of the young victim. Why, when we know from Pdxbear himself that it’s against her family’s wishes?

    We have no idea why they aren’t favorable with the sharing of information. A quick internet search gave me at least one plausible reason they may have.

    Unless you’ve been through the horrific aftermath of a violent crime committed against a loved one, you truly have no idea how protective your drive becomes from that point forward.

    I really feel the wishes of the victim’s family should be respected.

    #703391

    JoB
    Participant

    Yes2ws..

    we know nothing about Pdxbear except what was posted.

    i can assume that Pdxbear is not a Seattle resident because of the Pdx part of their sign on name…

    but i could be dead wrong about even that.

    You and others assume that Pdxbear is not a family member because you can’t think of circumstances in which a cousin wouldn’t know basic information..

    but you could as easily be dead wrong about that too.

    as far as that is concerned..

    i know absolutely nothing about you or your motives either… but that doesn’t stop me from treating you as a responsible and caring person.

    i certainly won’t be sharing any information about Penny since i didn’t know her..

    but members of this forum have already shared penny memories on another topic thread…

    and characterizing her as a friendly short haired red-head that you may or may not have shared classes with isn’t likely to upset a family that does not want… but can’t avoid some notoriety because of her murder.

    There are some families that believe very strongly in hiding the details of family tragedies… even from family members.

    I can’t count how many times one of my older family members have told me that i just didn’t need to know something that came back to bite me when i found it was public knowledge to everyone but me.

    in my experience..

    that inevitably leads to further tragedy.

    I don’t suggest that anyone post anything truly personal about anyone on this forum.

    But sharing general information and pointing someone who is not familiar with local sources in the direction of publicly available information is certainly acceptable.

    I was able to answer the OPs basic inquiry by accessing publicly available information myself.. though i would not print any of it here.

    As for honoring the family’s requests for privacy..

    I would imagine her immediate family would be pleased to know that she is remembered fondly as a person… and not just as a murder victim by those who knew her as a child.

    They might not want to talk about her..

    but i doubt they want those who knew her to forget she existed.

    #703392

    Shrimp
    Member

    To everyone; I have not shared anything that someone couldn’t find out on their own, respecting my friend’s family. That’s why the questions came up. Thank you for “getting” that.

    To yes2ws; Don’t you find it interesting that this topic has brought up tons of discussion, but none have been replies from pdxbear? I wonder if he/she couldn’t answer our questions.

    To Gina; I do remember being on lockdown because of Penny’s murder, and because of Ted Bundy. It was a scary time. Madison was definately interesting then.

    #703393

    hopey
    Participant

    Anybody know if James Ruzicka is still alive? Best I can tell, he’s serving two consecutive life sentences, but it’s unclear if that’s in Washington or Oregon (where he was ultimately captured).

    Some folks reading this may not realize that PDX is the code for Portland Int’l Airport…

    #703394

    Garden_nymph
    Member

    Also, clicking on the word, “member” below the OP’s name lists Portland, OR as his location.

    #703395

    TammiWS
    Member

    NOBODY should release any info about Penny or her family on this site. This person must have googled Penny’s name and got a very old, year ago posting on this similar topic and asked the same pasted-in question as on this thread. This person is SEARCHING….

    I also grew up in the Ted Bundy days and lived near and spent a lot of time at Lake Sammamish State Park – and remember my mom being terrifed to let me go there.

    I also have a friend who was murdered by her husband – also written about by Ann Rule – and this man has gone to INCREDBILE lengths to get to and harm her family since her murder and most definately since her trial. He doesnt give up….he’s unhinged, a sociopath and will not and has not hestitated to do harm to her parents and his only children. DO NOT put any information out on this site to make it easy for PDX to find her family.

    Trust me, the families go through more than enough with the murder of a family member and and we do not need to help make it easier to locate the family. PLEASE dont post information publically on this site.

    He/she can simply contact the SPD and go from there. And yes, PDX is Portland. And BTW, a simple Google search will tell you this guy was in jail in Oregon.

    #703396

    uc_booker
    Member

    I am the paperboy who found Penny Marie Haddenham hanging from that tree on that late afternoon in February 1973. I found Pdxbear on Facebook, he did not find me. Haddenham is not that common a surname, so I asked him if he was related to her.

    James Ruzicka should be serving his sentence in Washington by now. I know because my father and I testified at his trial. Its been over thirty years since he was convicted and you don’t get that long of a sentence for sexual assault. How long ago was the Serial Killer Central website updated?

    I have done everything to assure Pdxbear that his cousin was a very sweet and kind girl. She used to stop and play with our poodles when they were out in the front yard. She only lived one block away from us.

    As for family, my grandmother and my mother both disowned me for being Gay. There are many of my mother’s ten siblings that I have no idea what their names are and I have no idea what happened to my 37 cousins, their significant others, or even if they have any children.

    I am really kind of ashamed of you people. He asked about his cousin. He didn’t ask if anyone knew where Penny’s family was. He didn’t ask anything except about her as a person. I think 37 years after the fact that its okay to release that kind of information.

    #703397

    hopey
    Participant

    Sounds like the best thing would be for pdxbear to post contact information (set up a new free email account like gmail or yahoo, if necessary), so people can communicate privately and determine for themselves if this person is legitimate, or a prankster or predator.

    #703398

    TammiWS
    Member

    Ashamed of what? First, I find it interesting that you and PDX join within 1 day. I may be jumping to all sorts of conclusions but I am taking a VERY conservative approach and will not waver on this one. I’ve seen this firsthand and its not worth the risk.

    Did you meet PDXbear face to face to ascertain if he’s who he says he is? There are many resources this person can use to find out information. This blog isnt one of them. Emailing, Facebook, blogging – all are not even remotely safe when dealing with situations like this. As a matter of fact, my friends husband who murdered her was able to DATE from prison. A prison dating site….No joke…. I saw his profile myself and he sounded like a super charming guy!

    Those of us who testified in my friends trial were given paperwork every time this murderer was transferred across the WA state prison system. You may think PDX is fine and just searching, but again, these people are coniving, determined and manipulative and will go to EVERY length to get what they want.

    #703399

    JoB
    Participant

    uc_booker

    the sad thing is that tammi’s post..

    which is all about her personal situation

    and has little or nothing to do with this request… will probably stand…

    while yours is likely to be reported for name calling and removed.

    The WSB forum is for the most part peopled by a caring and helpful group of people who generally give new posters the benefit of doubt.

    I am not sure why this post triggered so many negative comments..

    except that we have had in the past a bad experience or two with people who vastly misrepresented themselves…

    The ability to connect through the internet is both a wonderful and frightening thing… it is wonderful that you can make connections that would have previously been impossible and frightening that sometimes people are not who they seem.

    I have chosen to assume my internet connections with strangers are as genuine as my in person connections with strangers…

    but some people have a harder time doing that.

    #703400

    WSB
    Keymaster

    I’ve been flagged to this thread and aside from the one post outright insulting somebody, it doesn’t break any rules but I honestly am disappointed by all the questioning of people’s motives. If you don’t want to respond to someone, don’t respond to them. Period.

    People post requests for information all the time, maybe something unusual like this, maybe something really simple like “what restaurant serves (some dish you’re looking for)?” We have our rules set up in order to prevent the posting of third-party identifying information and if someone DOES, you can flag us and we’ll take care of it. Otherwise, please give people the benefit of the doubt. We don’t have a rule that would call for deleting the posts questioning people’s motives but I request that it stop.

    P.S. I know almost nothing about this case. But if you are looking for information on whether an offender is in a Washington state prison, there’s a really simple lookup page:

    http://www.doc.wa.gov/offenderinfo/default.aspx

    It says James Ruzicka is in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. The page does not give info on when someone’s term runs out etc. nor anything else, but if they are not in a Washington state prison or no longer in a Washington state prison, they will no longer be listed.

    If you are trying to find documentation on cases in the ’70s, that’s not online, and you probably would have to call the King County Courthouse or appropriate venue to start going through the paperwork.

    I appreciate vigilance but if you have reason to suspect that something untoward is going on, flag us. Please don’t take it upon yourself to have a trial.

    #703401

    inactive
    Member

    You’re being your usual generous self, TR, by calling it “a trial”. Seemed more like a witch hunt by the bored villagers.

    JoB – thanks for remaining rational. Well done.

    #703402

    uc_booker
    Member

    See, I told you so! And, I “ignored” her.

    I can tell you what happened. My Seattle Times route started on the little side street that you can turn off on just before entering the West Seattle Freeway from the south. Its just north of Yasuko’s. The route went down to the corner, left, and over the pedestrian overpass. On the other side of the freeway, my sister had a West Seattle Shopping News route. She did not have to collect for that route. They just paid her to deliver it.

    On that particular day, it was a very cold and rainy day. She was waiting for me to come over the overpass. She did not want to finish her route. She helped me finish mine. When we got to 33rd Ave. SW and Charlestown, we walked down to Fauntleroy & Charlestown and crawled over the metal railing and down along the chainlink fence. It is right above the southern turn in the West Seattle Freeway as it approaches West Seattle.

    We started tossing the Shopping News into the blackberry bushes. I had to urinate, so I went down a trail while my sister finished with the papers. The trail ran along the top of a ravine. I walked to the end of the trail and urinated on a tree stump. As I headed back up the trail. I noticed a pair of legs. It looked like someone was laying on the side of the ravine. It wasn’t until I got further up the trail that I noticed the rope suspended from a tree root at the top of the ravine.

    I did not see Penny’s face, her back was to me. She had on blue bell bottoms, a gold jacket and a blue knit hat. To be honest, it looked like a young boy. She was only 14 or 15 at the time. My sister started to come down the trail looking for me and I just started screaming for her not to come down. I ran up the hills to my house and told my mom. She was making dinner and did not believe me. She told me to tell my father. He was having one of his “War and Peace” moments in the restroom. I was literally jumping up and down in place waiting for him to come out of the bathroom.

    He and I went back down and I showed him what I had found. He crawled down the hill and checked. He confirmed that it was indeed a person. We went back up to 33rd Ave. S.W. and went to the first house we could find. There was an invalid in the house. We were talking to her through the mail slot in her door. We kept asking her to call the police and she kept yelling that if we didn’t leave she would call the police. It would have been funny if it were not so tragic.

    When the police showed up, it was a cruiser at first. When he saw what we had found, he called the detectives. They questioned my father and I. They also undressed Penny while she was still hanging as the coroner hadn’t shown up yet. They found that it was a girl, not a boy, and that she had bite marks and cigarette burns on her torso.

    The police let us go, but not before my mom stopped by, on her way to a fundraiser. to see how we were doing. When we got home, I did not sleep for four days. My parents had a king sized bed and I sat in between them until I finally passed out from exhaustion. My trauma lasted less than a week. The Haddenham family’s lasted much longer. I feel very lucky that I was able to bring Penny home. Her family had closure. They were able to bury their daughter and prosecute the suspect.

    James Ruzicka had also raped and murdered Nancy Kinghammer. The Explorer Scouts found her body in what was an empty lot across from the piano store on Avalon Way. The property is a condominium now. However, at the time, Ruzicka had buried her in a carpet he’d brought from his ex-wife’s house and also under a log. He went back and raped her every two or three days after she was dead.

    It took a year, but my father and I testified at his trial. He was convicted. I am very happy for my part in the entire incident. No one can challenge my motives. I brought the neighbor girl who used to play with our poodles home.

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