CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Why Ryan Cox is back in jail

Two days ago, we reported on the release from prison of 43-year-old Ryan J. Cox, three and a half years after he stabbed a man in West Seattle, following a string of increasingly violent crimes over an eight-year span (detailed here). Early this morning, we updated our Tuesday report with news that Cox is back in jail for violating conditions of his release. Now we have additional information: Southwest Precinct police arrested him on a warrant issued because he did not report to his Department of Corrections officer as required post-release. That’s considered “escaping” from community custody (parole), under which Cox was to be supervised for 18 months post-prison. Police say the DOC contacted them last night to advise that a warrant was forthcoming. Police say they got confirmation of the warrant at 10:30 pm and arrested Cox 16 minutes later. The police report says that after his release from prison, he “immediately returned to the area (where) the original crime occurred,” and that’s exactly where he was arrested – in the 7100 block of California SW. Cox remains in the SCORE jail in Des Moines this morning. What happens now? We’re researching that as part of a followup inquiry we already had out to the DOC. State law classifies escaping from community custody as a felony. (DOC photo, July 2020)

33 Replies to "CRIME WATCH FOLLOWUP: Why Ryan Cox is back in jail"

  • M April 29, 2021 (11:28 am)

    Excellent police work….so appreciative that they acted so quickly.  Let’s hope our justice system now does its job so we don’t continue this cycle over and over and over…..

  • Skeptic April 29, 2021 (12:01 pm)

    Let’s hope they keep him locked away from the rest of us.  If you can’t be bothered to go to your very first P.O. meeting then you are probably not going to make it on the outside.

  • Alki resident April 29, 2021 (12:18 pm)

    He went right back to where he last attacked. Who didn’t see this coming. He is putting every one of us in danger once again. Glad he was picked up but he’s obviously going to get back to Gatewood ASAP. Mortifying 

  • Anne April 29, 2021 (12:42 pm)

    So he exhibits “good behavior” in prison & is rewarded- but just can’t manage it out in society. 

    • AMC April 29, 2021 (3:44 pm)

      Yes. Because his mental health goes untreated. His mom tried to get him help for years but it was always the same cycle. Sadly I worked for many years in that area and he was terrifying to encounter.

    • wscommuter April 30, 2021 (8:21 am)

      I think there is a misunderstanding about what “good behavior” means for a reduction in prison time.  By statute, inmates earn 1/3 off of their sentences for “good behavior” which is actually a very low standard to meet while in prison – basically it means, don’t have major infractions of rules.  For the most serious offenses (Murder1, Rape1, Assault1, etc.), that reduction is 1/6 instead of 1/3.  It is a formula which is applied to the standard range sentence applied by the trial court judge.  Very little discretion.  

  • Flo B April 29, 2021 (12:46 pm)

    To the previous commenter that called out WSB for showing his picture and giving him the benefit of doubt. What do you say now???? I would LOVE to hear you, or anybody else defend him in any way.

  • WS’er April 29, 2021 (12:46 pm)

    One of the more troubling things about violating DOC in WA State is that there are really no repercussions for violating parole. Federally and in other states, if you violate, you return to prison to finish your sentence. Here in WA, you simply get locked up for a period of anywhere from 3-30 days (depending how many times you violate/how you violated). Then you are released and the cycle will continue until probation is complete. Every day you are in jail counts toward your credits of probation. Also, King County Jail is not booking DOC warrants. Thankfully SPD was willing to drive him the extra distance to the only jail that will accept DOC warrants in King County.

    • WSB April 29, 2021 (1:11 pm)

      That last part, I learned on followup. Almost assumed that the SCORE booking had meant he was arrested elsewhere but decided to leave that out until I found out for sure.

  • Will S. April 29, 2021 (12:46 pm)

    It would be helpful to know more about Cox’s specific community custody conditions, so that people can report a violation if they see one. In addition to requiring meetings with his correctional officer, a court has discretion to order a person under community custody to stay away from a certain area, to refrain from any contact with certain people, and to refrain from possessing or consuming alcohol. The conditions would be listed in the Judgment and Sentence from Cox’s latest criminal case.

    • WSB April 29, 2021 (3:29 pm)

      That page appears to be standard boilerplate, plus no contact with the victim. While one of the boilerplate conditions is “remain within geographic boundaries as set forth in writing by DOC officer’ but no boundaries are specified in the document. The “no alcohol” box is NOT checked, just “controlled substances.”

  • bellvy April 29, 2021 (1:07 pm)

    Let’s hope the mental health system that failed him will step up now to do its job.  Unfortunately, there is no such system in place, nor has there been since his very first encounter with law enforcement.

    • ? April 29, 2021 (1:25 pm)


    • StopCuttingDownTrees April 29, 2021 (3:51 pm)

      You’re assuming he has a mental health issue. He could just be a selfish, evil narcissist who loves to prey on vulnerable people. Prisons and street gangs are full of them.

      • WSB April 29, 2021 (4:05 pm)

        No one is “assuming” he has a mental-health issue. He does. Mental illness is NOT an excuse for crime but it is an absolute fact in this case. Dating back to 2009, we have covered this extensively – been to hearings, read documents and evaluations, even spoken with his mother. If you’re unfamiliar with the case, all you have to do is read the one comprehensive story linked above (and in Tuesday’s story).- TR

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 29, 2021 (6:42 pm)

          Regardless, he’s too dangerous to be out in public among vulnerable people. There’s also no excuse for his violent attacks. I was nearly killed by a mental patient decades ago who was being transported between in-patient lockdown and a temporary location. I understand, first-hand, how quickly such attacks can happen.

      • Change the system April 29, 2021 (8:12 pm)

        What you just described is a mental health issue.

        • StopCuttingDownTrees April 30, 2021 (12:10 am)

          Most mentally ill are NOT dangerous, violent  criminals.

          • Putin May 1, 2021 (11:33 am)

            Do you vouch for that personally? 

    • John April 29, 2021 (3:59 pm)


      The failure is Mr. Cox’s.

    • Anne April 29, 2021 (4:02 pm)

      So he’s mentally ill? Guess I didn’t see that . 

  • flimflam April 29, 2021 (1:43 pm)

    this is ridiculous. the guy has shown over and again that he’s a violent criminal…

    • JohnW April 29, 2021 (3:55 pm)

      This violent guy has exhibited symptoms of mental illness over and over.  He needs the care we just don’t support. How was he released? Was he homeless? It appears from WSB reporting that he had just been released and within a day was arrested for not reporting to his corrections officer.  Amazingly quickly the denigrated court system acted and SPD must have had an ‘all points bulletin’ arrested within hours, no less.  This scenario sounds highly unusual for someone so recently  paroled.

  • Peter April 29, 2021 (6:22 pm)

    Mr. Cox should be serving a long prison sentence rather than back on the streets where he could harm more innocent people.

    • Foop April 30, 2021 (11:49 am)

      How long is long enough? And to what end? I see a lot of people saying he should be locked up forever. Why not just have the death penalty, if your only goal is to say he can’t be rehabbed and released, what’s the point of keeping people locked up until they die? I don’t support the death penalty but I also don’t support locking people up forever.

      • Wenna April 30, 2021 (3:46 pm)

        While walking my dog or walking down the street I don’t want to come across this man.  His past , his horrendous acts show that he’s a menace.  The first thing he did after leaving prison was to come to the crime scene he created.  How much does that tell all of us about him.   I can only imagine what his victims are feeling. I was witness to his horrible yelling obscenities. Watched him hiding and living in the alleys and Gatewood School doorways.  And the night he struck that poor gentleman was awful.  Enough.  Our neighborhood is in fear of him and want him locked up.   He came right back to the crime scene….. hello! 

  • teacher April 29, 2021 (10:35 pm)

    I work at the school near where he was last arrested. Today we got an email with his picture and the directions to call the police if we see him and do not engage with him in anyway. It bothers me that he is back in society if he is not trusted at all. Our mental health system is broken.

  • Lynn April 29, 2021 (11:00 pm)

    This guy has been terrorizing West Seattle residents for almost a decade now. His crimes have evolved from vandalism to attacking people with baseball bats to now stabbing. Are we waiting for his next crime where he actually kills someone before he is out away for good?

  • anonyme April 30, 2021 (7:08 am)

    Part of the failure of the mental health system is not just in administration and availability, but in what constitutes treatment.  The current choices are drugs and more drugs or talk therapy, although some progress has been made with ECT and ketamine, for example.   Often the standard drugs are more debilitating than the illness itself, which is why compliance is so often a problem.  Most traditional approaches are more voodoo than science.  I’d love to see some real change and advances in how we treat mental illness – which is kind of a blanket term, covering a range of social ills.   I suspect that “mental illness” is often a combination of disease AND character.  Individuals like Mr. Cox are not only severely ill but too dangerous to be left to roam the streets.  Unfortunately, there is no cure in sight for what ails him, so containment, and probably drugs, are the only option – and for the long term.

    • SA April 30, 2021 (2:03 pm)

      Most traditional approaches are more voodoo than science. “This is just flatly not true, and saying so only increases peoples’ distrust and fear of psychotherapy. There are successful individual and family therapy approaches for working with people with major mental illness. What there is not, is FUNDING for skilled enough practitioners and long enough treatment. So what you often get is pre-licensed folks, or even students still in school, giving short-term treatments to individuals when what would really help is long-term wrap-around systemic therapy, provided by seasoned clinicians, that includes family members and community in wellness  and safety planning.

  • LilacsInBloom17 May 1, 2021 (1:16 pm)

    This is very sad… I have first hand experience with a similar situation and it is so difficult to get the proper care for people with severe mental illness. And it is true that often times an inmate is released with no housing lined up. And if they’re mentally ill they will likely be in and out of the hospital. It takes a long time for the state to finally take action and send them to a facility where they can be properly cared for. They often end up recommitting and are back in jail. With the person I know that this has happened to they did reoffend, but the charges were dropped and they’re now at Western State Hospital, which I’ve heard is a pretty scary place. They’re family can’t do anything since they refuse they’re help. It is a very sad situation. The mental health system needs to change otherwise this kind of stuff will keep happening. 

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