Wednesday, December 19, 2007

When The State No Longer Protects Its Citizens

This story was reported by Shelley Murphy, Jonathan Saltzman, and Scott Allen of the Globe staff. It was written by Allen and edited for ElderAbuseHelp.Org

GRAHAM, Washington USA. - December 18,2004 .- Ma and Pa's Roundup is the kind of hole in the wall where everyone turns to look at the rare newcomers who venture through its doors, which is exactly what happened the night that Daniel T. Tavares Jr. came striding in.

Tavares had a tattoo of a raging bull on his neck. He announced he had a stash of crystal meth in his pocket. He said he had ties to the Mafia and owned his own tattoo business. And he let it drop that, by the way, he had killed three people back in Boston.

Tavares fugitive from Massachusetts with a history of horrific violence, a man who killed his mother with a carving knife, led police to another woman's corpse in his former backyard, and threatened Mitt Romney and his own father. Hours after leaving the Roundup, Tavares is believed to have killed again. He allegedly killed a couple who lived across the street from his trailer, shooting each one three times in the head.

How did, how a mentally ill, drug-abusing killer was unleashed on a rural community 3,000 miles away, his sentence for killing his mother came to an end last summer, including the hearing July 16 in which Tavares, facing more criminal charges for assaulting prison guards, appeared in Superior Court asking that he be set free until trial.

It took Judge Kathe M. Tuttman less than 10 minutes to waive bail and release Tavares and
prosecutors rejected or ignored serious concerns about the inmate raised by police and prison officials over a 16-year period.Tavares's egregious prison record that included more than 100 serious disciplinary complaints.

Word never reached the people of Graham that a violent fugitive had taken up residence. Brian and Beverly Mauck, who planned to start a family in the house they had purchased in 2006, never mentioned their new neighbor to family members. Beverly's mother said she first heard the name Daniel Tavares when he was arrested in her daughter's murder.

Tavares claimed he was hearing voices when he stabbed her over and over again on the night of July 11, 1991, telling police that he "just started swinging" with a 12-inch knife after an evening of drinking and taking LSD. Police found 14 vials of psychiatric medications on the dresser in Tavares's bedroom.

Tavares's history of mental illness persuaded Walsh, the DA, to accept a guilty plea to manslaughter rather than pursue murder charges, prompting criticism recently from police involved in the investigation.

"To me, it was definitely homicide," said former Somerset police chief James M. Smith. "Certainly, when you stab someone 16 times, there's an intent there."

Walsh said later that he feared Tavares's psychological problems could suggest he did not understand what he was doing on the night of the killing. "We have to prove that he possessed a sound mind. . . . If we can't prove that, he's found not guilty."

In 2000, he contacted police to say that he could tell them where to find the body of 32-year-old Gayle Botelho, who he said had been killed by two acquaintances after "some wild party" in 1988. Investigators unearthed Botelho's skeletal remains in a makeshift grave behind the Fall River house Tavares had lived in at the time of her disappearance. Like Ann Tavares, Botelho had been stabbed to death.

For years, he wrote threatening letters to public officials and family members from his cell, prompting a State Police investigation in 2006. "He threatened to kill me," said the elder Tavares. "He said he'd come down here when he got out and break all my ribs and maim me."

However, Tavares could not be charged with a crime, prosecutors said, because, as an inmate, he had no ability to carry out the threats.

By July 16, the only thing that separated Tavares from freedom was raising the $100,000 bail he faced in the assault charges.His problem would be solved in a brief hearing barely noticed outside of Judge Tuttman's courtroom in Worcester.

Despite the freedom, Tavares's father said, his son was unchanged, calling the elder Tavares in November to blurt "I'm out" and hang up.

That night, the elder Daniel Tavares Sr. slept with his gun.

Sometime in the next few hours, Pierce County prosecutor Gerald T. Costello alleges, Tavares kicked in the front door of the Maucks' home, shot Brian Mauck in the face, then shot him twice more as he lay on the floor. Beverly Mauck tried to run, but she only made it to the front door before she was shot in the head, too. Tavares told police he then placed her body on top of Brian's and covered them with a blanket as a sign of respect.

Troyer said Massachusetts officials have to do better than blaming one another for Tavares. "Everybody needs to take a little bit of responsibility," said Troyer. "If somebody were to say, 'Boy, we could have done a better job,' we'd have a lot more respect."

Abridged for E.A. =>>

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