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Back to In Memory of Haille

Haille's Story - Part 2

Deadly Decisions Far from the Public Eye

Unknown to Haille, Barbara, or Mark, when Atticus came barging into the restaurant on May 17, he had only just hours before been freshly released from Sonoma County jail, where he'd spent the night, having been arrested by Cloverdale Police the day before.

On May 16th, Atticus had gone on a similar rampage at a store down the street where Haille used to work. Apparently Atticus was still unaware that Haille had just changed jobs. As with Mark at the restaurant, the owner of the store ordered Atticus out. Atticus did leave the store. He then took his rage into the street and began jumping out in front of moving cars. Atticus behavior in the street was so extreme, that Jim, the owner of the store, called police."I told dispatch," he said, "You'd better get someone down here now. Either he's going to get himself killed, or there's going to be an accident."

On May 16, Cloverdale police arrested Atticus for being drunk in public, and booked him into the Sonoma County Jail.

Probation officers are the unheralded third pillar of the law enforcement trio. Unlike the cops and prosecutors who get heroized on prime time TV, probation officers don't even make the sub plots. One of probation's most critical functions is as generally unknown as it is unseen.

Probation officers are masters of quickly assembling the big picture of a person's life and crimes. The whole system depends on the thousands of such summary reports compiled by probation officers every year. When judges appear to make their wise pronouncements from the bench on sentencing day, for example, they're usually merely parroting the recommendations of a probation officer who first investigated, compiled and evaluated the convicted man's life.

There's another sentinel point, even more hidden away, where probation officers stand one of their most vital watches on public safety. Or, at least, in Sonoma County they did so up until March of 2004.

When police would bring suspects to Sonoma County jail, no matter how minor the offense, before the prisoner could bail out or be cited out to the streets, he first had to pass through the fine meshed screen of a probation officer's cite-release investigation.

The cite-release probation officer would start by delving into the complex myriad of criminal justice databases, looking for outstanding warrants, probation or parole status, new pending charges, stop-and-hold orders, failures-to-appear, restraining orders, and more. Then they would dip into court dockets, or pick up the phone to other agencies, or whatever else was needed to fill in whatever questions the raw data raised. The policy was, if there's a legal basis to hold him, do so!

Many a bad guy who thought he was about to walk out of jail on a minor bust, has gotten a rude awakening when a probation officer crunched the records, and snagged him on a no-bail hold.

On May 16 when Atticus Reynolds was arrested and booked on a drunk in public, there was more than one choke point on his record.

Just for starters:

  • Atticus was on court probation in Mendocino County for auto theft. And he was on another court probation in Sonoma County for poaching and criminal conspiracy, which crimes he committed while on probation for another crime. Either one of these probations, on it's own, would have likely triggered a no-bail-hold. Especially after noting that Atticus had been on court probation for one crime or another for the entire last five years of his life.


  • Atticus had new open charges pending against him on three new cases in Mendocino county:
    • On April 29th, Atticus was charged with a felony assault with a deadly weapon (Haille was not the victim), along with charges on four drug and vehicle misdemeanors.
    • On April 29th, he was also charged with violation of probation.
    • On May 3rd, he was charged with resisting arrest.

And this was just the recent surface of Atticus' record of red flags.

But in the early morning hours of May 17, 2005, Atticus had little to worry about as he prepared to walk out of jail as he'd done so many times before. The Sonoma County probation department cite/release program, which for nearly two decades has had four probation officers standing deep guard on your safety and mine, had been unceremoniously disbanded the year before. The program had been originally approved and instituted as part of a court ordered consent decree in 1985 following a lawsuit against the jail. But in March, 2004, without press or public notice, Sonoma County Probation Chief Cora Guy turned the entire probation cite/release program over to the jail guards.

Turning the cite-release program over to jail guards was as rash a move as a medical trauma center turning over it's triage decisions to the orderlies. Not only do the jail guards have a profound conflict of interest in performing this function, since the more people they let out of jail, the less work they have to do. But their level of training doesn't make them anywhere near eligible for mining the complex criminal record systems, let alone does it give them the crucial in-depth knowledge of the legal system needed to properly interpret the significance of what they're looking at, and where to look next. To begin with, jail guards are only required to have a GED Probation officers are required to have a college degree, and their specialized training starts from there.

Haille's life, and yours and mine, depend on a criminal justice system that keeps a trained eye on the big picture. Probation Chief Cora Guy, in direct defiance of her sworn duty, has blinded the public's most expert inner eye of all. Haille, for one, has suffered the consequences.

Building Up to It

In the week leading up to the murder Atticus was looking all over for Haille. One day he even took a taxi around town knocking on different people's doors. But aside from the encounter at the restaurant, it seems Atticus' land based search wasn't meeting with much success. Atticus' hounding of Haille on her cell phone, however, was different story.

On or about May 18, Haille turned to her friend Ron. Different from the age mate friends she had turned to for help, Ron at 35-years-old, was older and more experienced.

This time when Atticus called, Haille turned the cell phone toward Ron. "Listen to this", she pleaded. Ron had no trouble hearing Atticus' screaming threats. "I'm going to make your family pay," Atticus' voice raged out of the phone. According to Ron, "This call made Haille so scared she asked me to drive with her out to her aunt's house to make sure they were ok." "On the way driving out there I told her, 'Haille, I think Atticus' threats are more against you than against your family. I think he's going to hurt you.'"

That's when Haille told Ron about the May 13 incident that had frozen her in fear ever since. Haille told Ron how Atticus had pinned her on the ground and had gone through the terrifying motions of his pretend killing. And of the terrifying words he had whispered into her ear.

Ron was dead serious and carefully recalled the words he said next to Haille that day in the car. "I told Haille that it might be true that some people can just snap. But most of the time they're smart. They test their parameters until they're confident enough to do it." "I told her, 'He's going to kill you. He's building up to it.'"

Haille told Ron about the police officer, too, how upset she was that he wouldn't help her or give her a restraining order. Ron asked Haille if she wanted him to talk to Atticus. Haille said 'no'. "I wish she would have allowed me to." said Ron

On the same day, May 18, Haille's aunt Gloria who lives on the outskirts of Cloverdale received a set of phone calls from Atticus that so frightened her, she, herself, picked up the phone and called the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. Gloria told the Sheriff's dispatcher that she had just received calls from Atticus Reynolds. She said that Atticus had called and said in disturbing tones, "It's going to be a long hot summer." Gloria felt this was Atticus' way of saying he was going to burn her house down. She told the dispatcher that Atticus had then hung up and called back again, this time saying, "I want to know if you're god-fearing."

The dispatcher ended the call saying she was sending an officer out to take the report. But, according to Gloria, the dispatcher soon called her back and said that an officer was right then out at Atticus' mother's home serving Atticus with a restraining order (regarding a previous girlfriend). The existence of a restraining order meant that a judge had recently found cause of Atticus' violence or threats of violence. This new knowledge should have heightened the dispatcher's efforts to have an officer go out and take a full report from Gloria. Instead, it seems to have reduced it.

When the dispatcher called Gloria back to tell her about the officer delivering the restraining order, she asked Gloria if she really felt she needed a deputy to come out to take a report, or if she wanted to make the report by phone. Gloria told the dispatcher that a telephone report would be ok. Gloria told the dispatcher that even though he hadn't said so directly, she understood Atticus' statement to be a threat to burn down her house. She just wanted to be sure that there was a report, she said.

No one at Sonoma County Sheriff's Department wrote an incident report on Gloria's call. And the notes made by the dispatcher minimize Gloria's complaint as 'suspicious calls', with no mention of Gloria's express concern that it was a threat by Atticus to burn down her home. Nor does it appear that the dispatcher bothered to look at her own department's records under Atticus name, available at the tap of the computer. If she had, she would have seen that her own department had arrested Atticus just seven months before as a suspect in a felony arson case.

That October 2004 arson case involved a house just outside Cloverdale that was burned to the ground. It was determined that the fire was intentionally set. No one was ever convicted of the crime. Many in Cloverdale feel that that felony arson investigation against Atticus was also allowed to slip away.

In many ways Haille's death was 'the death of a thousand cuts' - a thousand official short cuts - each one serving more to protect the system from Atticus' victims, than to protect the people from Atticus.

As Clear as a Clarion Song

Most of the criminal system's stonewalling against women's needs is camouflaged under cover of omissions and slights of hand. But there's at least one official who flaunts it. As with too many women before, in early May, 2005, Haille's life fell into and out of his hands.

In a July 13, 2005 Press Democrat article, two term Mendocino County District Attorney Norm Vroman announced his plans to run for Mendocino County superior court judge. The campaign, Vroman is quoted as saying with his usual self-centered bluster, will be "a personal referendum on Norm Vroman".

Dubbed "Mendocino Man" for his broadly popular pro-gun, pro-pot stands, neither Vroman nor the article make mention of his bitter run-ins over the years with crime victims and their advocates. The article doesn't mention the time Vroman asked a judge to suspend prison sentence for a man convicted of his 11th drunk driving offense. Nor of the domestic violence homicide of Jackie Anderson following his office's smug disregard of the perpetrator's escalating violence, nor of Vroman's long trail of public statements scoffing at the very idea that domestic violence should be treated as crime. At times, Vroman's statements on the subject have been so reckless that even local police began publicly voicing their concern in the press.

Sadly, even thinking people in Mendocino County have chalked this all up to unfortunate collateral damage for having a DA who gives stellar representation of their rural libertarian views. They fail to see how even prudent adherence to these laissez faire ideals abandons women and children to the law of the jungle. And they seem completely oblivious to Vroman's hypocritical application when it comes to females. The same 'Mendocino Man', who says couples with domestic violence problems should be left to work things out on their own, charged three schoolgirls, ages 7, 8, and 9, with attempted murder when they put gopher pellets in a classmates' sandwich.

The July 13 article didn't mention that episode either, nor a host of others like it. Not surprisingly, the article also didn't mention the catastrophic role of the Mendocino District Attorney's Office in the murder of Jasa 'Haille' Anguillo.

At the end of April 2005, Atticus was arrested and jailed in Mendocino County by a CHP officer for resisting arrest. Quickly released from jail on that arrest, Atticus was arrested again days later, this time by the Mendocino Sheriff's Department. On April 29, the Mendocino District Attorney charged Atticus with a felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, along with four drug and vehicle misdemeanors. The district attorney also charged Atticus for a violation of probation. On May 3, the district attorney charged Atticus with an additional misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest on the earlier offense.

We don't know the details of these crimes. The cases aren't yet adjudicate, and as such, the files aren't available to the public.

What we do know is that despite these three new cases - the resisting arrest, the violation of probation, and, in particular, the felony assault with a deadly weapon, despite Atticus being on probation in two counties, and despite Atticus' long record of utter disregard for the law, the deputy district attorney did not secure an order that Atticus be held on a no-bail hold. Remember, being on probation means that having been earlier convicted of a crime, any new infraction gives law enforcement the authority to put the suspect on a no-bail hold. It was the district attorney's job to argue on behalf of the public's safety for that no-bail hold, and it was the judge's job to carry it out.

Astoundingly, on May 12, 2005, Atticus was allowed to bail out of jail. The next day, flush with another official green light to carry on as before, Atticus attacked Haille in the pretend killing by the creek. Ten days after that, he strangled her to death. It's a sequence of events that chillingly echos the events leading up to the domestic violence homicide of Ukiah mother, Jackie Anderson in 1999 when Vroman first came into office. (see Jackie's Life, A Courtroom Joke) Despite the high-profile women's criticism of Vroman in that and other cases, it appears the district attorney hasn't learned a thing, or worse, he doesn't care.

Lest you think that this is just the kind of hapless, bad luck set of circumstances that are bound to befall any district attorney now and again, please look carefully at what happens next.

On May 22, 2005, Atticus Reynold's was arrested and jailed by a Mendocino Sheriff's deputy for the murder of Haille. Ignore for a moment that the deputy, who also had easy access to Atticus' records and probation status, did not book Atticus on a no-bail hold.

Look instead at May 24, when the Mendocino deputy district attorney went into court on Atticus' case, with Atticus file of murder and mayhem in his hand, that deputy district attorney still did not secure a no-bail hold. For three days following Haille's murder, Atticus was given eligibility to make bail and walk back out on the streets.

It was late afternoon on May 25, when Haille's family first came to us. Not surprisingly, the family was overwhelmed in an abyss of loss. But on top of the pain, the family was also gripped with terror, terror that Atticus would bail out any minute and make good on the many threats he'd made against Haille's family members and friends.

We scrambled to get hold of the Mendocino deputy district attorney assigned to the case before 5 pm. How, we asked, could you have let Atticus be given a bail schedule? He's on probation in two counties! The deputy DA said he knew that. Why,then, don't you have him on a no-bail hold? There's no excuse! The family's terrified, and with good reason. You have to go into court and get Atticus on a no-bail hold.

The next morning, finally, on May 26, it was done. The deputy DA simply went into court and asked that Atticus be held on a no-bail hold. It had been that easy all along.

If your district attorney doesn't reflexively secure the maximum public safety from an Atticus Reynolds following murder and mayhem and all else on his record, please, dear people of Mendocino County, stop and think if you want Norm Vroman to be the judge when your daughter's abuser is brought into court.

So Many Innocent Victims

On the morning of May 22, Haille was looking forward to spending some time with her sister who was coming up from Santa Cruz. But first, she told her sister in a phone call that morning, she had to get the car from Atticus. Atticus, had somehow communicated to Haille the words that Haille had always wanted to hear. Atticus had told Haille that he was going to check himself into Oakcrest mental hospital. He was finally going to get some help. Then Atticus sweetened the deal even more. Atticus told Haille that before he went into Oakcrest, he wanted to meet her and turn his car over to her. Haille's car had recently broken down. Having Atticus' car would be a big help, indeed.

But Haille still wasn't about to take any chances. She asked her friend Adam to come with her. Adam agreed. And the two set off in Adam's car to meet Atticus at a prearranged street in Cloverdale. Haille got into Atticus' parked car and began to go through the paperwork. It wasn't long before they got into a prolonged and heated argument. Adam was young, like Haille. He decided to give them some space. He went down the street a ways with his car and waited. When he figured he'd given them enough time, Adam turned around and came back. When he returned, Haille, Atticus, and Atticus' car were gone.

A homicide has so many victims. Especially in a small town. Even more so in a domestic violence homicide where the lives of victim and perpetrator, families and friends, are so tightly intertwined. Wounds are deeper still when the victim and her friends are so young.

Most people are unaware that the primary age range for domestic violence victims is between 16 and 24 years-of-age. (The perpetrators average about ten years older.)

16 to 24 years-of-age means that both the victim and her friends still don't have the experience to smoothly navigate even healthy relationships, let alone respond effectively when there's abuse. The perpetrators, of course, are fully aware of this and target the age group with ease.

16 to 24 years-of-age also means that the more difficult situation a youngster finds herself in, the less likely she is to turn to a parent or parent figure for help. 'Tween agers' are passionately engaged in leaving childhood dependencies behind. The very last thing they want to do is let their parents know they can't handle it on their own - especially someone like Haille who took so much pride in her self-reliance.

Even understanding all this, Haille's friends and family are left agonizing, impaled on painfully replaying 'what ifs' and waging solitary battles with guilt. What could I have done differently? Would Haille be alive if I didn't leave them arguing in the car? If I'd gotten more in her face? If I'd threatened Atticus? Gotten Haille information on domestic violence? Taken her out of Cloverdale?

It's very unlikely any of this would have changed the ultimate outcome. Atticus had his maniacal mind and unrestrained criminality set on killing Haille for at least the last week and a half, and probably more. In fact, like so many men who kill the women in their lives, Atticus probably set his mind on killing Haille the day he realized she was leaving him for sure.

Even if friends and family had been able to interrupt Atticus deadly trajectory at one point or another, is there any doubt that Atticus would have just come back around from another angle another day? The only reasonable thing certain to have stopped Atticus was to have him removed from the streets and locked solidly, long term, in jail.

But let's look at the hypothetical anyway. In the weeks before the murder, for example, Haille's friends could have recognized the signs indicating the very real risk of homicide. Atticus, in fact, didn't have just one of the top five risk factors for domestic violence homicide, he had all five of them - though it's unlikely any one person was aware of them all. According to the US Dept. of Justice, those top five risk factors are - a history of use of a weapon (Atticus had this history with another victim.), verbal threats to kill or maim, strangulation, constant or violent jealously, and sexual violence (another victim).

Once recognizing the risk, friends could have had Haille write up a statement, accompany her to police, make sure the police properly entered the statement into an appropriately charged crime case. Effectively pressured the chief or the city council when the case wasn't thoroughly investigated. Then followed the case to the district attorney's office, made sure it was properly charged there, effectively pressured the district attorney to counteract the DA's tendency to let these cases slip-slide away at every step of the way. So too with watch-dogging the judges, probation officers, jailers, and all the other powerful players who must be collectively, aggressively pursuing domestic violence cases to assure a victim's safety - and who are not.

Clearly, it would be a very rare young person who could muscle the system to make it perform on Haille's behalf. Rare is the adult who could do it either.

What about victim advocates and victim services? Couldn't Haille's friends have connected her to these services? Yes, they could have. But it's unlikely that would have helped either. In the first place, victim service providers have never had any official powers in the criminal justice system. And over the last few years, victim services have become almost completely embedded under the auspices and control of the criminal justice system. The advantage, perhaps, is that more victims get connected to services like counseling and accompaniment. The disaster is that these service providers are in a weaker position than ever to fight for women's rights from within the same system that now signs their paychecks or controls their place of work.

And what about Haille herself? Though every one we talked with was pained by the wrong done to Haille, persistent old myths about domestic violence percolated into people's efforts to understand.

"These young women have to learn to get away from these guys". But Haille did break up, and did get away from Atticus. That's why Atticus killed her. Because she had the audacity to get away from him. In fact, most domestic violence homicides occur precisely when the women do take serious steps to leave. That's why the question so often asked of domestic violence victims is so cruel. Why doesn't she just leave? Answer: Because the violence almost always escalates. Because that's when he's most likely to kill. And if you stop to think about it a little more, in intimate relationships there really is no such thing as leaving, since the perpetrator knows everywhere she might go, and everyone she might lean on for help.

"Haille shouldn't have gone to get Atticus' car." Nope, Haille shouldn't have gone to get the car. - But she's young. Atticus knew exactly what to say to trick her. Haille tried to protect herself by taking Adam. Adam was young, too. But even if Haille hadn't met Atticus to get the car that day, do you really believe that would have put an end to his hunt to kill her?

"Haille and Atticus used drugs." - Haille, more or less, depending on who you talk to. (Haille had no criminal record of any kind.) Drugs are not the cause of domestic violence. Drugs may play a part. But stopping the drug or alcohol use usually doesn't stop the domestic violence. Or consider this. Illicit drug use by the perpetrator is far down at number ten on the Dept. of Justice risk factors for domestic violence homicide. Domestic violence is not caused by drugs; it's caused by narcissistic male sexism.

"Haille should have gone to a shelter." Or "left town". Anyone who goes into a shelter has to come out. Time permitted in a shelter is measured in weeks. There's an outside possibility that time would have broken Atticus' stride. But it's not likely. Another ex-girlfriend, following her breakup with Atticus, has continued to have problems with Atticus for years.

As for leaving town, the problem is that any measure of safety gained by the distance, can be more than offset by a new and very real danger of the victim becoming acutely isolated from her support system. With no one around to turn to on a moment's notice, with no friendly eyes and ears to keep a watch on the perpetrators moves and moods, with no friends' homes to run to, a victim who leaves town can find herself to be more of a sitting duck than if she remains in the midst of friends.

In short, escaping domestic violence is much more complex and dangerous than the easy clichés would make it appear. The only thing certain to protect the victim, is for the perpetrator, not the victim, to be completely removed from the picture.

Put yourself in Haille's place. What would you do if someone were hunting you down to kill you? There's really only one thing to do, only one thing that really makes any sense. Go to the police for help. Haille did that, and the police refused. One of Haille's young friends from Sebastopol probably said it best. "What do we pay our taxes for? Isn't it so that they weed these people out?"

The Meaningless Processing of Cases

In the United States, in the last 15 years, the reduction in the rate of domestic violence homicides of females is less than the reduction in the rate of homicides overall. This, despite the billions of dollars that have poured into law enforcement and communities for dealing with domestic violence. And despite the fact that domestic violence homicides are considered the most preventable of all homicides.

Unlike a robbery or a drug deal gone bad, domestic violence homicides don't happen out of the blue. The abuse and violence in the relationship usually develops slowly over time. There are almost always flare ups and cries for help along the way. A number of studies around the country, most notably in San Diego and Quincy, MA, have demonstrated that strong, thorough law enforcement response at these times is the one - and only - remedy proven to dramatically reduce the rate of domestic violence homicides.

So far in this report we've focused on missed opportunities in the last six weeks of Haille's life. Though these events may be the most dramatic because of their proximity to the murder, there are other events going back a few years that are just as troubling, or even more so. We mention here just two of these events that should have alerted authorities to Atticus' particular danger to women, events which were instead given the usual short shrift and disregard.

  • In 2001, a former girlfriend of Atticus reported multiple rapes, beatings, and stranglings by Atticus to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department. This is probably the most serious allegation made against Atticus in the last five years before the murder. - in terms of the sentence that would have been handed down had Atticus been convicted, in terms of the trauma to the victim, and as an alarming indicator of Atticus' danger to women in general. According to the US Department of Justice, both the sexual violence and strangulation in a relationship are two of the top five indicators of a perpetrator's future domestic violence homicide.

    Yet, according to the victim, in the course of the investigation the detective never attempted a pretext phone call, using either the victim or any other person who knew the suspect. Pretext phone calls (scripted calls made by the victim to the perpetrator and taped by police) are the standard for rape investigations where the victim and suspect know each other. They frequently result in producing evidence that definitively wraps up the case. Failing to utilize this investigative technique was equivalent to giving up on the case before giving it half a chance. In addition, this case was never sent to the district attorney's office for review.

  • In April 2004, the same victim reported threats from Atticus and that he violated a domestic violence restraining order. In addition, the district attorney was given ample written information at that time about Atticus' history of rapes and physical assaults. In April, 2004, Sonoma County District Attorney filed one count of violating a restraining order against Atticus. The case moved through a couple hearings and was then dismissed by the district attorney.

If the district attorney felt there was enough evidence to file the case in the first place, why then did he dismiss it two months later? We don't know the answer in this particular case, though we do know the victim was cooperating. But from what we've seen all too often in these cases, unless the defendant makes it easy on the district attorney by pleading guilty (Atticus did not), the district attorney just saves himself the trouble of having to work the case, rolls over, and dismisses the case. There's not much safety for women in this strategy.

We also know that Sonoma County DA Stephen Passalacqua has not improved one iota on the domestic violence prosecution rate - at 42% - of his predecessor. If you remember, Passalacqua's predecessor, Mike Mullins was ousted from office in part because he had one of the lowest domestic violence prosecution rates in the state. We also know that the total Victim Assistance monies distributed to crime victims in Sonoma County, under Passalacqua's supervision, dropped by more than 60% from year 2003 to 2004.

The huge state and federal monies poured into domestic violence have produced a lot of high sounding rhetoric and budget heavy programs that lull the public into a false sense of security that the problem has been solved. But, in fact, precious little of the criminal justice system's immense powers ever really get exercised on the victim's behalf. And the violence against women rages on.

In 2002, the Washington State Domestic Violence Death Review Team aptly named this phenomena the "Meaningless Processing of Cases'.

In 2002, the Washington State Team published their review of 77 domestic violence homicides. What they found as a common forerunner in many of the homicides was that the perpetrators of violence against women were moved through the system of police and courts - again and again and again - without the system every really implementing it's powers against the perpetrators, until the perpetrators finally escalated to murder.

This 'meaningless processing of cases' is a pretty good summation of how our local law enforcement agencies - police, prosecutors, judges, jailers, probation officers, and family courts, alike, handled Atticus Reynolds. In case after case after case, the system never implemented any of the real power needed to contain Atticus' behaviors, to protect the community, and to prevent the murder of Jasa 'Haille' Anguillo.

Haille's Story Part 3

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