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Cross Marks Exact Spot Where Woman Was Raped

'Bus Stop Rapist' Case Closed

22 years of living in fear are now over for one victim's family

September 12, 2003 -- For 22 years, Suzanne Johnston didn't know who strangled her mother in a Seattle hotel room, living with a quiet fear that the same killer might come for her. So yesterday brought both heartache and relief as a judge gave Bryan Gelenaw -- nabbed recently by detective work and DNA science -- a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

Gelenaw, who was known in 1981 as Everett's "bus stop rapist," pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing 25-year-old Angelita Axelson that same year.

"I know I can rest and not be afraid anymore, because I know who killed my mother," said Johnston, now 30, who lives in Boise, Idaho. "We all love her and miss her very much." She was just 8 and being raised by an adoptive family when her biological mother was found dead June 18, 1981, in Room 316 at the Ethelton Hotel on Third Avenue. Yesterday, she got her first look at Gelenaw, calling him "the man who broke my heart and many others."

But the relatives of Axelson, a red-haired office worker whom everyone called Angie, appreciated Gelenaw's prompt confession when police confronted him several weeks ago with the new evidence.

Defense attorney Byron Ward said Gelenaw, who was already locked up in a state prison in Monroe, "knew the family was entitled to know what happened."

He said Gelenaw, now 53, has also had a tough time dealing with what he did. The rapist and murderer listened to Axelson's family in court, occasionally lifting his tattooed arms to rub weary-looking eyes. Given the chance to speak, he told his lawyer he wanted to but didn't think he could. Gelenaw later fought tears and grappled for words as he tried to apologize. Deputy Prosecutor Steve Fogg said Gelenaw's willingness to admit what he did and his obvious remorse are rare.

Gelenaw took the unusual step of pleading guilty and agreeing to be sentenced at his first court appearance, avoiding future court hearings and a trial. But he already had little hope of ever walking free again. Even before yesterday's sentencing, he was serving six life sentences for the series of Snohomish County rapes in the first few months of 1981. Back then, police had begun closing in on him, so he headed south.

He apparently met Axelson at a Seattle bar while on his way to California, invited her to his hotel room, then raped and strangled her. A few years ago, Axelson's boyfriend at the time, Robert Pinter, called police to ask what happened to the unsolved crime.

Seattle police "Cold Case" Detectives Gregg Mixsell and Richard Gagnon, who have been working their way through hundreds of unsolved slayings dating back more than 30 years, had DNA from Axelson's body tested. It matched Gelenaw's. The detectives have used DNA evidence to find suspects in many cases, and charges have been filed against more than a dozen so far.

Pinter hopes science will continue to help victims' families who have lived for years or decades without answers. He told the judge yesterday that he no longer has to worry that someone he knows took Axelson's life -- or that people are wondering if he did it. "But it is a sad day," he said. "There is no happy ending." -- Edited from the article by Tracy Johnson in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Gregg Mixsell and Richard Gagnon have also closed the cold case of 13-year-old Kristen Sumstad, who was raped and strangled in 1982. In an ingenious ruse, John Nicholas Athan, a suspect who was 14 years old at the time of the murder, was sent an official-looking letter about a class-action lawsuit on behalf of people who had been overcharged on parking tickets. If he wanted to take part in the case, he was told, he had to sign and return the enclosed form. He licked the self-addressed envelope, sent it back -- and gave detectives the DNA sample they needed to solve the 21-year-old case: (1) (2)

The 'cold case' detectives' efforts were also instrumental in closing the 1993 murder case of punk-rock singer Mia Zapata. DNA evidence from saliva on Zapata's body tied Jesus Mezquia, 48, to her slaying. Mezquia, a Cuban native who lives in the Florida Keys, was arrested in Miami on January 10, 2003. (1) (2)

Air Force Cadet Will Face Court Martial

July 3, 2003 DENVER -- An Air Force Academy sophomore will be the first to face a court-martial on rape charges since a sexual assault scandal broke at the academy earlier this year. Douglas Meester, 20, is charged with rape, sodomy, indecent assault and providing alcohol to minors. If convicted at a military trial, he could face life in prison and dismissal from the Air Force.

The decision to court-martial Meester was made by Brig. Gen. John Weida, who became cadet commandant earlier this year in a management shakeup that stemmed from the scandal. Weida rejected the recommendation of the investigating officer who presided over Meester's Article 32 hearing in May; that officer had recommended administrative punishment instead. No date has been set for the court-martial.

Defense attorney Capt. Kathleen Reder said Meester has several options, including asking the secretary of the Air Force to approve his resignation instead of a court-martial. Reder said she may ask the judge to move the court-martial away from the academy near Colorado Springs and she suggested Meester is being treated differently than he would be had there been no scandal.

Weida did not return a call seeking comment. However, Reder said commanding officers rarely go against investigating officers' recommendations in such cases.

During the May hearing, an 18-year-old freshman cadet from Pennsylvania testified that on Oct. 18, she drank at least six shots of tequila with Meester and two other cadets in his dorm room. She said she passed out and awoke as Meester raped her, and that she drifted in and out of consciousness.

Defense attorneys argued the woman never told Meester to stop and did not resist him. Both cadets were found to have blood-alcohol levels almost double the legal limit for driving.

The fact that Meester will face court-martial rather than administrative punishment suggests the academy is on the right track in addressing its problems, said Kate Summers of the nonprofit Miles Foundation, which helps victims of violence in the military.

The Air Force, Defense Department and an independent task force have been investigating of dozens of alleged sexual assaults at the academy since reports surfaced in February that women who reported being sexually assaulted were punished or ignored. The academy's top commanders have since been replaced.

"I would say it is a first step in providing accountability," Summers said. "This will hopefully precipitate system accountability for leadership which may not have responded in a timely fashion to charges previously."

She said she was concerned a plea bargain could reduce the charges to something relatively mild such as conduct unbecoming. She also said her group still is concerned with the academy's treatment of alleged victims.

A representative for Senator Wayne Allard, R-Colorado, who called for an investigation after his office received complaints from dozens of female cadets, also said the decision was a promising sign.

"From the beginning, Sen. Allard's been concerned that there was no process, at times, being followed on cases such as this," spokesman Dick Wadhams said. "That's what needs to happen, the judicial process needs to be executed regardless of the outcome." -- Edited from the full article at

Prostitution Ring Broken, Police Say

Chinese women lured to Austin to become sex slaves, officials say

Austin TX, June 20, 2003 -- Police announced Thursday that they had broken up a local prostitution ring that was luring unsuspecting Chinese women to Austin and turning them into indentured sex slaves.

The ring, they said, was part of a massive nationwide network of brothels that has ties to organized crime in China. Officials say the group lures women from Southern China to the US with the promise of getting them jobs. Once the women arrive, they are held captive until they have worked off the cost of their passage, which police said the captors set at between $50,000 and $60,000.

Two people who police say were organizers of the Austin branch of the organization were both arrested Thursday, and the women have been placed in police custody.

Zhiming Ji, 51, was charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution, and 27-year-old Liya Ding was charged with engaging in organized criminal activity. Police accused Ji and Ding of running six brothels here and holding women against their will after they were smuggled into the US. All six brothels, located in Northwest and North Central Austin, have been shut down, police said.

Austin Police Cmdr. Howard Williams said that the Chinese women were not allowed to leave the brothels unsupervised and were told that their relatives in China would be punished if they did not obey their captors. Authorities said they were working through a translator to gather more information.

Police think the smuggling ring has other points in Houston and New York and is operating around the country. Williams said the people running the operation are also laundering money to be sent back to China. Investigators from the IRS and from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly INS) are also working on the case. It is believed that the national organization still has powerful ringleaders whom they hope to find.

This is the second time this year that Austin police have arrested someone charged with smuggling women into Texas and using them as sex slaves.

In May, police arrested Maricela Uresti Martinez, who was accused of smuggling teenage girls from Mexico into Austin, where police said she forced them into prostitution at a North Austin duplex. Martinez was charged with compelling prostitution, a second-degree felony.

Austin police don't know how long Ji and Ding ran the prostitution ring, but began investigating several months ago after receiving complaints from nearby residents. They worked for months, staking out the various suspected brothels and gathering about 40 sworn depositions from men they found walking out of the homes.

Those men are not expected to be prosecuted, because authorities said they are more interested in arresting the leaders of the organization, and the cooperation of their clients is imperative. Also imperative are the testimonies of six women who were held captive by Ji and Ding. Williams said police didn't want to charge the women.

The brothels were at 6600 Danwood Drive, 9617 Great Hills Trail, 5200 N. Lamar Blvd., 1108 W. Koenig Lane and 4415 Avenue A, court records say. A sixth location was not listed in records, and police did not say where it is. -- Edited from the article at Austin American-Statesman

Page Contents:
  • 'Bus Stop Rapist' Case Closed
  • The Asian Prostitution 'Recruitment' Problem
  • Accused Molester Jumps to Death on Train Tracks
  • Papers on Dead Suspect Sent to Prosecutors
  • Air Force Cadet Will Face Court Martial
  • Texas Prostitution Ring Broken
  • Child Sex Abuse Facts
  • Criminal Minds Crime and Court News Index

Stopping Child Sexual Exploitation

Poster courtesy Child Find Alberta

Working Together to Stop the Prostitution of Children: Videoconference

UNICEF Action Alert: Sexual Exploitation of Children

1999 BBC Article: "Child prostitution linked to abuse and drugs"

Sexual Tourism: "How old do these girls look to you?"

The Asian Prostitution 'Recruitment' Problem

In Thailand, a Struggle to Halt Human Trafficking

28 August, 2003 CHIANG MAI, THAILAND -- When investigators raided one of this provincial capital's back-street brothels searching for women and children trafficked from neighboring Burma, weeks of surveillance and covert visits paid off. Six of the 29 women rescued were minors, and more than half had been coerced into their work. But not everyone was relieved.

Local migrant advocacy groups say the Chiang Mai raid, like other actions taken against human trafficking, had netted Burmese women voluntarily engaged in prostitution. Now, they say, those women may be worse off than before.

These groups accuse the US-funded anti-trafficking task force that led the raid of steamrolling women's rights and treating all sex workers as victims. As concern mounts over the global scale of human trafficking, which the State Department has called "the emerging human rights issue of the 21st century," the US and other wealthy nations are lending more support to anti-trafficking initiatives in countries like Thailand. But the increasing friction between these US- sponsored task forces and the local groups they rely on for information could make it harder for them to root out abuses.

The State Department defines human trafficking as modern-day slavery with victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. According to their figures, the US has spent more than $100 million on overseas anti-trafficking aid since October 2000, when Congress first passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. They estimate that 800,000 to 900,000 people are trafficked annually across international borders - numbers disputed by outside researchers. The United Nation Children's Fund says one-third of global trafficking in women and children happens in Southeast Asia.

But researchers and field workers who know Thailand's entrenched sex industry say that cases of outright slavery, where women are sold into bondage and forced to work, are dwarfed by desperate stories of poverty and exploitation. Many are more wary of the gung-ho brothel busts that land women in detention than of the traffickers who profit from the trade.

Thailand's handling of migrant women caught in trafficking raids has improved in recent years. The women, typically from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and southern China, are no longer treated as criminals or deported through normal channels. All 29 women rescued in Chiang Mai were transferred to a government-run shelter, and many have since been repatriated to Burma via a private network. That's little comfort, though, to those who never wanted to be rescued in the first place. -- Excerpted; see the full article by Simon Montlake in the Christian Science Monitor

Accused Molester Jumps to Death on Train Tracks

September 12, 2003 TOKYO -- A man being taken away by railway officials after a woman commuter accused him of molesting her jumped onto the tracks at Tokyo's Ueno Station and was struck by a train and killed instantly Friday, the police said. The police identified him as a 32-yea-old unemployed man from Tokyo's Adachi Ward.

The incident occurred at 6:20 a.m. and caused delays for thousands of commuters for more than an hour on the JR Yamanote Line. The Yamanote Line, which circles central Tokyo, was suspended for about 70 minutes, with 12 trains canceled during the morning rush hour.

Two railway employees were bringing the man to the station office when he suddenly jumped onto the tracks from the No. 3 platform. He headed toward the No. 2 platform on the opposite side but was hit by an incoming Yamanote Line train, the police said.

Three male passengers on the train had held the man down after the woman called out for help just before the train arrived at Ueno Station, according to the police. Investigators from the Metropolitan Police Department said they are investigating whether it was a case of suicide or an accident.

-- Edited from the article at Japan Today/Kyodo News

Papers on Dead Suspect Sent to Prosecutors

September 6, 2003 TOKYO -- Police turned over papers to prosecutors Friday on a 29-year-old man who committed suicide after allegedly luring and confining four girls in a Tokyo apartment, the police said.

Investigators allege Kotaro Yoshisato recruited the girls, all 12, in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on July 13, saying he needed them for part-time jobs to clean offices, and then confined them in a short-term lease apartment in Minato Ward. -- Kyodo News

Public Opinion Toward Adolescent Sex Offenders
Source: DiNatale and Hock Reseach, 1998

Child Sex Abuse Facts
While parents are responsible for most physical abuse and neglect of children, studies show that more than half of the sexually abused boys, and 15-25% of the sexually abused girls, are abused by older youth. At any given time, of 12,000 children in foster care in Massachusetts, about 1500 act out in sexually aggressive ways. Without specialized mental health treatment, these children are at high risk of sexually offending later in their lives. -- Massachusetts Citizens for Children

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