Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A Washington state man was ordered held on $1 million bail yesterday after trying to plead guilty in the slayings of two convicted child molesters whose names he found on the local sheriff’s Web site.

Michael Anthony Mullen, 36, was assigned a standby attorney during a preliminary hearing yesterday. He initially refused the court’s offer of legal representation, and he even tried to plead guilty, although he has not been formally charged.

Prosecutors likely will file charges of either first-degree murder or aggravated murder against Mr. Mullen in the next 72 hours, said Max Setter, chief criminal deputy for the Whatcom County prosecuting attorney’s office in Bellingham, Wash.

“He indicated that he just wanted to get it over with and didn’t want an attorney,” Mr. Setter said.

During the hearing, Mr. Mullen also asked a court official, via closed-circuit television from jail, “Can I have a speedy trial?” and said “I would like to plead guilty.”

Mr. Mullen, 36, told authorities he was motivated by the case of Joseph Edward Duncan III, who is facing charges of murder and child abduction in Idaho.

“One possible reason was the case in Idaho,” said Bellingham Police Lt. Craig Ambrose, who added that authorities interviewed Mr. Mullen for several hours. “That came up a few times as part of his thing.”

Police said Mr. Mullen called 911 on Monday to confess to the Aug. 27 slayings of Hank Eisses, 49, and Victor Vasquez, 68, both convicted sex offenders who were sharing a house in Bellingham after serving time in jail.

Police arrested Mr. Mullen after he provided details that only the killer would know, such as the caliber of the weapon and that each man was shot once in the head, a department statement said.

“Mullen also said that he had planned the murders for some time and that on July 13, 2005, he had accessed the Whatcom County Sheriff’s sex-offender Web site, and from that selected at least one of the two victims,” the statement said.

The Web site gives the names, addresses and photos of Level III sex offenders, who are considered the most likely to offend again. Sex offenders are required to register with local authorities, and posting their names and whereabouts is a common practice for many law-enforcement agencies.

The Idaho case drew national attention to the risks associated with released sex offenders. Duncan, who has a history of child molestation, is accused of killing three persons in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, so he could kidnap two children, Shasta and Dylan Groene, for sex.

Duncan was captured July 2 at a Denny’s restaurant in Coeur d’Alene with 8-year-old Shasta. The body of her brother Dylan, 9, was found later in Montana.

The two men killed in Bellingham were released about two years ago after serving time for child molestation. Eisses was convicted in 1997 of raping a 13-year-old boy, and Vasquez was convicted in 1991 of molesting several relatives. Mr. Mullen mailed letters to several local press outlets threatening to kill sex offenders, police said.

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