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  1. #1
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    WA - Alice Hummel, 46, Bellingham, Oct 1990

    Seventeen years after a mother of three disappeared without a trace, authorities are considering charging her husband with her murder.

    When Alice Hummel vanished from her Alabama Hill home in October 1990, Bruce Hummel told the coupleís children their mother had left them for California or Texas in search of work.

    The kids received correspondence from their mother for years afterward, including birthday cards and possibly wedding presents. But when Alice Hummelís father died a decade later and the children tried to find their mother to let her know, Bruce Hummelís story began falling apart.

    Bellingham Police detective Glenn Hutchings said his department has wrapped up a six-year investigation into the disappearance and has forwarded the case to Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran, who will decide whether there is enough evidence to charge Bruce Hummel with the murder of his wife.

    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/102/story/257737.html

  2. #2
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    http://www.katu.com/news/weird/43145987.html

    Apr 17, 2009

    Prosecutors say a little bit of spit on an old letter could help prove an 18-year-old Bellingham, Wash., murder case.

    Bruce Hummel is accused of killing his wife, Alice, in October 1990. After she disappeared, Hummel told their children she had simply run off, and the children didn't report her missing for more than a decade.

    Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran says Hummel sent relatives a letter in the mid-1990s purporting to be from his missing wife, to make them believe she was still alive. The prosecutor wrote in court papers this week that detectives tracked down the letter and plan to analyze DNA taken from the stamp and the envelope to prove that Bruce Hummel - not Alice - sent it.
    A lot more at the link
    "Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." ~ Henry James

  3. #3
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    Bump

    Next month will mark 20 years that Alice has been missing. Come home soon.

  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    There's a lot more information in Alice's Charley Project page... Her 12 year old daughter told Alice that her father had been sexually abusing her. Alice said it would never happen again. A few days later, Alice disappeared for good - and Bruce continued to abuse his daughter

    http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/h/hummel_alice.html

  6. #6
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    2007 article:

    In 2001, the two women -- sharing suspicions about the circumstances of their mother's disappearance -- filed a missing-persons report with Bellingham police. They told investigators what they could remember:

    Dad did some work on the foundation around the time she vanished.

    They remembered receiving correspondence purportedly from their mother years after she left; the older daughter thought she'd received a wedding gift from her.

    And this: A few days before Mom left, the younger daughter had told her mother that Dad had been "touching me." Their mother said she would make sure it never happened again...

    The only trace of her existence since 1990 was that her $1,500 monthly disability payments continued to wind up in Bruce Hummel's bank accounts.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec.../adna-longlie9

  7. #7
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    2008 article:

    Detectives say Hummel told his children their mom had abandoned them, sent them gifts purporting to be from her and, only after being questioned by police years later, wrote them a rambling, implausible letter acknowledging she had been dead all along.

    He also continued to cash her disability benefits from the Alaska Teachers Retirement System -- for which he is serving a 27-month federal prison sentence -- and led police on a yearslong cat-and-mouse game that ended last year in Westport, a small fishing village on Washington's coast.

    There, the 66-year-old Hummel tutored children at a low-income housing complex, drove senior citizens to doctor appointments and starred as the killer in a dinner mystery put on by a local theater group, the Grayland Players...

    Hummel fled after being questioned by police and made his way to Westport. Police found him there after he registered his van to a P.O. box; he pleaded guilty last year to stealing the disability payments.

    While on the run, Hummel wrote a letter to investigators claiming his wife slit her wrists in the bathroom of their home. He insisted he disposed of her body by towing it in a makeshift raft into Bellingham Bay, and that he invented the story that she had run off to keep the children from learning she had killed herself...

    Wellingham Detective Glenn Hutchings said there's no way Hummel could have handled his wife's corpse as he described; there was no wind on Bellingham Bay that night, and there was no trace of blood in the bathroom when detectives processed it for evidence.

    Neither cadaver-sniffing dogs nor ground-penetrating radar turned up any indication of a body buried on the Bellingham property, McEachran said.

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/...55525927_x.htm
    Last edited by Rayemonde; 01-30-2017 at 06:18 PM.

  8. #8
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    2009 article:

    Bruce Hummel told his children his wife had gone to California for a job interview. He packaged up articles of clothing and personal items and told the children he was mailing them to Alice, whom he claimed would be gone for several months. Alice’s youngest daughter said she later found these items in their garbage and realized they had not been sent.

    During the years that followed, the family would receive occasional letters and other signs, purportedly from Alice. One typewritten letter postmarked from Texas claimed she did not want kids around and that the children would have to stay with their father. According to prosecutors, Bruce Hummel continued to have sexual contact with his youngest daughter.

    Hummel would eventually file for divorce in the state of Alaska, claiming abandonment; however, he continued to cash his wife’s pension checks from the Alaska teachers retirement fund...

    Federal investigators in 2004 searched the Billings, Mont., home of Hummel in their own investigation of the alleged fraud and theft of as much of $360,000 from the Alaska teachers retirement fund. Hummel admitted he’d forged the signature of his estranged wife and cashed her checks...

    “Honestly,” [Public Defender Jon] Komorowski said, “I don’t know how the prosecution intends to demonstrate the intent to commit homicide, or even prove conclusively that she is not still alive somewhere. Our motion essentially asks the prosecutor to tell us what information he has.

    “Let’s assume,” he said, “that she confronted Bruce about their daughter. Did she fall? Did he push her out of the way without intending to harm her? Without physical evidence their prosecution is going to be very difficult to prove.

    “What concerns our office,” Komorowski said, “is putting this guy who has molested his daughter and forged checks in front of a jury and having them infer that because he was capable of that, he must have done these other things for which there is no evidence.”

    http://www.cascadiaweekly.com/cw/currents/1777

  9. #9
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    2009 article:

    A Whatcom County Superior Court jury has convicted a 67-year-old former Bellingham man of first-degree murder in the October 1990 disappearance of his wife...

    The defense said the woman vanished after she decided to abandon her family....


    McEachran said the three Hummel children, now grown, are “extremely relieved” by the verdict.
    http://www.heraldnet.com/news/ex-bel...disappearance/

  10. #10
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    2009 article:

    Bruce Hummel was given a maximum sentence of 45 years in a state prison after refusing to reveal the location of his wife's remains.

    Hummel, 67, had been facing a sentence of 34 to 45 years in prison. Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran said he offered to recommend the minimum sentence if Hummel provided information leading to his wife's remains. Hummel declined, and McEachran recommended the maximum sentence.

    "It would have provided such a relief to the children to bury their mother," McEachran said...

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crim...#storylink=cpy


  11. #11
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    2012 article:

    A A former Bellingham man who had been sentenced to 45 years in prison for the murder of his wife has had his conviction reversed by the Court of Appeals because of jury selection errors at his trial...

    Nancy Collins of the Washington Appellate Project represented Hummel in appeal, arguing that Hummel's right to a public trial had been violated, and the Court of Appeals agreed. Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder allowed a number of jurors to be questioned in chambers because the case dealt with the issue of child molestation, and the appeals court said that was done without first weighing important factors established in case law.

    "The court did not engage in any meaningful review or balancing of the defendant's right to an impartial jury versus public trial rights," the opinion states.

    McEachran argued that private questioning of jurors is a gray area in state law that needs to be made clear. Collins disagreed and said that these type of violations and reversals are more common to Whatcom County than other areas.

    Several other Whatcom County cases have been sent back for retrial over the same jury questioning issue.

    Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news...#storylink=cpy

  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    2014 retrial:

    Days before the murder, McEachran said, Alice's youngest daughter had confided to her mother that Bruce Hummel had been molesting her since about the age of 3. She now believes her father killed Alice to keep her from going to the police about the molestation. That daughter, now an adult, took the witness stand Tuesday to once again recount the sexual abuse before a jury...

    By the time the investigation got underway, however, little physical evidence remained of what happened to Alice - a point Hummel's public defender, Angela Anderson, stressed in her opening statement.

    "There will be no proof," Anderson said, "of the how, what, when, where or why."

    There's no crime scene, she said, no weapon and no confirmed motive.

    "For full disclosure, my client's a liar," Anderson said. "He's a convicted felon. He's a child molester. But he's not a killer."
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news...#storylink=cpy

    2014 article:

    A Bellingham man convicted a second time for murdering his wife in 1990 - so he could collect her disability checks and keep molesting their daughter - showed no sign of remorse in a short speech before being sentenced to 26 years in prison Monday morning, June 16...

    Over the years, to keep up the charade that she was still alive, Mr. Hummel forged letters from "Mom" to the children. She'd met a man in Texas, the letters said, where she'd gotten a promotion and "didn't care enough" about the kids to return home, according to prosecutors. Meanwhile Hummel kept molesting his youngest daughter until she ran away.


    Police opened an investigation more than a decade later, after Hummel's two daughters came forward. They had finally told each other they'd both been sexually abused by their father...

    Later, he told his cellmate in jail he'd ground up pills into apple cider and given it to her to drink.

    Like in the first trial, McEachran said he offered to recommend a more lenient sentence, rather than the maximum, if Hummel would come clean and admit where he disposed of the body.

    But Hummel would not.

    Instead, given a chance to address the court Monday before his sentencing, he disputed the alleged motive for the murder. He said he didn't know that Alice knew about the molestation when she disappeared. Hummel also questioned Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder's impartiality and accused him of being too cozy with the prosecutor. During a brief break in the courtroom, Hummel said, they had been joking about the need for a second or even a third trial...

    Hummel had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of wire fraud in a U.S. District Court in Alaska in 2007, for the disability check fraud. That criminal history factored into his 45-year sentence from the first trial.

    But when the Court of Appeals reversed the murder conviction, the judges said those federal crimes shouldn't count because there was no comparable Washington state law in 1990 - a blatant oversight, McEachran argued, because that had been a major part of the first trial. And Snyder agreed that the convictions should count. But he said he can't supersede the Court of Appeals' ruling.

    So the judge handed down a 26-year, eight-month sentence, the maximum he could under the reduced sentencing range.
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news...e22232955.html
    Last edited by Rayemonde; 01-30-2017 at 06:48 PM.

  14. #14
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    October 2016:

    A Bellingham man’s murder conviction has been overturned by the state Court of Appeals for a second time on the grounds that the evidence didn’t prove the killing was premeditated.

    This time the case can’t go to trial again, the appeals court ruled Monday, Oct. 17...


    At the first trial in August 2009, a jail cellmate testified that Hummel confided that he had “helped Alice get to a better place” by mixing ground up pills with apple cider and giving it to her to drink...

    the case went to another trial, and the girls, now grown up, were called in to testify again. This time the state did not bring the “jailhouse snitch” witness to trial, because his testimony did not seem to add much, and the first jury did not put much stock in his testimony, said Dave McEachran, the prosecutor. McEachran does not believe that leaving that witness out of the second trial had any adverse effect on the case...


    “The evidence that Hummel disposed of her body, concealed her death, and fraudulently obtained her disability checks after she died is evidence of guilt,” the appellate judges wrote, “but does not prove premeditation.”

    At trial McEachran argued that Hummel must have lured his wife out of the house, because a 200-pound, 5-foot-10 man, like Hummel, could not have lifted his wife’s 200- to 250-pound body into his van. This would suggest that Hummel must have planned her death for at least a moment, all that is needed to count as premeditation.

    The appeals court ruling notes that Hummel could have found a way, for example, by wrapping her body in plastic and dragging her to the van, as Hummel claimed he had done to cover up the suicide...

    During the second trial Angela Anderson, the public defender, offered the jury a scenario that would, in theory, suggest the murder wasn’t premeditated: Mom waits several days to confront Hummel about the molestation, then confronts him on the day she disappears.

    “Let’s assume this,” Anderson argued, “in a rage (Hummel) kills her right then and there, and when the kids come home, mom is gone. If that is the way it happened, that’s murder in the second degree, because there’s no premeditation.”

    Murder in the second degree, however, had been taken off the table in an agreement before the second trial – a move that ended up working out for the defense, Anderson said Tuesday.

    McEachran said he did not ask the jury to consider convicting him of what is known as a “lesser included offense,” i.e., murder in the second degree, because the first Court of Appeals ruling agreed there was evidence to prove murder in the first degree. McEachran called it “bizarre” that a second group of judges, on the same court, disagreed and found there wasn’t enough evidence to prove premeditation.

    So as a result the Court of Appeals ruled that, because the prosecutor didn’t instruct the jury to consider the lesser crime, the judgment could not simply be reduced to murder in the second degree.

    “Reversal for insufficient evidence is ‘equivalent to an acquittal,’ and bars retrial for the same offense,” reads the appellate court’s ruling, in a paragraph citing the U.S. Supreme Court case Burks v. United States...

    The prosecutor plans to appeal to the state’s highest court. If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, the case will be sent back to Whatcom County, and dismissed with prejudice. That means the defendant would be a free man, and the case couldn’t be taken to trial a third time.

    In the meantime, Hummel will await the result of that appeal behind bars at a state prison in Monroe.
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news...109087842.html



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