Friday, August 10, 2012

Randol Pachl

Brian Hobson
Portland, Oregon’s Northeast Union Avenue has had more than its share of violent crime over the years, and as a result, has developed one of the worst reputations of any area in the city. And rightly so. Known by local residents as “Prostitute Row,” citizens are regularly robbed at gun-or-knife point, cars are frequently vandalized and stolen, homes are burglarized on a daily basis, and rapes of young women and girls occur almost nightly. In addition to having a hooker on virtually every corner, Union Avenue is a haven for junkies and drug pushers, many of whom are the prosti­tutes and pimps themselves. It is defi­nitely not the sort of neighborhood one dreams of raising their kids in, although many do because of limited choices, mainly financial, that are available to them.
But the aforementioned are the more harmless crimes that have gone on for years. More recently, however, things have gotten worse. During the past three years, hookers have literally been gunned down in the street in broad daylight, hon­est merchants have been slain in their places of business, and bodies have been found in dumpsters. In 1985, just before Christmas, a harmless bicyclist was knifed in cold blood as he rode toward home to his wife and kids after putting in an eight-hour shift at work.
Stanley Bruce Reed, 34, was a bicycle enthusiast. He rode as often as he could, particularly to and from work. He said that, in addition to just simply enjoying bicycling, it kept him in shape and saved him gas and parking expenses associated with operating a car. He didn’t like to spend money foolishly because he didn’t make much, and if he could find a way to cut corners, he did so, even if it was an inconvenience to him. He was not a self-indulgent man. Stanley cared too much about his family to think of himself first.
He worked the 3:00-to-11:30 swing shift as a security guard in the parking garage of a downtown Portland bank, occasionally chasing out vandals and making sure that bank customers and employees made it safely to and from their vehicles. In addition to being low-paying, the job was occasionally dangerous. However, in spite of the po­sition’s shortcomings, Stanley had kept it for more than a year so he could put food on the table and keep a roof over the family he loved so dearly.
Described as a gentle man by those who knew him, Stanley Reed believed in the family ethic. A regular churchgoer, he was convinced that having a family was the one way he could preserve his immortality on earth. Those who knew him also said he was a devoted man who could do anything for his wife and two lovely children, including working at jobs he felt were not a realization of his full potential.
His dedication didn’t stop at home. Although his job was a menial one, Stan­ley’s personnel records showed that he hadn’t missed a day of work at the bank since he’d been hired. The days prior to his death he had even asked to work some overtime so he could earn extra money to buy presents for his wife and kids. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see his dreams come true because of two men who robbed this decent, honest and hard-working man of his life.
On Thursday, December 5, 1985, at 11:30 p.m., Stanley punched out at his regular time, bade farewell as usual to his co-workers, climbed onto his bicycle and pedaled quietly toward home on a route that took him through one of the seamier sides of northeast Portland, a route he had taken many times before without ever running into problems. It was a cool, crisp evening as Stanley ped­aled along, his breath visible in the win­ter chill. Although it isn’t known for certain, testimony from witnesses indi­cated that he didn’t immediately notice the car following closely behind him. It is also likely that becoming a victim of violent crime was the farthest thing from his mind.
Stanley had a reputation for being punctual. The bicycle ride from down­town Portland to his home usually took about 30 minutes, so he should have been home by midnight. However, it wasn’t until about 12:30 a.m. that family members began to worry about his unu­sual tardiness. Still, after considering that perhaps he’d had to work late, they gave him the benefit of the doubt and waited another hour, even though it wasn’t like him not to call and inform his family he would be late. At 1:30 a.m. with still no sign or word from Stanley, a relative called the bank’s parking garage to verify that he’d gotten off work and had left for home. When the relative was told that Stanley had left at his usual time, the relative entered a state of “near panic.”
After notifying additional family members of the unusual and frightening circumstances, the relative called the ar­ea hospitals to see if a Stanley Reed had been admitted for one reason or another, but the admitting and emergency room staffs all said they had no one by that name registered, and none of the hospi­tals reported having any unidentified ac­cident victims brought in during the time frame in question. It was at that point that family members drove to the downtown bank and retraced Stanley Reed’s route.
From the downtown bank, the worried relatives headed east on Burnside Street and crossed the Willamette River. A few blocks later they turned left onto Union Avenue and headed north toward home. By this time it was after 2:00 a.m., but “Prostitute Row” was still bustling with hookers and their pimps trying to hustle up some late night business.
“We didn’t see a thing,” a relative later recalled. “On the way back home I asked (a relative) to stop on Union so I could talk with the prostitutes.
Stanley always rode up Union, so I figured if anything happened, a prostitute might have seen something. One prosti­tute said she didn’t want to scare me, but that about an hour (before we arrived) she had seen a police car, an ambulance, and some bloody rags at the end of the block.” At that point the relative said she went into a nearby restaurant to make inquiries and was told that a man had been stabbed. Frightened, the relative went home and called the police.
“A few minutes later,” the relative recalled, “the police called back and asked if I was alone. I said I wasn’t and they said the man who had been stabbed was (Stanley Reed). ” The relatives were informed that Reed was in the intensive care unit at Emanuel Hospital after un­dergoing surgery for two stab wounds, one to the chest and one to the nose. He was listed in critical condition.
“I found out later they (hospital staff) were too busy trying to save his life to look for identification,” said the relative regarding earlier efforts to find out if Stanley Reed had been admitted as a patient. He remained for a week in the hospital’s intensive care unit, but his prognosis was not good. On Friday, De­cember lath, Stanley Reed died as a re­sult of his wounds.
Detective Roland Benson of the Port­land Police Bureau’s Homicide Divi­sion was assigned to head the case, and he began by studying the preliminary investigators’ reports. Benson said little to the press initially, but noted that the case was a sad one, made all the more so because of the Christmas season and the children who would never celebrate the holidays again with their father. He said that after Reed’s death, the children were pulled away from their toys, games and books to be told that their father was “never coming home again.” Despite their financial hardships, said the detec­tive, the family was a happy one. The detective said that Reed would have cele­brated his seventh wedding anniversary on January 13, 1986.
According to Benson, Reed was an accomplished ice skater and held a black belt in karate. Despite his expertise in martial arts, however, which could have saved his life had he chosen to use it, Reed was described as a man who ab­horred violence. Judging from the back­ground information on the victim, the detective said it was unlikely that Reed had done anything to provoke the attack against him. Likewise, there was noth­ing in his background to suggest that he had known the assailants.
“At this point, the incident seems en­tirely unprovoked,” said Benson.
According to the information he had been able to gather, primarily from read­ing the earlier police reports and from interviews with hookers and pimps working the streets in the area, Benson said Reed had been riding north on Un­ion Avenue about 12:30 a.m. when a car with a driver and two passengers, one of whom was female, slowed and pulled alongside him. At that point, the male passenger stuck his hand out of the win­dow as if to strike Reed. Witnesses were unable to discern, however, whether the passenger had a knife in his hand at that time.
Reed pedaled faster, said Benson, and the car sped ahead and turned off of Un­ion in the 4500 block. It apparently cir­cled the block and stopped on Northeast Skidmore Street, where the assailants waited for Reed. When the victim ap­proached the waiting car, the passenger, described by witnesses as a young male Caucasian in his early 20s, got out of the car and ran after Reed, who by that time had abandoned his bicycle and was run­ning. When the assailant caught Reed, the two of them struggled briefly and fell to the ground. It was then that the assail­ant stabbed him twice. Afterwards, the car pulled forward and stopped at the spot where Reed lay bleeding profusely from his wounds, picked up the knife- wielding assailant and sped away.
The car was described as an older model sedan with a tall radio antenna and a large luggage rack on the roof. Al­though witnesses said the car bore Wash­ington plates, the cops had not immedi­ately found a witness who saw the actual number. The details were sketchy at best, said Benson, but he was confident that the case would break after following up on all the leads.
Shortly after the attack, crime lab ex­perts processed Reed’s bicycle for fin­gerprints just in case the assailant had touched it at one point or another. Unfor­tunately, the effort didn’t pan out as they had hoped. Only Reed’s prints were present on the bicycle.
In another effort to ferret out impor­tant clues, Stanley Reed’s clothes had been carefully removed and packaged at the hospital shortly after his arrival. It was possible that minute evidence such as clothing fibers, hair or other trace evi­dence had been deposited on his clothes during the struggle with the assailant. Such evidence can be important after a suspect is apprehended, in that it can place the perpetrator at the scene of the crime or, in this case, as having made physical contact with the victim.
In the meantime, an autopsy was per­formed on Reed’s body by Dr. Larry Lewman, deputy state medical examiner for Oregon, and he concluded the cause of death was a result of the stab wound to Reed’s chest.
As the investigation continued, Detec­tive Benson and his sleuths hit the streets of northeast Portland again and again, searching for a witness who might have seen the assault on Reed from a better vantage point. They interviewed count­less people, mostly hookers, but no one, unfortunately, could provide them with the lead they needed to focus on a suspect and make an arrest.
As the police worked, Reed’s funeral was held at a North Portland church that he and his family regularly attended. During the tearful eulogy, a relative read from notes she had scribbled on a sheet of notebook paper: “Although he wasn’t wealthy, he was a gentle man, a sweet man who loved his wife and children dearly…” Following the sad memorial service, in which “bewilderment” was expressed over Reed’s murder, private inurnment took place at a Portland col­umbarium.
Meanwhile, at a point when it seemed the case wasn’t going anywhere, Port­land police received their first real break in the case when a Vancouver, Washington, police officer spotted a car matching that of the suspect vehicle de­scribed in the APB heading north on In­terstate 5. The car was pulled over and two men were arrested, according to Vancouver police Capt. C. Eugene Chambers and Portland Police Sgt. Jay Decker. The two men were told they were being held as “persons of interest” in the Portland homicide case of Stanley Reed, and were subsequently taken to the Van­couver City Jail. They were identified on arrest reports as Brian Dean Hobson, 21, and Randol L. Pachl, 20, Hobson’s roommate. The men listed their address as being in the 8100 block of Northeast 13th Avenue in Vancouver.
Shortly after he was informed of the arrests, Detective Benson went to Van­couver to interview the suspects. The two weren’t very cooperative. Both men de­nied any involvement in the attack on Reed. But after presenting them with the facts of the case, including the informa­tion that people on Union Avenue had seen them at the time of the attack, the men admitted they had been in Portland, but they continued to deny any in­volvement in the slaying. Through per­sistent and careful interrogation, Detec­tive Benson was also able to learn the identity of the young woman seen with Hobson and Pachl.
In the hours that followed the arrests, Benson and his men took mug shots of the two suspects and mixed them with photos of other similarly looking men for use as a photo lay-down. The lay-down was pre­sented to several witnesses who had pro­vided information about the attack to the lawmen. Many of the witnesses picked Hobson as the aggressive attacker.
Faced with positive identification, Hobson waived extradition to Oregon and was returned to Portland, where he was booked into the Justice Center Jail without bail on an accusation of murder. Pachl, on the other hand, remained unco­operative and was eventually charged with hindering prosecution, a move which kept him in police custody.
In the meantime, the detectives ob­tained warrants to search the two sus­pects’ apartment. With the help of the Vancouver Police Department, the sleuths confiscated several articles of clothing and other personal items, in­cluding address and phone books and a large folding type knife. They also had the suspects’ vehicle towed to the crime lab garage where it could be gone over more thoroughly.
While crime lab experts were busy administering luminol to the interior of the car in search of blood traces, addi­tional technicians cleared a large table and covered it with clean wrapping paper to examine the confiscated clothing and knife. After the articles had been exam­ined with a head loupe magnifier, the items were swept one at a time with a vacuum sweeper and special filter. The clothing items were swept inside and out, and special attention was given to the pockets and cuffs. The sweepings from the pockets and cuffs were kept separate from the other sweepings as they represent a longer accumulation in time, and the findings from them will often be different from that of surface sweepings. The items were also exam­ined under ultraviolet light, and illumi­nations were noted. In this case, since it seemed that the items in question had recently been washed, the clothing was subjected to luminol and benzidine tests in an attempt to detect the presence of blood. The knife was examined in a simi­lar manner. None of the test results were made public until the case went to trial.
After additional interviews with wit­nesses, including a topless dancer seen in the suspects’ company at the time of the attack, Randol Pachl’s charges were changed to murder. He was accused of aiding and abetting in the killing. Pachl was returned to Oregon and was held without bail at the Justice Center Jail. Both Hobson and Pachl were indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury on the murder charges. Pachl, in a brief appear­ance before Multnomah County Circuit Judge R. William Riggs, did not imme­diately enter a plea to the charge. Hob­son, however, pleaded not guilty, and a few days later, Pachl followed suit.
The first detailed public accounts of the attack on Reed came during a bail hearing for Hobson and Pachl, held be­fore Multnomah County Circuit Judge Irving M. Steinbock. Attorney Robert Wolf represented Hobson, and attorney Des Connall represented Pachl. Deputy District Attorney James McIntyre out­lined the case against the two men and presented testimony from witnesses, in­cluding the 18-year-old topless dancer, identified as Barbara Taylor, who wit­nessed the attack from inside the sus­pects’ car.
From the witness stand, Taylor testi­fied that she, Hobson, and Pachl were driving north on Union Avenue at ap­proximately 12:30 a.m. on the morning of the attack when they spotted Stanley Reed, whom they did not know, bicy­cling. He, too, was heading north. The witness said that Pachl was the driver of their car, and that Hobson was sitting in the front passenger seat. Shortly before they saw Reed, recalled Taylor, Hobson pulled out a new folding knife from his pocket, opening and closing it.
“He started playing with it and saying it hadn’t been broken in and he wanted to do something about it,” testified Taylor. Hobson then said the knife “hadn’t seen any blood,” and Pachl responded by tell­ing Hobson “to go ahead and use it. He said he hadn’t used it either…Brian said he hadn’t broken the blade in yet, and he needed to,” said Taylor. She said she thought the knife actually belonged to Pachl.
It was then that Hobson saw Reed riding his bicycle northbound and said to Pachl, “We should get this guy, what do you think?” testified Taylor. She said that although Pachl didn’t verbally re­spond, he motioned his arm towards Reed. As they neared Reed, recalled Taylor, Hobson opened the knife and held it out the window with his right hand and tried to strike the cyclist as they passed. But he missed his target, and pulled the knife back inside the car with­out any blood on it. “I missed. I didn’t get him,” Taylor quoted Hobson as say­ing.
At that point, said Taylor, Pachl asked Hobson, “Do you want me to turn around?” And Hobson replied, “Why not?” Pachl said, “Okay,” and drove around the block.
After they drove around the block, Taylor said that Pachl and Hobson wait­ed for the cyclist to cross in front of them, at which time Pachl caused the car to “lunge” forward. Reed then stopped and got off his bicycle, threw it to the ground and approached the car. She said Reed got to within three feet of the car before Hobson got out. Pachl then told Hobson to “go ahead and get him.” Reed’s hands suddenly flew up, appar­ently after seeing the knife, and he started running north on Union Avenue away from Hobson. While sitting in the car, Pachl said, “Look at that (man) run.” About a block later, Hobson caught up with Reed. The next time she looked, Taylor said she saw Reed on the ground but that she didn’t see how he got there.
Under cross-examination from the de­fense attorneys, Taylor said she never heard either of the defendants talk about wanting to kill anybody. But when Hob­son returned to the car where Taylor and Pachl waited, Hobson said, “I finally got some…blood on (the knife).”
At the bail hearing, Pachl’s attorney, Des Connall, presented character wit­nesses and argued that Pachl didn’t know Hobson was going to kill Reed. At worst, argued Connall, Pachl did nothing more than assist in an assault against the vic­tim. At the conclusion of the hearing, however, both of the men were denied bail.
Pachl was the first of the two defen­dants to go to trial, held in the courtroom of Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Philip J. Roth. The trial began in mid-March 1986 and, following opening statements from both sides, the jurors heard testimony from topless dancer Bar­bara Taylor that was nearly identical to that given a few months earlier at the bail hearing.
In an apparent move to discredit Taylor’s testimony, the defense called anoth­er topless dancer, Dorette Smith, to testi­fy that Taylor was friendly with both Hobson and Pachl. Smith said she knew Taylor from having worked with her in the past at one of the local topless clubs, and said that Taylor “took a 90-degree turn” after murder charges were brought against Pachl.
“She said she didn’t like him anymore,” testified Smith. “She was afraid. She was afraid she’d get in trouble.” On cross-examination, Smith admitted that she had been dating Pachl for seven months, but her testimony provided little substance to the case, and the attempt to discredit Taylor’s testimony seemed to have failed.
Later in the trial, Randol Pachl took the stand and said he didn’t know what was about to happen when Hobson jumped from his car and went after Stanley Reed. When questioned about previous testi­mony, Pachl said he had “definitely not” agreed with Hobson that the cyclist should be killed. “I’m not on Brian’s side about taking another’s man life,” he said.
Pachl, a ninth-grade dropout who was working for a relative’s construction company at the time of the attack, said it was Hobson who suggested driving around the block to go after Reed a sec­ond time. Pachl also testified that he heard Hobson state that he wanted to “break in” the new knife, but he said he hadn’t taken him seriously.
“Brian jokes around, and I ignore him,” said Pachl. According to the de­fendant, Hobson said “he was going to get into it with this guy (Reed) or break in the new knife…Brian’ s a lot of hot air. He talks a lot and you learn to ignore Brian.” Pachl said he thought he heard abusive language being exchanged be­tween Reed and Hobson shortly before Hobson jumped out of the car, but “I couldn’t tell who hollered what to who,” because the volume on the car’s stereo system was turned up high.
Pachl said he witnessed Hobson jump from the car and saw Reed turn and run up Union Avenue. At one point, Reed slipped and fell to the ground. Pachl said Reed was getting up when Hobson and Reed began “pushing and shoving” each other. Pachl said Hobson then climbed back into the car and told him to leave the area quickly. A few blocks later, Pachl said Hobson displayed a bloody knife and said, “I stabbed him. I got blood on it.”
Under questioning, Pachl admitted that he responded to Hobson’s statement by saying, “That’s right, you broke in the knife all right,” but Pachl explained to the court that he still wasn’t taking Hobson seriously at the time. Pachl also admitted that the folding knife used to stab Reed was his, and he earlier told Hobson to leave it alone when he saw Hobson playing with it at their apart­ment.
At another point in the trial, at least a dozen character witnesses including rel­atives and former girlfriends testified that Pachl had a good reputation for tell­ing the truth. Most of the character evi­dence was offered to support Pachl’s claims that he had no knowledge of Hob- son’s intentions when the attack oc­curred.
During the closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney James McIntyre count­ered some of Pachl’s testimony and maintained that Pachl drove slowly up Union Avenue “to get a better view” as Hobson chased Reed. He added that the attack against Reed was “absolutely ani­malistic and barbaric.”
On the other hand, Defense Counsel Des Connall contended that Pachl’s criminal intent, if there was any at all, was only within the realm of assault, not an intentional killing as the state con­tended. Connall said Reed’s death was “the ultimate tragedy,” but he insisted that Hobson “was off on a folly of his own.”
Following four hours of deliberations, the jury returned with a unanimous ver­dict of guilty against Pachl. Pachl sat quietly as the verdict was read.
At Pachl’s sentencing, one of Reed’s relatives testified that one of Reed’s chil­dren was afraid to grow up because of his father’s murder. “He is afraid if he grows up, he will be murdered like his father,” said the relative. “Every time I leave the house he worries I will be mur­dered as well. He feels if his father couldn’t defend himself, how could he ever defend himself?”
Pachl, when given a chance to speak prior to sentencing, said he still didn’t understand why he had been charged with a crime. “I don’t feel I am guilty of it at all,” he said, stating that he felt Hobson was solely responsible for the attack on Reed.
Judge Roth, calling the crime a “stu­pid senseless killing,” said that Pachl was in control of the situation as the driver of the car. “You could have told Hobson, ‘We’re going home now,’ and to put the knife away,” said the judge. “He (Pachl) couldn’t help but know, if he had any judgment at all, that it (the attack) would result in great injury, if not death,” the judge said to the attorneys and spectators. With that, Judge Roth sentenced Pachl to at least 10 years in prison and fined him $50,000 to benefit Reed’s two children. The judge said Pachl would be obligated to begin paying the fine after his release from prison, and ordered Pachl to pay $3,200 after his first year of release and to pay an additional $5,200 for each of nine subsequent years. Roth said the fine “would pay in some small measure what has been taken away in support of those two small chil­dren.”
Faced with the insurmountable evi­dence against him, Brian Hobson plead­ed guilty to the intentional murder of Stanley Reed before Judge Roth on Wed­nesday, May 8, 1986.
At his sentencing hearing in June, Hobson chose not to make a statement. However, his attorney, Robert Wolf, spoke on his behalf.
“I see a man who from birth had no chance,” said Wolf of his client.
“If he had been raised differently, without poverty, without illiteracy, without bigotry, he wouldn’t be here to­day.”
The judge and one of the victim’s rela­tives had different feelings, however. Reflecting on his 22 years as a judge, Roth said that the Reed killing “exceeds all others as a senseless, purposeless, brutal, unprovoked killing…(the killing) was the act of a mad dog wielding a knife as fangs, chasing down a helpless victim for slaughter.”
“Everything Pachl said was to encour­age you,” said one of the victim’s rela­tives, staring directly at Hobson. “He didn’t have to circle the block with the car but he did. He used you as a tool because he wanted to see blood, too. He’s just as much an animal as you are, Mr. Hobson.”
Judge Roth sentenced Hobson to life in prison with a 15-year minimum term be­fore eligibility for parole. The compara­tively light sentence was a result of plea bargaining.
The plea negotiations were “all my wishes,” said a close relative. “I don’t want any heat on the district attorney’s office for the plea bargain. In my opin­ion, is it justice to go to trial and try to get a maximum sentence and have to sacri­fice my emotions and those of my family, or is it better not to be greedy and to take what you can get and save the emotional suffering?”
Randol Pachl is serving his sentence at Oregon State Penitentiary. Brian Hobson is serving his sentence at an institution in another state that participates in recipro­cal exchanges of incarcerated convicts. Because he was on parole for a conviction in Washington State at the time Reed was stabbed, Hobson must return to Wash­ington to finish serving his sentence on the earlier conviction after his release on the murder conviction.
EDITOR’S NOTE:
Barbara Taylor and Dorette Smith are not the real names of the persons so named in the foregoing story. Fictitious names have been used because there is no reason for public interest in the identities of these persons.
Case update for Absurd Motive Behind Stanley’s Stabbing
After spending 16 years behind bars for what was described as a racist-driven thrill killing, Randol L. Pachl was paroled by Oregon officials in June 2002 after passing a psychiatric evaluation showing that he was no longer a threat to society. Although Pachl had previously refused to take responsibility for his actions the night Stanley Reed was killed, he told the 2002 parole board that he took full responsibility for his actions even though he was under Hobson’s influence on the evening of Reed’s slaying. He never admitted to being a racist.
Brian Hobson, who had been transferred to a penitentiary outside of Oregon in a prisoner exchange program, reportedly became eligible for parole in 2005. Under the terms of his conviction in Oregon for intentionally killing Stanley Reed, Hobson was to have been transferred to Washington to complete a sentence in that state for which he was on parole at the time of Reed’s stabbing. The current disposition of Hobson’s parole status was not available at the time of this article update.

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