Victims: Kim Wilson, 20, Julia Wilson, 17, Bill Wilson, 52, & Rose Wilson, 46
Age at time of murders: 17
Crime location: Bellevue
Crime date: January 3-4, 1997
Partner in crime: David Anderson, 18
Crimes: Mass murder & thrill-killing
Murder method: Strangling, stabbing, and bludgeoning
Murder motivation: Thrill
Sentence: Life without parole (LWOP) later reduced
Incarceration status: Incarcerated at the Callam Bay Corrections Center (#788490)
Baranyi lured Kim to a park and strangled her to death. He realized that she may have told her parents that she was going to meet him. Baranyi then decided to murder them as well. He did just that. He went to their house and murdered them and their 17-year-old daughter Julia. He later told detectives that he committed the murders as an “opportunity to experience something truly phenomenal.”
Teen Says He Killed For Experience Suspect Tells Police He Wanted To Do ‘Something Truly Phenomenal’
Sept. 13, 1997
A teenage boy accused of killing a Bellevue family of four offers no motive in a taped confession to police other than to describe the killings as an “opportunity to experience something truly phenomenal.”
A transcript of the confession by Alex Baranyi was made public this week as part of a request by the lawyer for Baranyi’s alleged accomplice in the killings, David Anderson. Attorney Michael Kolker wants Anderson tried separately.
In the confession, portions of which were published Friday by the Eastside Journal in Bellevue, Baranyi initially tells police that he alone strangled Kim Wilson, then beat and stabbed her parents and younger sister late Jan. 3 and early Jan. 4.
When detectives told him they knew more than one person was in the Wilson home, Baranyi acknowledged there was an accomplice, but refused to say who it was.
Baranyi and Anderson, both now 18, were arrested in January and have each pleaded innocent to four counts of aggravated first-degree murder.
If convicted of aggravated murder, Baranyi and Anderson, who have been charged as adults, face life in prison without possibility of parole.
The body of Kim Wilson, 20, was found strangled Jan. 5 in the Woodridge Water Tower Park. That led police to her family’s nearby home, where they found the bodies of her parents, Bill and Rose Wilson, 52 and 46, and her 17-year-old sister, Julia.
Four days after the Wilsons’ deaths were discovered, investigators drew from Alex Baranyi, then 17, an account of the killings.
In the transcript, Baranyi told police he was with Anderson, then 17, when he looked in Anderson’s address book Jan. 3 for Kim Wilson’s pager number. That evening, Baranyi paged Kim Wilson, who called back within a few minutes and agreed to meet him at a Chevron station near the Bellevue Way home where he was living. They drove in her sister’s car to the water tower park in her neighborhood, where they could walk the trails and talk, he said.
Baranyi couldn’t tell the investigators why he started to strangle Kim Wilson with a “run of the mill” 2-foot piece of rope he had in his pocket.
“When I, when I realized I was strangling her, I, I remember seeing her face turn blue and I just, I couldn’t stop,” he is quoted as saying. “I don’t know why. I just, I felt angry, but I don’t know why.”
Later, he acknowledged that an accomplice was with him and helped hide her body in some bushes.
Fearing the girl’s parents would know he had been with her, Baranyi drove the sister’s car to a spot near her house. He told detectives he waited for at least an hour, then pulled into her driveway and walked in through the unlocked front door.
Initially, he said he was armed only with a 5-inch knife and found a bat in the garage. Later he said he brought the bat and also used a kitchen knife.
He said he felt “really scared” when the family dog started barking as he approached the sleeping family.
After Bill Wilson quieted the dog, Baranyi climbed the stairs for a second time and entered the bedroom where Rose and Bill Wilson slept. He said that as the dog started barking again, he slammed the bat into Rose Wilson’s head.
He said he then stabbed Bill Wilson, then turned into the hall, where Julia had turned on the light. He described her terrified fall to the floor, his knife thrust as she wept and his words to her.
“I told her I was sorry,” he told police. “I was sorry that I was killing her.”
Baranyi left after taking Bill Wilson’s wallet and the family’s video recorder, CD player and phone.
He drove to the house where he was staying, hid the VCR and CD player, changed his clothes and returned to the car, he told police. He told officers he threw the murder weapons and clothing into a trash bin, then drove to the Wilsons, left the car and walked home.
There, he went to bed, sleeping until noon or 1 p.m.
Baranyi later told detectives there was no motive for the deaths. Rather, he said, “there is just that opportunity to experience something truly phenomenal.”
Kolker, Baranyi’s attorneys and King County prosecutors are expected to argue their positions on separating the trials in a Sept. 26 hearing before Superior Court Judge Bobbe Bridge.
The trial, initially set for October, is likely to be postponed.
Dec 18, 1999Ian IthSeattle Times Eastside Bureau
After nearly three months of trial, a jury took only six hours yesterday to find David Anderson guilty of all charges in the 1997 slayings of a Bellevue family of four.
The verdict, delivered to a tense, teary-eyed courtroom at the King County Courthouse, means Anderson, 20, faces an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.
Sentencing was to be set sometime next month, Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell said, but it’s a formality. The judge has no choice in the matter.
“It’s kind of difficult to believe human beings could do that to each other, but that’s what happened,” jury foreman Rodney White said as the other 11 jurors filed out of the courtroom in silence. “Most people say, `I can’t believe that happened.’ But it did happen.”
It was Anderson’s second trial on four counts of aggravated murder in the Jan. 3, 1997, slayings of William and Rose Wilson and their daughters, Kimberly and Julia. His first trial last winter ended in a hung jury.
His accomplice, Alex Baranyi, is serving a life sentence after being convicted of identical charges late last year.
“I think we put on a better case this time,” Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Eakes said. “It’s really an exhaustive case in terms of the evidence, but I think it was a fairly straightforward case for the jury to sort through it and reach a verdict.”
Prosecutors said, in a nutshell, that Anderson masterminded the murders and enlisted Baranyi to help pull it off. The strongest evidence was a pair of blood-spattered boots found in Anderson’s bedroom.
Anderson’s lawyers tried to show he was innocent. And – this time – they tried to show that evidence suggested there were as many as two other accomplices who helped Baranyi, the real mastermind. They must have borrowed Anderson’s boots, the defense suggested, and then returned them to his room.
In Anderson’s first trial, his lawyers asserted Baranyi acted alone.
An appeal is certain, said lead attorney Peter Connick, whose aggressive defense was often blamed for bogging down the trial. The jury wasn’t allowed to hear a lot of evidence, he said, that would have shown that two other young men had similar circumstantial evidence against them. Neither were ever seriously considered suspects.
“I’m obviously disappointed, because we had other witnesses we wanted to put on,” Connick said. “I was put in a box, but it’s not over. The road is just longer now.”
As the news filtered through the courthouse that a verdict was in, Anderson’s parents and family friends held hands and prayed. Bruce and Leslie Anderson have attended both trials.
As the first guilty verdict left the court clerk’s lips, a single tear welled and rolled down Leslie Anderson’s cheek.
Meanwhile, behind them, surviving members and friends of the Wilson family wept also, holding hands or wrapping arms around each other’s shoulders.
The Anderson family hustled from the courthouse, declining to speak.
“It’s a tough row to hoe,” Connick said of the Andersons. “We prepared them because we thought this was probably a strong possibility.”
Because Anderson was 17 at the time of the slayings, the death penalty wasn’t an option.
Despite an appeal, the verdict yesterday also spells an end to a three-year saga that crumbled families as it opened the public to a world of teen angst and violence in a stable suburb – a story so twisted that it soon will be a true-crime paperback.
“The line between murder and genocide is a difficult one to define,” Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird said after the verdict yesterday. “But in this case, that line may have been crossed.”
Kimberly Wilson, a Bellevue High School grad who was home for the holidays from serving in AmeriCorps, was found strangled and beaten in the bushes at a park near her family home.
When police went to the home to notify the family, Bellevue police Detective Jeff Gomes stumbled on the carnage inside. William and Rose Wilson had been attacked and murdered in their bedroom, neither likely ever knowing what hit them, experts would later testify. Then the killers had set upon Julia, who suffered the worst of the violence as she struggled to live.
“It was a normal welfare check that went terribly wrong,” Gomes recalled yesterday. “I think for all of us, (the verdict) is very gratifying.”
It didn’t take long for police to arrest Anderson and Baranyi, high-school dropouts who traveled in what would later be described as a “Goth” crowd of disaffected youth.
Baranyi was quick to confess, saying he killed the Wilsons because he “was in a rut” and was feeling “decadent.” Friends would later tell police he actually thought he was a god in a world of role-playing games that he turned into his reality.
A jury last year didn’t buy Baranyi’s argument that he was too mentally ill to be responsible for the murders.
But Baranyi has never firmly implicated Anderson.
Anderson never confessed or avowed any knowledge of the crimes. But as the jury would learn, detectives were steered right to him by friends to whom he had often bragged that he would commit a major murder.
He grew up down the street from the Wilsons. And, until a falling out, he had been something of a little brother to Kimberly.
Prosecutors, though, presented Anderson as an egomaniac. He was fascinated by knives and killing, friends testified. And he wasn’t afraid to tell people about it.
But Anderson consistently argued that he was but one of a number of teens who played fantasy games and idly talked crime and violence.
White, the jury foreman, said the “defense presentation went very well. But we felt the evidence did the talking for us.”
And Anderson’s bloody boots were the clincher, he said.
Meanwhile, the long-term effects of the Wilson murders may stay close to home in Woodridge, a once relatively innocent neighborhood that one night became the site of Bellevue’s worst multiple murder.
“It’s a shame,” David Anderson calmly told a detective who questioned him days after the murders. “Woodridge used to be the kind of place where people didn’t have to lock their doors.”