By Bruce A. Smith
A couple of my Libertarian friends called me this week to discuss the murders of Brian and Beverly Mauck of Graham, WA back in 2007, and the role Mitt Romney played in their deaths.
My friends claimed that Mitt, as Governor of Massachusetts, had irresponsibly released the shooter, Daniel Tavares, from custody, after which Tavares then traveled to Washington and killed the Maucks. As such, my friends feel that Mitt should still be held accountable and the issue re-introduced into the presidential campaign.
However, my friends are mistaken in the facts of the case. Mitt did not release Tavares from prison, and in my opinion Mr. Romney should not be held liable for these murders.
That said, Mitt did appoint the state officials who greased the wheels for Tavares’ release and provided a probationary coverage so lax that Tavares was able to slip away from Massachusetts and get himself to Graham.
Further, there is plenty of stink still swirling around the Mauck case, and it all needs to be aired – for the Mauck case taught me much about America, Big Money and Big Power.
The Mauck murders were the first homicides that I covered in my journalism career. I was working at the time as a freelance reporter for The Dispatch newspaper of Eatonville, WA, and my beat was Graham. My five postings on the Mauck murders for The Dispatch are included here at the end of this report.
But before that, I’d like to share my recollections of the case.
I’d like to go beyond what I wrote for The Dispatch and give you the inside story of what I was told by family, officials, neighbors, investigators, and other journalists. Some of it is unsubstantiated, but the pieces I share come from people I consider to be trustworthy. Other bits are just my personal experiences coupled with my recollections of what people said and did – and I include them even though I don’t have iron-clad proof to use for journalistic support. Last is my sense of what all of the above actually means, and taken as a whole my investigation of the Mauck homicides reveals how corrupt our world truly is.
Brian Mauck, 30, and his new wife Beverly, 28 were killed in the early hours of Saturday November 17, 2007 in their Graham home, located just off 304 St. The following February, Daniel T. Tavares confessed to the murders and is now serving life sentences at Walla Walla state penitentiary.
At the time of the killings, Mitt Romney was ahead in the polls both in New Hampshire and nationwide for the 2008 presidential election. Less than two months after the Mauck murders, though, Romney lost the New Hampshire primary and eventually the Republican nomination.
So, arguably the Mauck shootings had a political impact, but that was not readily apparent at first, and not in Washington.
To begin, the Mauck murders played big in the Boston newspapers – bigger than even here in Washington. In fact, by mid-December – a month after the shootings – letters to the editors at the Boston Globe complained about the continued coverage of the Mauck case, and begged for the paper to switch to a more Christmas-friendly selection of news.
Nevertheless, the killings had a brief but specific political impact. Candidates John McCain and Rudy Giuliani both used the Mauck murders to deride Mitt as a lousy administrator and no friend of tough justice. In essence, McCain and Giuliani said, -Yeah, Mitt talks tough about crime, but look at the bozos he appointed to run his Department of Corrections when he was Governor. Those idiots just released that sadist Tavares who went and killed that lovely couple in Graham, Washington.
Even though not as big as Boston, the story was heavily reported here – certainly by me – and several of the reporters from the Tacoma News Tribune, who provided critical coverage.
I dug deeply into the case and to my dismay I was pulled off the story three times by my editors at The Dispatch due to controversial and provocative nature of my investigation. At the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything particularly unusual since I was reporting mostly what the Globe and the TNT were finding with their huge staffs, but I was the most local reporter and my constant physical presence in Graham had its benefits and costs.
I was first pulled off the case about a week after the shootings for being too cheeky with the Public Information Officer of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD), Detective Ed Troyer. I had felt Troyer had deceived me – even lied to me – about facts in the case and I called him on it, most obviously in an email I sent to him and to other journalists. What bothered me most was his telling me on Day Two of the investigation that the PCSD didn’t have any clues and that “We’re really going to need help from the public on this one,” and yet he had Tavares in custody within hours of making that announcement.
Further, Troyer was evasive about critical information on the case, such as how the murders took place and the weapons used, if any. He also had no substantive response to clues that I was presenting to him, such as asking how the pink sneaker ended up on the front lawn if the murders took place indoors. Worse, Troyer did not send any press releases to me or The Dispatch about the case, a practice that Troyer is infamous for, and which led to discussions between my editors and me that we should file suit against the PCSD for unethical and illegal withholding of information and intentionally misleading us.
I sent my email complaint about Troyer around 1 am. At 6 am my phone rang, and since I had forgotten to turn off the ringer before I went to bed, it awakened me. Groggy and grouchy I listened while I heard the caller, Detective Troyer himself, berate me for besmirching his reputation and for trying to build my own, as in his words (as I remember them), I was trying to become a lousy. yellow journalist like Geraldo Rivera and should be working for the National Inquirer.
By the time I got to the phone he was gone, and I guess I was so angry at being awoken that I erased the message. But I called Troyer back on his cell phone and he picked up on the first ring.
Ah, he’s up and wide awake, I thought. Not sleeping too well, eh, Ed?
I assured Troyer that even though I was angry at him for what I perceived to be inexcusable deceptions, I was primarily interested in learning the hard facts, and we ended up having a very productive discussion about the case, particularly how he gained the evidence to arrest Tavares. This information I found very useful and it was published soon afterwards in The Dispatch (See posting #3 of December 3, 2007).
As for my editors, my Troyer-bashing email was too much for them to stomach, and I was pulled off the story by mid-day. Yet, the story still had sizeable legs and I was able to talk my way back onto the coverage by sundown. Lots of apologizing helped, and basically my editors trusted me even if I was a bit too impassioned and cocky for their long-term comfort.
Back in the saddle I was more circumspect, realizing that Troyer only wanted the media to release what he wanted us to release – and when he wanted it released. I’ve come to learn that such perspectives are the rule with most law enforcement agencies.
As for Troyer specifically, he never sent me a single press release on any crime in my four years with the Dispatch, and to the best of my knowledge he never sent one to my editors or other reporters at the D despite our many requests, complaints and efforts to build a professional relationship with the PCSD.
Further, I’ve seen Troyer berate other journalists in public, even yelling at a seasoned reporter from the Seattle Times on one occasion on another story. Eddie is great on TV and gives a great interview, but for us print guys he was a cranky official we had to learn how to endure.
About a week and a half into the story, I began to reach out to the Mauck family, and the case became very weird and disturbing for me.
Most notably, an individual named Zach told me that the family had appointed him media liaison and that all my efforts to contact family should go through him
“Fine,” I said, and then got nothing from Zach – no announcements or answers to my questions.
Zach was a young man, 20-something, and he claimed that he came to his position as a long-time friend of Beverly, and thus trusted by the family. However, I strongly suspect that he was a plant, designed by unknown forces to keep me from contacting the family directly, and keeping them in a protected cocoon of isolation.
The purpose of this buffering soon became apparent.
Towards the end of Week Two in the story, I learned through the TNT and the Boston Globe that the FBI had a surveillance team in the woods near the Mauck home looking for Tavares, and warning at least one of the neighbors that “Tavares was a really bad dude.” (See Dispatch, post #3, December 2, 2007.)
As the most local guy of the media crew I was able to jump right on this information and I learned that the Mauck’s next door-neighbor, a Mr. Jabaay, had encountered a Washington State Police detective named George Mars camped out on his property. I was eager to learn if Mars or others had warned the Maucks about Tavares, or exactly what was the nature of their surveillance since Tavares was a hard man to miss – his prison tattoos were extraordinary and a giant red dragon climbed up his neck, and in fact Tavares was receiving food stamps and other DSHS assistance at the time of the shooting.
“Surveillance?” exclaimed another neighbor, a cranky, colorful lady in a wheelchair who lived across from the Maucks and at the corner of their block. “How could they miss him? The cops could have parked in my driveway and seen Tavares drive by anytime – you couldn’t miss him.”
In addition, Jabaay told me that Mars had told him that he was an FBI agent, but the business card that Mars gave Jabaay said “Washington State Patrol,” so perhaps Jabaay got it mixed-up. Nevertheless, the FBI did confirm that they had a joint surveillance team in the Graham woods looking for Tavares. The Big Question I had for Mars and the FBI was whether they actually were looking for Tavares and if they had warned the Maucks, who were already socializing with Tavares and his family that he had just married into.
As I looked deeper my doubts about the “looking for Tavares” scenario solidified.
When Tavares traveled west, he did so to proclaim nuptials with the Graham woman he met online while in prison, Jennifer Freitas. Tavares’ Internet tryst is also very suspect since prison officials told me that no prisoner ever has Internet privileges, so a third party had to intervene and act as a go-between Jennifer and Tavares. A prison guard?
Further, Jennifer lived with her extended family on a large spread of land across from the Maucks, and the marital plans of Jennifer and Tavares were known in Massachusetts and were used by the public defender to ask for a more lenient probationary program. So the notion of the FBI having to form a surveillance team with WSP to find a guy in Graham that the Massachusetts courts knew about, including the couple’s address, is bogus.
Plus, the FBI and the WSP failed to ask the PCSD to partake in the “surveillance,” and in fact Troyer professed profound indignation that his department was not informed of the Federal-State joint activities prior to the murders that his cops had to clean up.
Hence, I and many others wonder what exactly the FBI and WSP were doing in the Graham woods. I wanted to talk with Mars and get some answers.
However, when I called the phone number he had given Jabaay I was routed to the PIO for the WSP, who stonewalled me. Again, as in the prior week with Troyer, I lost my cool and raised my voice, and told him I thought the whole surveillance canard stunk to high heaven and I wanted to know the truth.
The PIO hung up on me and then called my editors at the Dispatch, who then called me.
“Bruce, have you talked with the State Police today?” they asked.
“Yup, I sure did. I got the runaround from their PIO about the surveillance team in Graham, and now, I’m thinking of going down to Olympia to see what I can learn in person.”
“Bruce, you’re not going to Olympia,” my editor replied. “The WSP PIO just called us and said you sounded like a crazy person. You’re off the case, and this time I mean permanently.”
Instead of Olympia I drove to the Dispatch offices in Eatonville and was externally calmed down by the time I walked in the door. I think I looked normal, in fact. However, I was still worked up inside, and my editors – always nurturing if not enflamed zealots – took me out to dinner to further soothe me, where they uttered their most memorable line:
“Bruce, you have to remember we’re nice Unitarians from Indiana. We’re not like you, and we’re not prepared to go where you want to go.”
Over dessert I talked my way back onto the story – at least to the degree of being able to cover Tavares’ trial and sentencing. Straight forward reporting I promised, and no visits to the neighborhood, crime scene, or calls to anybody connected to the case.
Along these lines, I developed a cold when the funeral occurred, so I was unable to attend in person and make any direct personal contact with the family. All I had was Zach, and from him I got zilch. I wanted to know if the Maucks had been officially warned about Tavares; and I also wanted to know more about Beverly and Brian, as so much didn’t add up in their personal lives.
When I had been at the crime scene on Day One, I saw two big motorcycles parked in the garage, and on the nearby wall hung two full sets of scuba gear. Troyer had told us that Brian and Beverly had traveled to the Caribbean on more than one occasion, and in fact they had been married within the past year in the Turks and Caicos Islands. That meant to me that somebody in the family had money, but whom?
I discussed the possibilities with other journalists, and we all wondered at the likelihood that the Maucks had a hidden money source somewhere. Rich uncle? Drug sales? What? We never heard anything other than Troyer telling us that Beverly and Brian “worked hard and played hard.”
I didn’t buy it, as Beverly was a receptionist at Baydos in Roy, and Brian was a non-union installer and field supervisor for an HVAC company in Renton.
He makes what – 60 grand a year tops, and she, maybe 20 – and she just started working? How do they buy a new house, two motorcycles, scuba equipment, season tickets for the Seahawks and go to the Islands a couple times?
Was their death a drug deal gone bad? I know I was not the only one to ponder that thought. Now, however, I think the truth is much more insidious.
In fact, I believe that if Brian and Beverly were fat and forty they would still be alive. I think they were assassinated in a kind of political hit because they were cute, and the murderers knew that the pictures of the Maucks’ – young, vibrant and All-American, and plastered day after day in the Boston papers -would have a tremendously negative impact on the Romney campaign.
I believe that what went down in Graham on November 17, 2007 was to achieve exactly what happened: Somebody very powerful did not want Mitt Romney to be the President of the United States in 2008.
To prove my case, I start at the beginning.
When I first heard about the shooting, I couldn’t find the crime scene, so I went to the Starbucks in the Graham Safeway and asked one of the baristas if they knew where the murders had taken place.
“Oh, sure,” replied a seasoned barista behind the Espresso machine. “The cops who were the first on the scene just stopped in for lattes. They just got off duty, and it’s off 304, just past the fire station. They told me it was a hit!”
A hit? Of course! I thought in the days that followed the shooting.
A hit explains so much of the bizarre nature of the case. Tavares was able to enter the house, apparently, without alarming the Maucks. We now know that Tavares shot the Maucks with a .22 caliber pistol, execution style in the skull. It is believed that Brian was shot first, lying in his recliner in the living room, watching TV. It is my understanding that Tavares put three shots into Brian’s skull.
Beverly must have been in the bedroom and came running out. A fight between her and Tavares ensued and she punched him in the eye, apparently, as he had a black eye at arraignment. Nevertheless, she was also killed by three shots to the head.
Troyer told me that Tavares and Beverly struggled on the lawn, but he offered no evidence as to why he would say that, other than the pink sneaker.
As to how the pink sneaker got out there, I believe it may have been a plant, along with the kicked-in door panel on the front door, which had given rise to the notion that Tavares smashed his way in, first busting the panel and then reaching up to turn the door knob. Troyer indicated to me that was how Tavares gained entry, but if that is the correct scenario then why didn’t the noise frighten Brian and Beverly, and thus trigger a 911 phone call?
In my opinion, the evidence suggests a mostly quiet entry and shooting. According to crime author Ann Rule’s account of the shooting, there was a lot of blood in the living room and foyer area, but none outside.
Tragically, the truth of the case did not come out at trial as the Pierce County Prosecutor offered a plea deal to Tavares – two consecutive life sentences and no death penalty. Tavares took the deal and the powers-that-be avoided a public trial and the nosy press, all to support the proclaimed idea of sparing the family the anguish of testifying in court.
But what of the family?
I continued to ask Zach if the family knew about the warnings that others received from the FBI and the WSP. He did not respond. At the court room for sentencing, which was my first chance to speak with the family, I broke my promise to my editors and I spoke with the family. Beverly’s mother looked at me like I had two heads when I asked her if her daughter had been warned. I spoke at length with other family members and was appalled at their lack of knowledge in the case. It was clear to me that they had not read my reportage. I don’t think they had read anything – certainly not the Globe or the TNT articles. As far as I could tell, they only knew that their beloved son and daughter were dead.
Nevertheless, I gave them my business card and asked them to call me. They never did.
Yet, the family lied to me, at least Zach did. I kept pushing Zach for an interview with family members and he told me they needed to grieve and to be left alone. However, the next day, Mauck family members were on the 50-yard line at Seahawks Stadium and on national TV, being honored for enduring their tragedy.
Hunh? But they don’t they want to know why their kids are dead?
The next day I read in the TNT that sports writer Dave Boling reported that the Mauck family had contacted him, wanting him to write their story.
So much for grieving and privacy I huffed.
I called Boling and asked what was going on. Dave told me that he turned the family down, suggesting that they find another writer. I asked Dave if he could give me any phone numbers for the family. He declined, and I asked him if he could pass on my phone number to them. I never heard back from the Maucks.
I Googled the heck out of all the family names, but made no connections.
I called Zach again, and this time he agreed to meet me at the crime scene in Graham. When I arrived, Zach was loading stuff out of Brian and Beverly’s house, assisting a young man who was reportedly a younger brother of one of the deceased. The brother was very angry, shouting as he loaded household items and he did not look like someone I could approach, especially since Zach didn’t want me to do so and I was supposed to be impersonating an altar boy for my editors.
I left without any answers, and ultimately put the case on hiatus for the next six months. Then, in the summer of 2008, strange things began to happen.
One day I received a phone call from the Dispatch’s ad rep to pick up some papers at the office. When I arrived, she said that I had also just received a bizarre phone message from a woman who refused to identify herself.
This mystery call was a detailed complaint about illegal excavations and land clearing activities on the property where Tavares and his bride, Jennifer Freitas, had lived.
Mauck Country again? I talked with my editors and they reluctantly agreed to allow me to talk to the Freitas’ and the neighbors regarding the illegal land development allegations.
My first stop was the cranky gal at the corner whom I had gotten to know well in my Mauck investigations.
“Nope not me,” she told me. “I didn’t make the call. In fact, I haven’t seen anything going on at the Freitas’ – those trac-hoes and back hoes haven’t moved in weeks!”
That surprised me since the phone message I had received was very detailed, filled with specific zoning violations, country codes and Washington state RCW regs.
Who could do this? A county official? Someone at PALS?
I combed the old neighborhood for a full afternoon, talking with folks about land clearing and eventually, even gently, the murders.
Two things happened: One, I learned that no one knew of any land clearing activities on the Freitas’ property– legal or otherwise. Second, I learned more about the Freitas’ family, and one of the neighbors assured me that he would talk directly with Jeff Freitas, Jennifer’s brother, on my behalf and seek an interview for me. Prior, Jeff and his family had steadfastly refused to talk to any media about the Mauck shootings. Now, however, I could learn more about what really happened the night and morning of November 16-17, along with getting the details of any land clearing.
Somebody wants me back on the Mauck story, I said to myself, and they have given me the perfect cover with this land clearing crapola. It covers me with my editors at the Dispatch, and it gives me access to the Freitas’. Fantastic!
The next day I spoke with Jeff, who called me. He was very friendly but cautious, concerned that his wife and family might feel upset with his talking to a reporter.
Nevertheless, he gave me more details of what he saw and did. He did not see the bodies, but he confirmed seeing the door panel kicked-in from the outside. He agreed to talk with his wife about discussing with me who Tavares was as a person and what kind of relationship he had with the Maucks. In the meantime, he told me a little bit more.
I was surprised to hear how close the relationship was between the Maucks and Tavares. Jeff told me that the Maucks and Tavares had discussed going hunting together, and had played cards together at the Mauck house. But, Jeff could not confirm if Tavares was doing a tattoo on Brian, as had been suggested by the cops.
Ultimately, Jeff never called back and did not respond to my phone calls. I assumed it was a dead end. But I was back on the case.
I went back to the crime scene and peered into the windows the Mauck house for the first time. I was surprised that it was so small a home.
This cost 300-hundred grand? What a rip-off!
I saw massage oils and an alarm lock on the window ledge next to the bed in the bedroom.
This must be where Beverly was when Tavares came in.
As I drove away, a PCSD cruiser drove past me on 304th, and then a second. I turned around on 304th to visit a friend and saw two unmarked white vans on a side street. They resembled surveillance vans that I’ve seen the feds use on stake outs.
The politza are a little edgy today, eh? I mused.
I arrived at my friend Nancy’s place and we talked in her driveway. I told her about the case and what had been going on – basically I told her what I’ve written here, including my speculations.
After about fifteen minutes, her husband drove in and looked at me with such distain that I figured he thought I was having an affair with his wife. Feeling extremely uncomfortable I left. By the time I got home I was off the case again.
“Bruce, have you been talking to people on 304th about the Mauck murders?” my editors asked over the phone, which was ringing as I walked in.
“Well, yeah, it did come up.”
“But, you promised. No Mauck stuff.”
“Yeah, but what’s really the problem? I was just asking people what they knew about land clearing, the Freitas’ and the Maucks. The two kind of go hand-in-hand.”
“Bruce, we just got a phone call from Nancy, warning us that you are talking crazy stuff out in public. We simply can’t have that.”
I was out of verbal ammo, and I never wrote another word about the Maucks for the Dispatch.
But now, I’ve regained my voice and bless the Mountain News.
One last thing.
About a year later, while covering another story for the Dispatch, I was in a meeting with a group of officials whom I can only describe as “public safety officials.” I have to keep their identity confidential and you’ll soon see why.
Leaving the meeting, I was the last person to exit the room, other than the host who was holding the door open and bidding his goodbyes to the others. When I passed him he leaned forward and said, “Bruce, you got a minute?”
He leaned back and nodded with his head for me to re-enter the room. I did so.
“Have a seat,” he said.
I re-took my seat and we faced each other. I had no idea what was about to happen.
“Bruce, I know you are very interested in the Mauck case, but I need to tell you that if you continue your investigation you will have to go so far underground that even your mother will have to be convinced that you are dead. The people that you are going up against are very powerful – so powerful that they would blow up a town just to get you. They would kill hundreds of people just to shut you up. They don’t care about any of that – it’s all collateral damage to them. All they care about is power and control. That’s what you’re up against. I think you know what I’m talking about.”
I nodded my head. He continued:
“You’re going to have to make a decision on what kind of life you want to have. As for me, I’ve decided that I enjoy going home at night and spending the evening with my wife and kids. As for you, well, it’s your call.”
I stood and we shook hands. We walked out quietly.
As I approached my truck, I thought, My Gawd, the Dispatch’s just a small-town, two-bit newspaper, but it counts!
That night and for many more to come, in my walking meditations I held the focus of telling the truth and not being afraid. Over time I developed more courage and became calmer. I knew in my bones that I didn’t have a death wish and I wasn’t hoping some mercenary would whack me over these kinds of stories. I was not going to be deterred.
If someone decides to take me out that is their choice, not mine. I will not be afraid. I will not stop writing and telling the truth just because Big Power is pissed off. Besides, if they do take me out, it just might be my ticket to Journalist Heaven – Alpha Centauri or wherever- the place where courageous journalists go when they leave this venue.
One last, last thing.
I believe the FBI/WSP stake-out team wasn’t looking for Tavares in the woods, but rather they were seeking other operatives – perhaps the guys who had set up Tavares by first freeing him from prison, then sliding him into easy-peasy probation and on a plane to Sea-Tac. These operatives may have selected Brian and Beverly as the ideal couple to kill.
I think a bunch of white hats in the Boston FBI field office told their counterparts in Seattle what was going down, and a local posse of good guys tried to stop the double homicide. But somebody got to them, and pulled them out of Graham and let Tavares do his dirty work.
Further, I think Daniel Tavares is a kind of hit man for the very powerful, a guy who is kept on ice in a state penitentiary until needed. Tavares has a long history of making deals with prison officials, not the least of which is getting released from Walpole Prison on “good behavior” even though he had over 100 written citations for physical violence against prison guards and other inmates. In fact, at his release Danny was facing felonies for attacking two prison guards, one of whom he hit in the face with his plaster-casted arm that he had broken in a prior fight.
Also, two known deals that Danny T has made include an appearance in court as a state witness to get a couple of prison guards off the hook for leaving a prison cell door open against regs. The cell occupant, a pedophile priest from the Boston archdiocese, was later found stomped to death by unknown assailants believed to have been inmates. Tavares testified that the guards did not leave the door open and that other inmates had left it ajar, and the jury bought the story.
In addition, Danny earned favor with officials by taking them to a gravesite in New Bedford where the remains of a missing woman were found – one of many disappeared Massachusetts gals lost in a crime spree akin to our Green River killing phenomena. Danny said he was present at the burial but not involved in the murder.
By the way, Daniel T Tavares was first placed in prison because he stabbed his mother 26 times with a butcher knife.
So now you’ve got my story about Mitt and the Maucks, and what is really going on in the world. What follows next is my reporting in The Dispatch.
Mauck Murders Investigation – compendium of published stories from The Dispatch; www.dispatchnews.com
November 18, 2007
Graham stunned by double homicide
Graham residents Brian A Mauck, 30, and his wife Beverly J, 28, are dead. Their bodies were discovered late Saturday afternoon in their home at 30513 70th Ave E, by a neighbor.
Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies and Graham Fire and Rescue personnel are exceptionally tight-lipped about this crime, not even releasing specific information on how the couple was killed other than to say they died by “homicidal violence.”
However, Detective Ed Troyer of the PCSD stated that “nothing seems to be missing or disturbed in the house,” suggesting that the murders are not drug-related or part of a robbery.
“However, at this point, we are not ruling anything out,” said Troyer, adding, “We don’t who, how or why; so we have a lot of work to do.”
Officials say the couple married about eight months ago at the same time they moved into their brand new ranch-style home just off Kapowsin Highway on 70th Ave, which is located half-way between Mountain Highway and Webster Rd. Brian is reported to have worked for Emerald Aire, an air-conditioning company in Auburn.
Shock, disbelief and fear are many of the emotions Graham is experiencing in the wake of this tragedy.
“What a horrific thing to have happen in the neighborhood,” said Ivan Jensen, who lives nearby on Webster Rd. “I just hope they get a handle on it quickly. That’ll determine how the community responds. I’m just relieved my wife and I live close to the road and have a lot of neighbors nearby – that’s reassuring in a situation like this.”
Troyer said investigators are baffled by the lack of compelling evidence. “Usually when we enter a murder scene,” he explained, “we get a number of clues right away that point us in a direction. That is not the case here. We haven’t found anything that points us in any direction.
“This was a straight-up couple,” Troyer continued. “They had lots of friends, they traveled; they lived life and had a lot of fun. We can not find any reason why this would happen. There’s no disgruntled member of their family who would want to do this; no problems with the neighbors or anyone at work. There is nothing that we know that would lead to their peril.”
Indeed, they were cared for. Within hours, friends placed memorial flowers on the front lawn. Unfortunately, the only ones to enjoy their beauty were the dozens of Sheriff’s deputies looking for clues and members of the media watching them.
Results of the autopsies are expected early in the week and officials are hoping this evidence will finally give them a direction.
Details concerning family arrangements and memorial services are unknown at this time.
November 24, 2007
Crime, Double Homicide, Part II
Political outcry deepens as slain Graham couple remembered
Brian and Beverly Mauck, the Graham couple murdered in their home last weekend, were honored in a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 24 in Federal Way.
“They will be remembered for living life to the fullest, their infectious smiles, contagious laughter and the way they loved each other,” proclaimed a family announcement. The Mauck’s had been married May 5, 2006 in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Yet, the circumstances of their murder are still not completely understood, and an associated political storm is now brewing as well.
What is known is that police have imprisoned Daniel Tavares, Jr. and report that he has confessed to the killings. Tavares’ new wife, the former Jennifer Freitas, was also arrested on criminal assist charges for helping with a cover-up. She is free on bail.
Sheriff officials say Tavares entered the Mauck’s home at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 and killed the couple execution-style with three shots to the head from a 22 caliber hand gun. The question is why.
“His story that the Mauck’s owed him $50 is uncorroborated,” said Ed Troyer, spokesperson for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Troyer also said that “nothing is missing from the house, as far as we know,” suggesting that money was not a motive. Troyer describes Tavares as “a sociopath,” and says, “We believe he had been up all night drinking and drugging.” Officials say the truth may never be fully known.
According to published reports, court documents say Tavares had a verbal altercation with the Mauck’s once he entered their home, and shot them in retaliation.
Further, in nationwide media coverage, Tavares is described as having had a long history of violent crime, and was released from a Massachusetts prison last June after serving sixteen years for murdering his mother with a knife. He had also been charged with the attempted murder of his mother’s friend who had tried to intercede. Outstanding warrants supposedly await him in Florida for robbery, and Massachusetts also had charges against him for assaulting prison guards while serving his sentence. Massachusetts also issued a warrant for his arrest when he failed to show for probation court dates after release. In addition, while in prison he wrote death threats against former Governor Mitt Romney.
The circumstances of Tavares’ release from prison have sparked a national controversy. According to the Boston Herald, local prosecutors petitioned Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman to act on the prison guard assault charges just before his release. They also asked that, even though his prison term had been served, to not release Tavares without significant bail and other public safeguards, such as a monitoring bracelet. Judge Tuttman denied their requests and released Tavares on his own recognizance. He then left the state and moved to Graham to be with Ms. Freitas, whom he later married.
A political outcry has arisen because Tuttman was appointed to her position by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts. The Boston Herald writes that presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani is using this incident as a political weapon, claiming that “Governor Romney did not have a good record in dealing with violent crime.”
Governor Romney is currently calling for Judge Tuttman to resign. Romney’s spokesperson, Eric Ferhnstrom, is quoted in the Boston Herald: “Her decision represented an inexplicable lapse of judgment and was inexcusable.”
But here in Washington, Daniel Tavares Jr is now facing two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, the only crime in Washington punishable by the death penalty.
Crime, Double Homicide, Hard Copy III
Post for December 5, 2007 Issue
December 2, 2007
Police warned Graham neighborhood before homicides
The FBI and Washington State Police suspected Daniel Thomas Tavares Jr. was in Graham and frequenting the 70th Ave neighborhood at least three weeks before the murder of Brian and Beverly Mauck, a neighbor revealed this week. The police appear to have been fully informed to Tavares’ violent history as well.
Lance Jabaay, a close neighbor and friend of the Mauck’s, told The Dispatchthat he spoke with a police official “parked at the end of my driveway” at least three weeks before the Mauck murder on Nov. 17.
“He said he was from the FBI, but his business card said he was from the Washington State Patrol,” Jabaay said. Jabaay also stated that the officer handed him a photograph of Tavares, and told Jabaay to let them know if he saw Tavares in the neighborhood. This officer also warned, “He (Tavares) is a really bad dude, so be careful.”
This confirms reports in the Boston Herald that the Massachusetts State Police had asked their Washington colleagues to find Tavares as early as the beginning of October. In published reports, the Washington State Patrol acknowledged that they had received the request, but claim they had been unable to find Tavares.
It is unclear when the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department learned that Tavares was a dangerous criminal. For the deaths of Brian and Beverly Mauck, Tavares has been charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.
Ed Troyer, spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, told The Dispatchthat Tavares and his wife voluntarily came down to the City-CountyBuilding in Tacoma at 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, Nov. 28, more than 24 hours after the investigation had started. Troyer said that they had come to render drawings of a red pick-up truck they had earlier told investigators they had seen leaving the Maucks’ house on Saturday morning, supposedly after hearing gun shots. Troyer indicated that it was only after this exchange with the Tavares’ that they became the chief suspects in the case, and after further questioning were arrested at 10:40 p.m.
Also unclear is the role of the computerized nationwide criminal data base. The Boston Herald has reported that the Massachusetts State Police placed Tavares on the site in August, announcing he had left Massachusetts illegally and had an arrest warrant outstanding due to missing a probation hearing July 23.
Details, however, have been forthcoming on how Tavares came to Graham and how authorities suspected he was here.
According to the Worcester (MA) Telegram, Barry Dynice, the Public Defender for Tavares, not only knew of Jennifer Freitas, but had spoken with her by phone and told the court she lived in Washington.
The Freitas’ are long-time residents of Graham, and Jennifer Freitas is reported to have met Tavares on-line through a pen-pal site catering to inmates. According to the Massachusetts Department of Corrections, they would have needed a third-party to do so since Tavares was in a maximum security prison and prohibited from all use of a computer or any Internet access.
In Superior Court, Dynice described Jennifer Freitas as Tavares’ fiancé, and asked that the relationship be considered in determining whether Tavares should be released on his own personal recognizance. All this occurred before the now controversial Judge Kathe Tuttman. As a result, Massachusetts officials knew about Tavares’ connection to Washington as early as July 16.
Some important questions remain unanswered, especially whether the Mauck’s knew Tavares, and did the FBI and Washington State Patrol warn them as they did Jabaay?
December 28, 2007
Graham murders ignite national interest
The murders of Graham residents, Brian and Beverly Mauck on November 17 have attracted national attention, especially in Boston and New England. Highlighting that interest was the appearance in Graham recently of Boston Globe reporter, Scott Allen. Allen has written extensively on the case, particularly the history of Daniel T. Tavares, the alleged murderer of the Maucks. From Allen’s and other’s reports, we now know that in July, 2007, Tavares was released from custody in Massachusetts after serving 16 years for stabbing and killing his mother in 1991.
Tavares then arrived in Graham mid-summer, and on July 30 married Jennifer Freitas of 70th Ave, living with her directly across a large field from the Maucks. Tavares says he killed the Maucks over a $50 debt, but the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department claims that nothing was taken from the Mauck residence during the incident.
One of the factors fueling the sustained scrutiny has been the political fallout to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts. Romney appointed Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman, the individual who released Tavares on personal recognizance after he had finished serving his 16 years. Tavares was before Judge Tuttman for her ruling on his bail hearing regarding two counts of felonious assault against prison guards, which occurred in the latter stages of his imprisonment.
In addition, Massachusetts correctional officials gave Tavares, who had originally been sentenced to 17-20 years for his mother’s death, time-off for good behavior despite the alleged assaults on the guards.
Many charge that this official behavior shows a reckless disregard for the public safety. Republican presidential contenders Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain have criticized Governor Romney for placing Judge Tuttman on the bench, and for not administering a more vigilant oversight of his judicial and correctional departments while Governor.
Romney leads in the polls in New Hampshire, with Giuliani in second place and McCain close behind. The New Hampshire presidential primary is scheduled for January 8, hence, the keen interest by Boston-based media.
Allen’s visit to the area has revealed a new angle on the case: namely, the actions of Tavares just hours before the murder.
We now know that Tavares spent a portion of Friday evening, Nov. 16, at the Roundup Restaurant and Lounge in Graham. Barkeeps Tammy Hollingsworth and Justin Greenwood remember Tavares well.
“He was so arrogant,” says Hollingsworth. “We had never seen him before, but he came in here, and went right up to our regular customers and got in their face.”
Hollingsworth describes Tavares as being intrusive and bizarre, and making frightening comments about murdering three people in Boston. He also challenged patrons to go outside with him and do drugs.
“He kept telling people he had an ounce of crystal meth in his pocket,” says Hollingsworth. “We don’t tolerate any drugs here at all, so he had to go.”
Hollingsworth also claims that Tavares was never disrespectful or rude, nor intoxicated or high. She also said that Tavares ordered a beer but gave it away, and also bought two older women a round of drinks.
“But when he left the bar, he stayed in the parking lot in his car,” she stated, “so I went out and told him to leave. He kept saying he didn’t want any trouble and was polite, but Justin came out, and it was Justin who got him to leave.”
However, Tavares came back to the bar a second time later that night.
“I saw him again in the parking lot,” she says, “in his car with a couple of people I know. They were all as high as a kite, including Tavares.”
Again, Hollingsworth and Greenwood forced him to leave the premises.
At some point, between then and early Saturday morning, Tavares entered the Mauck home and killed Brian Mauck with three shots to the head with a 22 pistol. Then, after an apparent struggle, he killed Beverley Mauck with again, three head shots.
Currently, Tavares is incarcerated at Pierce County Jail and is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, the only crime in Washington state punishable by death.
February 16, 2008
Tavares pleads guilty in murderof Graham couple
Daniel T. Tavares pleaded guilty this week to two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree for the deaths of Brian and Beverly Mauck of Graham.
Tavares was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison without parole by Superior Court Judge Vicki L Hogan, as part of a plea deal announced two days prior by PierceCountyProsecuting AttorneyGeraldHome. In exchange for his admission of guilt, the state promised it would not seek the death penalty.
Tavares, heavily shackled and surrounded by corrections officers, appeared alert but subdued. He delivered his “guilty” pleas in even, moderate tones, and gave no evidence of his violent history. Prior to his release in July, 2007, Tavares had spent sixteen years in near-solitary confinement in Massachusetts correctional facilities for stabbing his mother over a dozen times in 1991, killing her.
The Maucks, who lived across the street from Tavares on 70th Ave in Graham, were murdered on the morning of November 17, 2007. Brian, 30, had been an air-conditioning installer for an Auburn company, and Beverly, 28, was a member of the office staff at Baydos in McKenna.
Over thirty members of Brian and Beverly’s family attended the plea hearing, and members of Beverly’s family, led by her mother Karen Slater, wore commemorative shirts emblazoned on the front with a picture of the slain couple, titled: “Among the Angels.”
After the sentencing, four members of the family were invited to address the court with “impact statements.” Since Tavares was still in the courtroom, family members were instructed to speak directly to the judge. Jennifer Heilbrun, Brian Mauck’s sister, was first:
“This is the kind of thing that we see on TV every day, and we say to ourselves, ‘Oh, this happens to other people,’ but it happened to us.” She described the murders as a “ridiculous tragedy” and spoke emotionally on how her close-knit family had been torn apart. “We were like one,” she said, and added, “All I want is my family back.”
Heilbrun finished her remarks by delivering comments intended for Tavares: “I will hate you forever, but my heart tells me that I need to forgive you, so I do forgive you. May God have mercy on your soul.”
Next, Karen Slater expressed a range of emotions and insights, repeatedly calling Tavares “a punk,” but also admonishing him to “contemplate what you have lost because Brian and Beverly had accepted you into their lives, too.”
Slater acknowledged that she had “almost died giving birth to Bev,” and declared that “Bev was an amazing person.” She described how her daughter’s cheerfulness and love of life was not only a joy to share, but inspiring, also. “Beverly and Brian taught us how to laugh,” she said.
Beverly’s two brothers also spoke. Craig Slater spoke briefly and angrily, again calling Tavares “a punk;” but DJ Slater addressed the court in a thoughtful and earnest manner even though his speech was halting due to brain injuries incurred from a childhood car accident:
“Bev was the only…one…who could calm….me down. And I’ll miss the tail gate…parties at the Seahawks….games. And the hunting and fishing trips…and the four-wheel driving trips…That’s all gone….because Daniel Tavares…did…what he did.”
In remarks during a press conference held after the hearing, Heilbrun expressed satisfaction that the plea deal had been offered and accepted. “I’m grateful it went as quickly as it did. It feels like some big brick is breaking up, and I feel almost human again.”
Karen Slater echoed those sentiments and said that she was relieved that the ordeal was over. “We can now go on to the next step, the grieving.”
When asked about the impact of the loss in her family’s lives, Karen Slater surprised many in the audience by returning to her comments she had directed to Tavares earlier. “Daniel Tavares had a chance to a part of their lives. That was the kind of person Brian and Beverly each were. They accepted him. They were just wonderful people who touched everyone with their smiles, their blue eyes, and their love. They taught us all so much about love.”
© 2012 Bruce A. Smith