Section One
 

Friday,
April 8, 2005

Volume 33,
Issue 14

Fri, Oct 31, 2014

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Attackers cut throat of Good Samaritan
Attackers cut throat of Good Samaritan - Victim receives 44 stitches and 37 staples in his chest and head
by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

On a sterile, steel operating table, Tim Alf, a 32-year-old Seattle resident, was on the verge of being pronounced clinically dead. His heart had stopped, and his vitals were dropping. Several minutes passed before, through some miracle of modern medicine, he was resuscitated. His wounds remain very serious, but he survived to see another day. He may even see justice done to the two down-on-their-luck men he had befriended but who ended up attacking him. Alf is the victim of a brutal attack stemming from a good deed - that almost cost him his life.

At SGN presstime, his two accused assailants, both of whom pleaded not guilty, sat in King County Jail awaiting their fate. It remains unclear whether Alf’s sexual orientation had anything directly to do with the attack, although one of his accused assailants said he attacked Alf because he believed Alf may have been flirting with him - the “panic defense.” Suspects using this defense could face increased the attackers’ sentences should they be convicted under Washington State’s malicious harassment law, which provides enhanced penalties for crimes committed against someone because of their sexual orientation. However, detectives say they are leaning toward a more straightforward murder-then-robbery motive.



GOOD DEED GONE BAD

In an interview with the SGN this week, this is how Alf laid out the sequence of events:

On March 15, Alf finished his duties at the Madison Market where he works as a front-end manager. He went home to his apartment at 501 Malden Ave. East in Seattle where he had a couple glasses of wine. Then, he met friends at The Canterbury Pub on 15th Ave. East and on the way back, he ran into Michael Louis Vashi on the corner of 15th and Republican. Vashi had been selling the Real Change newspaper in front of the Madison Market for about four months so Vashi was not unfamiliar to Alf. Vashi, a 22-year-old Caucasian man, then introduced Alf to his friend, Kelly Xavier Jorgensen.

Alf had no way of knowing that both men had long arrest records or that Jorgensen, a 45-year-old African-American man, had been released from jail only a day earlier so he invited the men over for some food and a shower.

“Michael had been selling the Real Change newspaper outside my work for three or four months, so, I thought I could trust him,” said Alf. “I invited him over for a couple beers, him and Xavier. I thought they could take a shower or whatever.”

Alf and Jorgensen went to the QFC on 15th to purchase a 12-pack of beer while Vashi waited outside. The men returned to Alf’s apartment, a place he had moved into only two weeks before. Alf drank one beer while the two men finished off the rest. After approximately half an hour, the men told Alf they had something to do on Broadway but might return later. Alf continued to watch TV but feel asleep on the living room floor.

Unbeknownst to Alf, the two men did return, but they picked the security gate lock and quietly entered his apartment. Alf said he awoke to see the two men standing over him, each holding a metal folding chair that he had provided to them earlier that evening. Without provocation, Alf said, the men began beating him with the chairs. “I got up and asked, ‘Why are you doing this? What are you doing?’,” he recalled.

Alf said that’s when Jorgensen began striking him in the chest. At first, Alf said he did not realize he was being stabbed with a knife that had a four-inch blade until blood began flowing heavily from the wounds. Alf said he began yelling for help then fled through the dining room looking for a way to escape but, he said, Vashi grabbed him with one arm around his chest and held him by the hair with his other hand.

Alf said he broke his dining room window with his bare hand and continued yelling for help. As Vashi held him, Alf said Jorgensen slit his throat twice and again across the back of his neck. Alf said that’s when a “primal instinct” kicked in. He wrestled free and ran out the front door, into the street, yelling for help as blood slowly filled his lungs.

Several people called 911 to report the commotion and said they saw Vashi flee northbound while Jorgensen fled eastbound. Vashi was apprehended a short distance from the scene by Seattle Police. According to a police report, Vashi had discarded his shirt but he still had blood all over him and the shirt he discarded was recovered, soaked in blood. Det. J. L. Cooper of the homicide division sent out an All-Points-Bulletin for Jorgensen.

“I was pretty scared,” Alf said. “I was pretty confused. I really didn’t know why it was happening. I was just hoping I was going to make it. I didn’t know how bad it was until later on.”

At the hospital, doctors went to work applying pressure to his wounds and conducting tests on his autonomic reflexes. Soon after, they wheeled him into the operating room. Alf said doctors weren’t sure he would survive more than a few more minutes.

“I almost died. I was basically dead on the operating table,” Alf remembered being told. “They opened up my ribs and performed surgery on my heart and stitched that up. I had something wrong with my lungs – they had to drain them. Pretty scary.”

When he awoke in the Intensive Care Unit, he had 44 stitches on the outside of his body and 37 titanium staples in his chest and head. He had cuts and deep bruises all over his body. Alf remained hospitalized for four days, during which Det. Cooper took a taped statement from him regarding the incident. Alf learned that Vashi said he attacked him because he thought Alf was flirting with him. However, Cooper theorized that the men planned to kill Alf and steal his property after he was dead. Jorgensen was apprehended in the University District of Seattle on March 19.

Soon thereafter, Cooper conducted a videotaped interview with Jorgensen during which the detective told Jorgensen that Vashi had implicated him in the incident. Jorgensen flatly denied any involvement. However, Cooper noticed small cuts on his hands and collected his clothes for evidence. Under several layers of clothes was a large amount of dried blood. The soles of Jorgensen’s white socks were soaked with blood; his dark blue jeans had dried blood on the thigh area. In addition, his pullover jacket had dried blood on the chest area, back area and both sleeves. On March 22, Cooper was notified that prints recovered at the scene matched Jorgensen’s.



VICTIM NOW FACES EVICTION

When he was released from the hospital, Alf learned he had been victimized once again. His landlord, Curtis West, had posted an eviction notice on the door and had informed his family that Alf’s first and last month’s rent and his deposit would not be returned. West said he is withholding the money because of damage done to the apartment as a result of the attack, citing the blood on the carpet, the broken window, and the curtains the police took as evidence. Adding insult to injury, the landlord took Alf’s cat to the pound. West failed to return our calls this week seeking comment.

“My landlord keeps calling around to my friends and family trying to get information on me,” said Alf. “He’s out to get as much money as he can. He won’t give me back my deposit or anything at all because of the spilled blood on the carpet. I can’t believe he is so concerned over the five-year-old carpet… I only lived there for two weeks. I haven’t got any of my rent back or anything.”

Alf has since moved in with his parents, but he hopes to return to Capitol Hill where he has lived for last five years. However, he said it might take awhile considering the “astronomical” medical costs he will have to bear.

“I didn’t have insurance. I didn’t think anything like this was going to come up. I am sure going to get it now though,” he said. “I still have a lot of medical appointments to come so I may be stuck paying off these bills for the rest of my life. I would hate to ruin my credit by having to declare bankruptcy.”

Under doctor’s orders, Alf is unable to return to work for two months. He has been told not to lift anything over 10 pounds or risk causing further damage to his numerous internal injuries. Alf praised his employer, Madison Market, for their support. “They have been great. They have been holding my job for me. They saw me in the hospital,” said Alf.

According to Caple Melton, a spokesperson for Madison Market, they are accepting donations for Alf and making tin cans for every checkstand. Some employees are also donating their paid-time-off to Alf and are even planning a benefit. “We are looking to do whatever we can for Tim,” said Melton. “He has been a great employee and, more importantly, a great friend. We want him to know we appreciate that.”

Alf says he will continue to help those in need. “They would win if I didn’t. That is the way I feel,” he said. “I was just trying to be a nice guy. I have always had a soft heart. I am still going to help people out, but in different ways… I will probably do some charity work, volunteer or something.”



SHOCK, SADNESS

AT REAL CHANGE

Both men accused of attacking Alf worked for a low-level employment program that allows the homeless to sell copies of Real Change, a biweekly newspaper created and sold by the homeless in Seattle. According to Real Change Executive Director Tim Harris, Vashi had worked as a vendor for approximately five years and Jorgensen had been selling the paper off and on since 2001. However, both men have since been fired after the paper was contacted by the SGN.

“A crime like this is [counter] to everything that Real Change stands for,” said Harris. “We are all about human rights and human dignity. I am appalled that our vendors had anything to do with this.”

Harris said that none of the staff recognized Jorgensen when reviewing copies of vendor photos taken for the distinctive badges that Real Change vendors are required to wear, but he had received “a few hundred papers over the last few months.” Vashi, on the other hand, had been well liked by many Real Change staff.

“We have actually known Michael for quite awhile. Rachel, who is our associate director, knows him from when she worked at the University District Youth Center when he was a client there,” said Harris. “So, he had been a vendor for quite awhile. He is one of the vendors that spend some time hanging out here in the office and chatting with the staff. That is why it is so hard for us.

“None of us can really imagine Michael doing something like this. I not trying to defend him, but everything I know of him is that something this shockingly cruel is out of character for him.”

A spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Dan Donohoe, told the SGN that Jorgensen, who is being held on $200,000 bail, has been charged with Assault in the First Degree. Vashi on is being held on $100,000 bail and has also been charged with Assault in the First Degree.

“We wanted to file a charge to keep the defendants in custody and we could look at amending it at a later date,” said Donohoe. “Assault in the First Degree carries a very long sentence range. Both defendants have criminal histories, so the sentence range goes up based on that.”

Donohoe said that Attempted Murder in the Second Degree and Malicious Harassment charges had not been ruled out. Washington State’s malicious harassment law enhances the penalties for criminals convicted of acts of hate motivated violence. The law had been expanded to include sexual orientation in 1993.

Jorgensen and Vashi both entered pleas of not guilty and are expected to appear for a case setting hearing on April 11 in King County Superior Court.

GENERAL GAYETY
Leslie Robinson

NOT THINKING
STRAIGHT
Madelyn Arnold