Friday, January 4, 2013

The Crossbow Incident

Psychos among us...
by Robert A. Waters

Eighty-nine-year-old Ralph Aldrich, lounging in his back yard, saw a stranger approaching from the woods behind his home in Grays County, Washington.  The man, wearing camouflage, said, "I know what you are."  Looking up in alarm, Aldrich turned to walk back into his house.  That's when John F. Chase shot him with a crossbow.  The arrow pierced Aldrich's back, and the startled homeowner fell to the ground.  Chase dragged the wounded man to the carport, and left him there.

Chase entered the home and encountered June Aldrich, 83.  Striking her in the head with the blunt end of a hatchet, the assailant stole the couple's pickup truck and drove to a friend's home.

The arrest warrant describes what happened next: "On the evening of November 4, 2011, Jarrod M. Byron was contacted by the defendant at Byron's residence in Hoquiam.  The defendant explained to Byron that demons were out to get him.  He told Byron that he had killed the demons.  Byron noticed that the defendant had blood on his clothing.  Byron noted that the defendant had driven to the residence in a gray Chevrolet S10 pickup...The pickup was registered to Ralph and June Aldrich of Humptulips, Washington.

"Byron spoke to the Hoquiam police who spoke to the defendant.  [Chase] was eventually taken to Grays Harbor Community Hospital to be seen by a mental health professional.  He was taken to the Grays Harbor Crisis Clinic to spend the evening.

"On the morning of November 5, 2011, Byron, based upon information he had seen in the pickup truck drove to the Aldrich address in Humptulips.  He found an elderly male, later identified as Ralph Aldrich, face down on the ground outside the residence.  Byron called 911 and deputies responded.  Mr. Aldrich was found to be dead.  Deputies observed injuries consistent with an assault and observed blood on the ground near the body.  Mr. Aldrich was later observed to have a through and through wound to his chest.

"[A] deputy went into the residence and found an elderly female, later identified as June Aldrich, Mr. Aldrich's wife.  She was on the floor in the residence.  Officers observed significant blunt force injuries to her head.  However, she was still alive.  An aid crew was called and Mrs. Aldrich was transported to Community Hospital and thereafter to Harborview Medical Center.

"Byron was later reinterviewed.  He advised that the defendant told him that he had killed the demons with a crossbow and hatchet.  Officers had observed a crossbow near Mr. Aldrich's body.  Byron told officers that he had observed a hatchet inside the S10 pickup truck that the defendant had driven to his residence.

"The defendant was located and taken into custody.  Following advice of Miranda, the defendant admitted that he had been camping in the woods near the Aldrich residence.  He described going to the Aldrich residence and killing the demons.  Deputies were later able to locate a small campsite near the Aldrich residence."

The injuries suffered by June Aldrich were horrific.  Her teeth had been knocked out, and her face crushed.  One week later, the victim died of her wounds.

Controversy quickly erupted.

The family of Ralph and June Aldrich blamed the Hoquiam Police Department for mishandling the case.  "I think the Hoquiam police are responsible for my aunt's death," David Aldrich said.

Bob Riddell, June's son and stepson of Ralph, said: "I think they definitely dropped the ball.  If they could have at least contacted the county sheriff and asked them to do a stop by, then my mom might still be alive.  She lay there for about 18 or 19 hours. According to what the doctors told us, if she would have been found sooner, there was a possibility she would have still been alive."  Since Ralph bled to death, family members feel that a quick response may have saved his life, too.

After hearing the criticism directed at his department, Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers responded, "I believe the officers acted on the information they had that evening."

Chase was charged with the murders of Ralph and June Aldrich.  But after several mental evaluations, a judge found John Francis Chase not guilty by reason of insanity.  The man who claimed to see demons escaped prison--he was sent to a mental institution.


Janie said...

Very interesting. My first thought as I was reading was that help was not gotten fast enough for the injured. Flags should have gone off for the friend and especially the deputies/police to run the tags and get to the residence.

Unknown said...

Its either everybody's fault, or nobody's fault either way it is tragic.

Eric said...

I am the grandchild of Ralph and June Aldrich, there is much more to this story and cover-up by the Hoquiam police department. If you search Humptulips Murder and Seattle Times, you will see the original police report that show some significant inconsistencies. I honestly believe that Mr. Chase would have been tried had the Police Department not wanted their mistakes to stay hidden. I believe that this is the reason for the year of continuances followed by the acquittal based on temporary insanity. If anyone is interested I can describe the blunder in detail.

Unknown said...

My brother John didn't escape anything, he has to live with what he has done and that is truly punishment. If people think there is no mental illness involved, let me be the first to tell you that you're wrong. I had to watch my brother go through hell as a teenager with mental illnesses, just because some people in our family didn't believe in such things. So y'all can go to hell in a handbasket for all I care.

Eric said...

Who the hell is y'all? My beef is not with your brother for what he did. My beef is with the Hoquiam Police department for such things as not checking on my Grandparents well being after your Brother's friend called the police and told them what happened and after finding out that this was not his truck. The fact that because they did not do their job that both my grandparents are dead. Your brother shot my grandpa thru the back with a crossbow that passed clean thru his chest missing vital organs, he then beat and drug him to the carport where he bled to death hours later. After this he makes his way into the house and attacks my Grandmother striking her repeatedly with a Hatchet breaking her jaw, crushing her skull, she layed on the bathroom floor for 18 hours waiting before your bother's friend finally decided to bring the truck back to my grandparents house when he discovered my Grandpa's body finally alerted the police and enter the home to find my grandma still alive and alert trembling in fear because she believed it to be your precious brother coming back to finish the job. There is also more to this story before she finally died from her injuries a full week later, they gave her a board with letters on it to spell out answers to questions, when they asked if she knew who did it, she spelled out John most likely because he had been to the house and my grandma had fed him. Don't you dare run your mouth about John not escaping anything, it was my grandparents that didn't escape anything. Don't get me wrong, I forgave your brother long before this trial was even over, because you do not do what he did if you are in the right state of mind, that being said what the police did is disgusting. Your bother had my grandmas blood on him when they questioned him, the bloody hatchet was in the truck, they seen your brother was acting excited and instead of following up and doing their job, they talked him into going to the crisis center and gave him a ride. They didn't even do a tox screen until nearly 2 days later. But worst of all is they went and changed the report, completely tried to bury the first and just re did it. I just thank god for John's friend, who was the only one that did something other wise my grandma would have died on that bathroom floor, The most tragic part of this whole story is that both of my grandparents could have survived their wounds had help arrived sooner.