After the series of interviews at The Sanctuary, I was interested in interviewing a few of the residents. Some months later I had the time and opportunity to interview Lettie, who at the time had been a resident for several months. I met her previously when I wrote the story about The Sanctuary and was intrigued by her situation .Over the years, I have met and written articles on actors, actresses, politicians and others of great interest to the public. I also write stories based on firsthand accounts by famous and infamous criminals. The characters most interesting to me are some those who played a key part in World War II; even though I had started writing many years after the war. Those people, both men and women, seemed to have special qualities. A level of honesty and acceptance of reality, that presently, is a rare commodity. I had not encountered that level of clarity until recently when I became acquainted with The Sanctuary.
Lettie was tall, at least five foot eight, but appeared taller, she was thin with dark brown hair and well muscled. She spoke with a clear and distinct voice, which was a little lower than what I expected from a woman. She wasn’t glamorous or a sensational beauty; however, she was pleasant and attractive.
But, what she did have, was a presence that is hard to explain. I was familiar with actresses, many of whom had a presence that filled the room with excitement, which often made people anxious and some even felt honored with the few moments of their time. Meeting Lettie was just as powerful, yet in a different way. She seemed accepting, in no hurry, and was honored that someone took an interest in her story. This was the kind of person you know would make a really great friend and I won’t define it beyond that.
The following story was written from my notes and taped interviews that took place in a little over three days at The Sanctuary. She has a daughter and an aunt who stayed some six weeks at The Sanctuary, but both returned to Spokane some months ago.
Lettie described herself as having a dark cloud over her head during childhood. In early childhood she lived near Seattle and with one sister and five brothers. At ten, she and three brothers moved to Portland to live with their grandparents. The two youngest brothers and baby sister went to live with her aunt, Elizabeth, in Spokane.
Lettie’s parents had been in a car accident; her mother died and her father survived, but was in a nursing facility with severe mental and physical disabilities.
Her father had been successful in the banking business and her mother was a model. After starting a family her mother no longer worked, except for writing a column for a couple of local papers on show business personalities and general gossip. Both parents were regularly involved in family activities.
After the accident which devastated her family, life was dull, and she felt alone most of the time. Something significant had changed inside of her. The alone-ness was not because she was isolated, she had her grandparents, brothers and friends. And, all of whom cared for her a great deal. She was younger than her brothers and did have companionship from them. Her older brother, Tim, watched out for her and she felt secure with him.
Her grandparents were good to her and rarely disciplined her so she grew up with few boundaries. She spent a lot of time with her grandmother and her grandparents both spent money freely on her. Having three older brothers she learned to fight and sometimes even enjoyed it. Her life was really perfectly fine, but boredom was her most frequent enemy. It was a struggle in school to maintain a C average, probably due to a lack of interest. The one thing that did interest her was the graphic arts. Drawing by hand or with a computer or photography could hold her interest and she definitely had talent.
At fifteen, she found two antidotes to boredom, boys and prescription drugs. Her friend Gail who lived next door usually could supply the drugs. At first it was Valium and later they learned they could go to a few drug stores and load up on pseudo-ephedrine. With a handful of pseudo-ephedrine the fun would begin. Sometimes, with luck they had uppers, downers and booze.
The boys were transportation, and a means to drugs, and booze. The first time she sniffed coke she knew it was the start of a new life. By the time she graduated from high school, she had a plan to go to graphics arts school, and landed a part time job in the graphics arts field. She lightened up on the drugs during school and after two years she completed her course work. Next, she went to work full-time at the graphics arts business. Then, she could get really blasted on the weekends.
A long-term relationship for Lettie was three months. She met Bill who was an engineer at Boeing Aircraft. After six weeks he wanted her to move in with him and finally she said she would give it a try. Bill was an ex-marine who drank a little, never used drugs and was tolerant of her lifestyle. He was generally a good guy with occasional periods when he tended to be a little dull. She kept her apartment and housekeeping service. Their set-up lasted less than a week. When she moved out, she tried to explain to Bill, and all she could think of was she felt claustrophobic. Inside of two weeks the relationship completely fizzled.
Other than numerous brief relationships, there was Roger, and that lasted way too long. He worked for UPS and was to available night and day. After a few weeks, she was tired of him, but it was hard to get rid of him. Finally, she told him plain and simple, “Leave me the hell alone.”
He couldn’t seem to get it. When she went to her favorite bar, he was there, when she went home he was waiting. The idiot even bought crack and left it in her mail box. Then, it got worse. He would unlock her car and leave a note saying, if you don’t treat me right, I will see that the police know about your crack habit.
Once, the owner of the company called her in his office, he said there was a telephone call on his line that was urgent, and he thought it was her fiancé. She came home one day to find the cat had a snake in the kitchen she had killed. Though, she figured the snake was probably harmless the meaning was clear. There was food in the cat’s dish that she had not put there. And, she didn’t have it checked-out, but guessed the food may have been laced with rat poison. Of course, the cat wasn’t stupid and never touched the stuff.
Lettie made a list of some thirty or more incidents from when Roger had tried to terrorize her and took them to a psychologist, informally. The psychologist was a boy friend of Lettie’s friend, and he gave her an analysis as a favor. He told her a long technical analysis of Roger, but what she wanted to know was what to expect from Roger in the future.
When Ben, the psychologist, finally got to the bottom line, he said, “Roger is very dangerous and mentally seriously unstable.” He added, without intensive psychological care he would, at some time in the next few years decompensate, which Lettie interpreted as crack-up. He could easily be homicidal or suicidal. The psychologist also predicted the more she retaliated, the more he would accelerate his efforts; he would not have the ability to give it up. His recommendation was to go to the police and also an attorney for a restraining order.
Lettie had tried the police before and their response was about the same as if she had told them someone took her newspaper. She would have to form a plan on her own. She checked her cat and then tore out of the parking lot in her Mercedes, went to the store and bought five pounds of Limburger cheese. From there, she went to his house and filled his mailbox with a pound of Limburger. Next stop was his new Honda. She ice picked each tire, used a hammer to the window, and coated the seats with the rest of the cheese.
When she went home she thought, holy shit, do I stink? After showering and throwing her clothes into the basket to be washed by Maria, her maid, she slept like a baby. Revenge is sweet. He called the cops on her, but all that went on was a few brief questions. It was obvious they could care less.
He tried calling her a few times, but stayed away from her apartment. He left threatening messages on her voice-mail, both at home and at work. He put some kind of smoke bomb under the hood of her car, which scared the crap out of her, but didn’t seem to hurt anything.
She was really getting pissed at him. She sent him dead fish through UPS, of course, and other nasty stuff, sometimes just garbage.
The final straw was when opened her refrigerator and there was a note on a pound of hamburger saying, this is your cat if you don’t come to your senses.
The next time she messed with him she was inspired. She forged a document and had it sent by a friend who lived in Dallas to Roger’s employer. It was on a letterhead from the district attorney stating if you have any information on Roger Miller please contact us immediately, he is a convicted pedophile and a person of interest in a case of necrophilia. Their document ended with three eight hundred numbers.
The next week when she was at work, she often went into fits of laughter. Every time she thought of Roger, she just couldn’t restrain herself. Once, Alma came into Lettie’s office and thought she was crying or having a seizure. Lettie was laughing so hard, she cried and then choked.
She later heard Roger ended up in a psychiatric facility. When she knew he was out of the lock down section of the facility, she went to visit him.
He was outside in a patio area. He looked scared and generally awful when he finally recognized her. She had on a long dark coat and under that a white blouse and skirt, which could be confused with a nursing uniform.
She had a hypodermic in her pocket. When she opened her coat and showed him the hypodermic filled with a yellow substance, he froze. She then just tucked it in his pocket. Before leaving, she told him if he wanted to end all this, just use the hypodermic.
Actually, it probably wouldn’t have done more than give him a high glucose reading. Later, someone she knew who worked the night shift at the facility, told her Roger was back in lock up.
So, that ended the relationship with Roger, the rush, and the fits of laughter.
Ben was wrong she didn’t need an attorney or the police. She was honest enough with herself to admit that at times she enjoyed the game.
Shortly after, things went south for Lettie. The first thing that happened was a random drug screen at work and of all things she was positive for marijuana, which she used maybe three times a year. The Human Resources department called her in and told her she needed to go to inpatient treatment or she would be fired. She was offered the choice of three hospitals, all near Seattle, which was near her work. She chose one in downtown Seattle and stayed for three weeks.
Lettie didn’t mind treatment but wondered if she could stand the boredom of a drug free life. There was an intensive follow-up plan with twelve step meetings, counseling, and aftercare meetings.
She was a paragon of virtue for about six weeks after treatment, then started missing meetings, and soon fell into the old routine of hitting the crack and alcohol on weekends. All led back to HR and they decided to fire her. She was able to work out a plan where she would work as a consultant and make nearly as much as being an employee, but no benefits. She really wasn’t worried about keeping up her lifestyle because she could get whatever money she needed from her grandparents as often as she required. It was a little embarrassing, but life went on.
Boyfriends came and went. She decided when the relationships ended, however, usually the boyfriends weren’t terribly offended either. Then, the bomb dropped, she was pregnant. This was going to get complicated, how could she have been so dumb. She wasn’t even remotely sure who the father was.
Finally, she arranged to go to her aunt Elizabeth’s in Spokane, just before delivery. On June 14, she had a baby girl and named her Shelley. She stayed for six weeks before returning to her apartment near Seattle, without Shelley. Elizabeth didn’t seem to mind, she was nearly done raising her younger sister Gloria, and her two brothers were already on their own, so this would fill the emptiness.
On with life and back to consultant work. But, this time it was different, when she had the baby she also had her tubes tied. No more mistakes.
She made an effort to keep in contact with the baby and averaged about six weekend visits a year. She started getting acquainted with her sister Gloria. Gloria wanted to start college in Seattle, so she asked to stay with Lettie. Lettie decided to give it a try.
Lettie was almost five foot eight, when she wore heels she looked at least six foot tall. Due to smoking crack on the weekends, she would periodically get way too skinny. When her friends would tell her to gain weight, she would say, I know I look like a crack whore and you can’t see me when I turn sideways. She really had remarkable features and build, but she didn’t put much effort into being attractive. All things being equal, she was better looking than Gloria, even though she was nine years older.
Gloria was different, she lived for being attractive to men and having men drooling over her. She spent more time on makeup, and clothes, and fashion magazines than Lettie did at her work. Lettie wondered when did that girl get her school work done? Soon, the telephone was ringing night and day. She was dragging guys in the apartment and they ate like starving dogs, but were more ill mannered. She didn’t mind the cost, just the mess and never having what she wanted to eat and drink. The incessant chatter of kids who looked physically like adults, but sounded and behaved like eight-year-olds was pathetic.
Then, there was Gloria who wanted to talk endlessly all hours of the day and night about boy friend problems. It bored Lettie beyond tolerance. What was wrong with that girl? Who cares if she thought Bobby was cute, but paid too much attention to some snotty girl? She couldn’t take another week of Gloria’s conversations that seemed to be of a vocabulary limited to not much beyond cute and cool. Finally, it was time and she talked to Gloria.
She told her, “You just have to get your own place. I can’t get my sleep; I have no privacy and often no food. I care about you, and will visit you, and help you with money, but you have got to go.”
Gloria cried and carried on, and finally, agreed. Because she said Lettie just didn’t understand her and she was being held back in her social life. Lettie thought to herself, it was the social life of idiots. Finally, she went and found a place closer to her college.
Once again, life was sweet. Then she met Tony who described himself as a business man from Brazil. He would call for his jet and they would go to Cancun or Santa Barbara. Once, they even flew to San Francisco and then went to Tahiti for a week. This was the life and Tony treated her like royalty. As relationships go, it started to get a little tedious at times, and Tony soon was gone a lot. So, on the weekends Lettie would go with some of her old friends to the tavern, for one hell of a weekend.
One time Tony came to her apartment on a Sunday night and she was completely used up by a weekend on booze and coke. She just wanted him out of there. He got really pissed and threatened her.
After that, it was a little better and he made cocaine available all the time. It seemed he had an endless supply. But, she even got tired of that and she wanted to get back to spending more time at her work. It really hit the fan when he said he wanted her to move in with him. No way was she going to do that, she was already feeling smothered.
She told Tony it was time to end the relationship and he went ballistic. He pulled out a gun, told her he decides when the relationship ends, and she was coming with him. Tony gave her a long lecture on what happens to women, their families and their friends who don’t comply. He made sure she understood that his network covered the United States and all the way down to, and including South America. So, there would be no escape. Nobody who belonged to him left alive.
She could pretend to be the compliant female for a short period of time. She told him she had to pack. She completed packing and slipped in a tape recorder, a camera, and the commando knife a former boy friend had left. She was surprised at how little he paid attention to what she did. She made a mental note that his major weakness was overconfidence and she would remember to use the same rules with Tony, that he and his associates used.
She moved into his downtown apartment, which was huge and actually magnificent. During the week she stayed there, Tony was gone at least half of the time. She went through his things and listened to his messages. Tony had a man who was there quite often and he checked up on her. His name was Nigel and he was supposed to be a hot shot attorney from New York. She thought he seemed more like an English butler who hadn’t been informed yet that he was gay.
She thought she would try anyway and made it known she might be sexually available to him. He warmed up to her, so he may not have been gay. He didn’t really take the bait, but he started acting like he liked her and seemed very close to colluding with her. She still didn’t trust him and she figured he didn’t sleep with her because he was terrified of Tony. Later she realized her perception was valid.
Between visits from Tony and Nigel she recorded evidence that Tony’s business was bringing in drugs, prostitution, selling illegal weapons, and trafficking in selling children to terrorists coming across the border from Mexico. After a week, she had enough evidence to destroy him.
She packed, put on a coat and placed the knife under her coat and started to leave. She was almost certain that he had someone watching her. She took her time and didn’t want to draw attention to her. She was ready with the knife to cut anyone’s guts out who challenged her. She thought for sure Nigel would pop up before she left the building; she wasn’t really afraid of him but didn’t relish silencing him either. She left without any problem and moved in with a friend. She went back to the apartment and picked up her car and parked it in her friend’s garage.
When she called and picked up her messages, she had a threatening message from Tony. She went to a telephone booth and called Tony and got his voicemail.
She said, “Listen you greasy little bastard, I have enough on you to put you away for good. If you know what is good for you, you will go back to the rock you crawled out from in Brazil.”
There were no messages from Tony for over a week. She did have a run in with some men who no doubt belonged to Tony. She was a block and a half away from where she was staying and driving her Mercedes. Two men in a black Mercedes pulled out and started to follow her. She remembered Tony’s lecture on how he never gives anyone a second chance, so that is the way she would play the game, too. After a few blocks she turned around, tightened her seat belt and headed straight for them with the intention of hitting them head on. If they were going to kill, her they were going to pay a price. They missed her by inches swerving sharply to their left, but they went off the road and hit a pole. They were playing chicken, but she wasn’t. They were obviously, at least dazed.
She started to get out of her car, not sure what she was going to do. Then she spotted a can of lighter fluid, she went over to their car, took off their gas cap, poured some of the fluid down the tank and over the car, lit a cigarette, took a few puffs, and threw it in the lighter fluid.
As Lettie went to the Seven/Eleven, she saw the fireball in the sky and later heard the sirens. She couldn’t help smiling.
The next message she received from Tony was chilling. He told her there was a child in Spokane and he had a market for the child from an Iranian customer. He would be in Seattle at the apartment in three days. Be there.
She suddenly realized, she cared for Shelley more than anything in the world; including her own safety. It took her half an hour to come up with a plan.
She called the police in Spokane and lucked out; however, she didn’t know it at the time. She reached a cop by the name of Jeff and he gave her two alternatives. One was to contact the FBI and the other was his experience of a place called The Sanctuary in Southern California, and they could help.
She was interested in The Sanctuary and said, tell me more. Due to the urgency and lack of time, he was brief. He said your aunt has custody of Shelley, she would have to go with the child to The Sanctuary. Staff would come and get them and they would be safe from any harm within twenty four hours.
Lettie decided on The Sanctuary and said, “What should I do?”
Jeff said call your aunt and alert her. Then you hide or go to The Sanctuary. Lettie called, and of course her aunt was skeptical until Lettie conferenced Jeff into the call. Then her aunt sounded a little hysterical, but agreed to the plan. Lettie was instructed to call The Sanctuary and give them information about how she dressed, the color and length of her hair, what kind of handbag did she carried, etc.
Lettie was done with her part but she wanted to know everything that was going on. First, she tried to buy a gun and that was going to be tied up in red tape for a couple of days. She wanted a 357 Magnum because a friend had taken her to the shooting range and she had learned to use a 357. Finally, the man at the store said if she kept her mouth shut, he would give her a 22 Ruger. She could come back in two or three days and get the magnum. She also bought lighter fluid, two flashlights, and the most powerful binoculars in the store. She filled the Mercedes and headed for Spokane.
This is from an Interview I Taped with Lettie
I got to Spokane about 3:00 A.M. and in checking things out, found at the water tower there was a small hill, which provided a vantage point of my aunt’s house. I saw a black car with two men in it, parked on the street across from my aunt’s house.
I then waited several hours before another black car, exactly like my Mercedes, pulled up in the driveway and a woman got out who dressed like me. The woman walked in the house and a man got out of the car on the street and went into the house. Then, a man just suddenly appeared out of nowhere, beside the car parked on the street.
The guy in the car rolled down the window as if to talk to this guy. The guy tossed something in the car and put a cardboard or cover over the open window. In less than two minutes the guy opened the door, laid the occupant on the street, and laced his feet and hands together. He then opened the trunk and threw him in like a sack of potatoes.
Soon, the woman who had walked into the house came out dragging a man and they threw him into the trunk, slammed the lid, and went into the house. In less than ten minutes from their arrival, they were loaded and left for The Sanctuary. I wondered who the hell are these people. Clearly, they aren’t a couple of social workers; they were as efficient as storm troopers.
After they left, I went to the car with the two guys in the trunk and finally found the keys in the front seat and opened the trunk. The two guys were conscious and asking for help. I got the lighter fluid and went and poured some of it on them, then stepped back about ten feet and lit a cigarette.
I was deciding what to do next and they were crying and pleading, telling me they would do anything if I didn’t do it. There was nothing they could tell me that I was interested in hearing. They both crapped and pissed on themselves. God, this is a messy business. I put the cigarette out and looked in their back seat where I found a telephone book. I then started their car, turned it around, and headed it down hill. I stuck the telephone book on the accelerator and jumped out.
I went to my car and turned around to admire my work. Then got in and drove away while the car went around a curve out of sight down the hill and thinking, shit no fireball. I must be losing my touch. Now for Tony. I headed back for Seattle and had to wait about 36 hours before Tony would be back.
I called The Sanctuary and talked to a guy named Curt, who told me every one was Okay, they were waiting for me, and it was one hundred percent safe there. I said I will be there in two days or three at the latest. I didn’t tell him what I was going to do in the meantime. I had plenty of time to make two extra copies of the information on Tony. I mailed one copy to Jeff in Spokane, one to The Sanctuary, and one to myself at my grandparents place.
I went to Tony’s apartment and pulled the panel off the bottom of the refrigerator and put a gallon plastic bag of lighter fluid under it. I replaced the grate, rolled up a piece of typing paper, stuck it through the grate and under the bag of lighter fluid. It wouldn’t be noticeable, but I knew where it was and it could easily be lit with a cigarette. I might not need it, but it would be a potential backup plan. Then I left.
When it was time I picked up the 357, stuck it in my shoulder bag and took the commando knife under my coat and went to see Tony. The coat was over my shoulders and I had the knife, blade up, in my hand under the coat. He was just as vile as always. He liked to make long, egotistical lectures while he strutted around, about how powerful he was. He told me how he would torture my aunt and sell my daughter to Iranian terrorists. He expected to keep me around until he tired of me and then he had a house of prostitution in Brazil where he would place me for as long I was useful.
But, I was puzzled that he seemed to be under the impression that my kid was still in jeopardy. What kind of crappy organization was this, don’t they communicate? He smiled and was so extraordinarily confident, he could not imagine me or any woman to be anything other than totally submissive.
He was covering his hand and the brass knuckles; he planned on beating me to death or at least severely, but he wanted to take his time and savor my misery. I didn’t want to use the 357 unless I had no other choice, too much noise.
He never suspected a thing when I walked up to him and stuck the knife in his lower belly and pulled up hard with both hands and all my strength. I wasn’t expecting it to take this much effort.
“Surprise, you son of a bitch, is there any other smart-ass shit going to come out your mouth?”
He didn’t plead, he just screamed foul language in Spanish. I went over and stepped on his hand and put the knife to his throat and asked him if he wanted to live a little longer. Then leaned over him, looked down into his face and smiled. He was frothing at the mouth and had a definite look of terror, so I decided not to put him out of his misery.
I took his cell phone and threw it in the toilet. I told him your floor is a mess, you pig with all that shit and guts all over. Then I left, I realized it was important to get the hell out of there fast. The apartment was on sixth floor and I saw Nigel on the street just outside, but he acted like he didn’t recognize me. It was a good thing because the mood I was in I would have put a bullet right between his eyes if he gave me any shit, but I had no ill feelings towards him.
Lettie said, “I made several mistakes. The first is, I didn’t kill him, I didn’t cut the telephone line. He must have called 911, and then the organization with information on me and an order to kill, with a reward. By reading the morning paper, I had found the hospital he was in and dressed like a male orderly and went to his room. I had a syringe filled with cocaine, I was going to send him to hell with an overdose of cocaine, but he saw me and hit the button for a nurse. All I had time for was to give him the finger and get out fast. It would have been poetic justice if I could have completed the transaction because I was planning on using his cocaine. I really wanted credit for his last breath. Fate had it that I didn’t kill him, the hospital did, he was starting to get well and then ended up with a staph infection that took him out.”
Lettie went on and told how she had stirred up a hornet’s nest and his people where everywhere. She went back to the apartment and they were there, she went for her car and they were there, she tried the bus depot no dice. What she finally did was she walk to a truck stop and rode with truckers all the way down Highway 5 and then walked and hitchhiked to The Sanctuary.
So, that was how Lettie got to The Sanctuary with the clothes on her back and her fat finicky cat. She said, if the cat can stay I can stay. Of course, everyone there loved cats.
When she was there a few days she sat down with the staff and found out that Curt and Millie had picked up her aunt Elizabeth and Shelley. Curt had a taser and a can of aerosol ether. He simply went to the car with Tony’s man, poked a hole in the can of ether with a pen, stuck it in his face and threw it in the car. Then covered the window with a cardboard and the guy was quickly unconscious. He had plastic ties he used for the feet and the hands, then dumped him in the trunk. Millie had a taser and a pistol. She didn’t need the pistol, she was liberal with the taser and then used the plastic ties. The guy never had a chance. He thought you were in the house, and no doubt Tony had told him you weren’t dangerous, so he was off guard. She hit him with the taser as soon as he stepped into the house. Curt said it was seven minutes from in and out of the driveway. He said they should review their procedure and get it down to five minutes. He was dramatic, but also very good at what he did.
What in the world went on with the two guys? We read in the Spokane paper that a Mercedes without a driver hit a fire plug and broke it off and there were two men with their hands and feet bound in the trunk. Jeff, the reporting police officer said they were being investigated for being part of a crime organization. Jeff also mentioned that they were lucky that the car broke off the fire plug or it might have caught on fire. Police suspected they were involved in transporting illegal aliens.
Curt asked Lettie if she had anything to do with the unfortunate accident of the Mercedes. She said maybe and then avoided further details. Curt never probed for additional information; I think he knew as much as he wanted to know. Tony’s early demise was never discussed, except briefly when Jeff called Lettie.
At The Sanctuary
At the time I completed the story about Lettie, she had been at The Sanctuary about one year. She talked vaguely about some career moves when she left ,but obviously was in no hurry to go. She described her present situation as the best time in her life. She had her cat and numerous friends. She had work and classes she thoroughly enjoyed, and realized it just doesn’t get better than that.
She talked about combining her graphic arts background with the legal and psychological training she received at The Sanctuary in some form of law enforcement career; however, it just wasn’t a fully formed idea yet.
Lettie was an expert at martial arts and competed in several events successfully. She also taught martial arts ten hours a week at a school in the nearby town.
Life at The Sanctuary doesn’t sound all that exciting in writing about it; however, there is an atmosphere here that most seek all their life and never find.