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Originally published September 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified September 8, 2005 at 10:01 PM

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Bellingham suspect could face the death penalty

The man who has confessed to being a vigilante who gunned down two Level 3 sex offenders in Bellingham has written that he was molested...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The man who claims he killed two convicted sex offenders in Bellingham last month was charged today with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

The charges filed against Michael A. Mullen carry a possible penalty of either death or life in prison without parole. Mac Setter, Whatcom County chief criminal deputy prosector, said the prosecutor's office would decide by Mullen's Sept. 16 arraignment date whether to seek the death penalty.

Mullen, 35, is being held on $1 million bail in the Whatcom County Jail after turning himself in Monday.

Mullen has written that he was molested as a child, according to police.

The claim is contained in letters believed to be written by Mullen, said Bellingham police Lt. Craige Ambrose. The lieutenant did not provide additional details.

He did say, however, that Mullen also is believed to have written a number of Internet postings, including a confession to the slayings under the pseudonym "Agent Life," the same moniker used in letters sent to police and various media outlets since the Aug. 27 shooting deaths of Victor Vazquez, 68, and Hank Eisses, 49.

Michael Mullen charging documents


Caution: the affidavit contains detailed information about a violent crime.

Press release announcing the charges (PDF)

Informational documents (PDF)

Affidavit of probable cause (PDF)

Mullen has told police he was motivated by the case of Joseph Edward Duncan III, a sex offender charged with killing a family in Idaho and kidnapping two children as sex slaves, Ambrose said. His most recent letters, Ambrose said, now also refer to his own alleged abuse.

The Internet confession apparently was erased shortly after it was posted. However, a copy was posted on a Web log called The Dark Side (www.planethuff.com/darkside).

"I am Agent Life! And I alone and [sic] respnsible [sic] for the deaths of the two level three pedophiles in Bellingham Washington, and they are not the last to be executed unless things change for the better," it said. (Level 3 sex offenders are those determined to be at highest risk of reoffending.)

That confession, Ambrose confirmed, was posted on an AmericaOnline (AOL) journal apparently belonging to Mullen. Detectives are also reviewing other postings, including one signed by Mullen in which he claims his hobbies are "hunting pedophiles" and in which he demands "harsh action" against child molesters. Those writings were signed "Michael A. Mullen" and were posted in an AOL journal Aug. 23, four days before the killings.

In the personal section of the journal — apparently posted just before the slayings — the author says he's "never been good talking about myself," but adds: "Well lets [sic] wait and hear what the media/public has to say."

"We're aware of those writings," Ambrose said yesterday. "Everything we've seen leads us to believe it is him. It sounds like him."

Mullen's purported Aug. 23 comments were interspersed throughout an editorial written by John Walsh, creator of television's "America's Most Wanted." Walsh was asking for support for a federal measure that would help states comply with sex-offender registry and notification laws.

Walsh, whose son was abducted and killed in 1981, calls for sex offenders to be held accountable, but the writer says that's not enough and that child molesters should be locked away for life or sent to death row.

"In my opinion, just simply keeping them locked up is not good enough or fair for the victims," the posting says. "Unless you spent time in one of our plush penal institutions in the first place then you have no clue how easy most convicted criminals have it."

Vazquez was convicted in 1991 of molesting several people. Eisses was convicted in 1997 of raping a 13-year-old boy at his home. Both were killed with a single gunshot to the head.

Court records show Mullen has been a petty criminal most of his life and has served prison time in Washington and California.

Elsewhere in the writings, the author derides the idea of so-called "strike bills," where sex offenders are given one or two chances before a mandatory life sentence is imposed. "In my bill, pedophiles do not get a second or third try. One strike, you're out!"

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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