The Bellevue Massacre: Could These Family-Slaying “Goths” Walk Free?

Alex Baranyi's and David Anderson's mug shots [Washington State Department of Corrections]

BELLEVUE, WA — The Seattle area has long been associated with rebellious rock-and-roll subcultures.

Through the years, that’s included hippies, punks, heavy metal headbangers, and flannel-flying grunge fans, along with members of the black-clad, gloom-consumed movement known as “goth” (short for “gothic”).

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Alex Baranyi Yearbook photo

Alex Baranyi Yearbook photo

On January 3, 1997, a pair of 17-year-old goths from Bellevue, Washington, named Alex Baranyi and David Anderson did what millions of other “death rock” devotees never do: They acted out their darkest fantasies and slaughtered an entire family. The blood-soaked tragedy has since come to be known as Bellevue Massacre.

What’s newly terrifying is that ongoing Supreme Court decisions may actually make it possible for these sick slayers to walk free again.

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David Anderson Yearbook photo

David Anderson Yearbook photo

The horror came to light on January 4, after two boys playing in a local park discovered a dead body. Police identified the victim as 20-year-old Kimberly Wilson. A cord was wrapped around her neck, and she appeared to have been strangled during a struggle.

Kimberley Wilson [KOMO TV]

Kimberly Wilson [KOMO TV]

Detective Jeff Gomes took the awful ride that night to Kimberly’s home, in order to break the news to her parents. Upon arrival, he noticed things were not right. With every light in the house turned off, Gomes entered through an open sliding door and silently searched the premises. He headed toward the bedrooms and stepped into a nightmare.

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Rose Wilson [KOMO TV]

Rose Wilson [KOMO TV]

Blood had splattered everywhere Gomes looked. Rose Wilson, Kim’s mother, was dead in the bed. She’d been stabbed multiple times in the throat. A blunt object had been used to cave in her skull. Just in front of the bed, William Wilson, Rose’s husband, was sprawled out dead on the floor. He too had been slammed in the head. William also suffered repeated stabbings to his face and neck.

Down the hall, Gomes discovered the body of Julia Wilson, Kim’s 17-year-old sister. Unlike her parents, who looked to have been attacked while sleeping, Julia apparently jumped up and fought her assailants. Defensive wounds covered Julia’s hands and one of her arms was broken. She died from being stabbed numerous times in the throat.

A set of clear, bloody footprints stood out at the crime scene. One of them displayed a “waffle-stomper” pattern, indicating footwear of the sort popular with goth kids. In hindsight, some observers have wondered if the footprints weren’t sort of an intentional “signature” left by the killers.

William Wilson [KOMO TV]

William Wilson [KOMO TV]

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The Seattle suburb of Bellevue is upscale and typically quiet. Still, not everyone there always acted laid-back and eager to get along. Kim Wilson could be counted among those seeking something beyond what suburban life had to offer — occasionally to a dramatic degree.

Julia Wilson [KOMO TV]

Julia Wilson [KOMO TV]

In 1996, a year before the killings, police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Wilson residence, stemming from an argument between Kim and her parents over her decision to ditch college. In addition, even though she didn’t routinely don vampire garb, Kim did have ties to the nearby Seattle goth scene, and was infatuated with David Anderson.

The 20-year-old had been a member of the “Saturday Night Denny’s Club,” an impromptu collection of death-rock kids who gathered at the diner once a week to hang out and talk about goth topics such as role-playing games, kinky sex, and gruesome fright fare.

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In the wake of the Wilson murders, investigators talked to members of the Denny’s Club. Several of them pointed out that a couple of hangers-on — Alex Baranyi and David Anderson — spoke incessantly about wanting to actually kill people.

Baranyi and Anderson initially claimed they’d been together playing video games that night. A detective noticed Baranyi’s work boot, however. When asked, Baranyi said it was the only pair of boots he owned. The soles of those boots matched the gory footprints at the murder scene.

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Alex Baranyi in court [King County Clerk's Office]

Alex Baranyi in court [King County Clerk’s Office]

Upon being arrested, Baranyi waived his Miranda rights and confessed that he and an unnamed accomplice killed the Wilsons. The teen explained that he’d been feeling stuck “in a rut” and that he’d been planning for the previous year to break out of it by committing homicide to “experience something truly phenomenal.”  Officers found out quickly that Anderson was the other killer.

Cops also learned of Baranyi’s obsession with blade weapons and the pair’s elaborate fantasy lives in which they envisioned themselves as demigods who could become fully divine only by taking human lives. In that imaginary role, Baranyi had renamed himself “Slicer Thunderclap.”

David Anderson in court [King County Clerk's Office]

David Anderson in court [King County Clerk’s Office]

In addition, Anderson reportedly convinced Baranyi that since they were 17, no matter what crime they committed, they could only be convicted as “juveniles” and, therefore, automatically get out of jail at 21. That notion is at least as ludicrous as anything involving “Slicer Thunderclap.”

The Wilson family, horribly, fell prey to those teenage delusions.

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Speaking openly, Baranyi said he and Anderson lured their friend Kim to the park and strangled her. After reasoning that Kim might have told her parents where she was headed, Baranyi and Anderson went to the Wilsons’ home with a baseball bat and a military combat knife.

They struck Rose first, then attacked William when he came to his wife’s defense. Julia woke up and struggled for her life, but the teens overpowered her. On the way out, Baranyi and Anderson helped themselves to a telephone, CD player, and VCR. Police later found the objects in their possession.

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In short order, both Baranyi and Anderson faced charges of first-degree murder and they stood trial, pointedly, as adults. Their youth did, however, save them from facing the death penalty.

Each teen was tried separately; each was found guilty — Baranyi of first-degree murder, Anderson of aggravated murder. They both received four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. At issue now, though, is a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled young killers could not receive mandatory life sentences.

At the time of the ruling, Pierce County prosecuting Mark Lindquist said Washington state legislators would most likely rewrite laws to fit in with the new declaration. He also added, “They could fix it for future cases and make it retroactive.”

As a result, over the past five years, Baranyi and Anderson’s sentencing has been talked about as perhaps being changed. So far, though, they remain behind bars. But will it be for all four of those consecutive life sentences?

Watch Investigation Discovery’s “A Parent’s Nightmare” episode of The Real Story With Maria Elena Salinas on ID GO!

Read more:
New York Times
Seattle Times
Deadly Secrets

Main photo: Alex Baranyi’s and David Anderson’s mug shots [Washington State Department of Corrections]