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Buford O'Neal FURROW Jr.






Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 10, 1999
Date of arrest: Same day (surrenders)
Date of birth: November 25, 1961
Victims profile: US Postal Service carrier Joseph Santos Ileto (Filipino American)
Method of murder: Shooting (Glock 9mm handgun)
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on January 24, 2001

photo gallery


Buford O'Neal Furrow, Jr. (born November 25, 1961) perpetrated the August 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting on August 10, 1999, when he attacked a day care center at the North Valley Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles.

The shooting injured three children, a counselor, and a receptionist. He also shot dead US Postal Service carrier Joseph Ileto who was Filipino American. Furrow, now serving life in prison, was a member of the white-supremacist group Aryan Nations in 1995.

On January 24, 2001 Furrow pleaded guilty to all of the counts against him. In exchange for pleading guilty, Furrow avoided a possible death sentence, but was instead sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets for any of his crimes.

Furrow was also an engineer who worked for several years on the B-2 stealth bomber project for Northrop Grumman.

Furrow's former girlfriend was Debbie Mathews, widow of Robert Jay Mathews.


The August 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting occurred on August 10, 1999, at around 10:50 a.m. local time, when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon, unloading 70 shots into the complex.

The gunfire wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Shortly thereafter, Furrow murdered a mail carrier, fled the state, and finally surrendered to authorities.


On August 7, Furrow bought a used red Chevrolet van in Tacoma, Washington, and loaded it with five assault rifles, two pistols, 6,000 rounds of ammunition and a flak jacket. Furrow considered attacking three Jewish institutions: the Skirball Cultural Center, the University of Judaism and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, but security measures presented too much of a problem.

Furrow proceeded to drive from Washington to the San Fernando Valley with the stated purpose of "killing Jews". Three days later, Furrow pulled off the freeway into the Granada Hills area of Los Angeles and made his way to the North Valley Jewish Community Center just before 11 a.m.

There were about 250 children playing outside when Furrow walked into the lobby carrying an Uzi-type submachine-gun. He opened fire, spraying bullets from right to left, leaving smoke and more than 70 shells on the ground. When he was done, a receptionist, a camp counselor and three little boys were wounded."

Furrow quickly fled the scene in his van. Twenty minutes later, he carjacked a woman's Toyota at gunpoint, left the van behind, and then dumped the Toyota at a Chatsworth motel.

The shootings ended with the death of USPS postal worker Joseph Santos Ileto in Chatsworth, a few miles away from the center. Ileto had just delivered mail to a home and was returning to his postal truck when Furrow asked Ileto to mail a letter for him. As Ileto agreed, Furrow pulled out a Glock 9mm handgun and shot Ileto nine times.

Later, Furrow would confess that he murdered Ileto because he thought Ileto was Latino or Asian (Ileto was Filipino-American), and because Ileto was a federal employee.

Police found Furrow's abandoned van, where they discovered a cache of ammunition, assault rifle magazines, bulletproof vests, a Ranger Handbook, and freeze-dried food. Two books by Richard Kelly Hoskins, a Lynchburg, Virginia, leader of the Christian Identity movement were also found; a copy of the book War Cycles, Peace Cycles, and Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of Phineas Priesthood, a book which according to the ADL justifies anti-Semitic and racist acts of violence.

Furrow fled 275-miles in an $800 taxi ride from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, ending the manhunt by walking into an FBI office to confess, saying "You're looking for me, I killed the kids in Los Angeles." Furrow also stated that he wanted his shooting to be "a wakeup call to America to kill Jews."


The injured included a 5-year-old boy who was hit in the abdomen and leg, losing 30 percent of his blood; two 6-year-old boys and a 16-year-old girl; and 68-year-old receptionist Isabelle Shalometh, who was grazed on the arm and back. Joseph Ileto died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and one to the back of the head. He was found dead in a driveway.


In 2004, on the fifth anniversary of the shootings, families of the victims and local officials called for stricter gun control and hate crime legislation. Ismael Ileto, Joseph's brother, said: "We miss him very much ... and we cannot understand why someone would take the life of my brother. He was just doing his job when he was killed."


Gunman expresses remorse for 1999 shooting spree at San Fernando Jewish center

By Kevin Modesti - Pasadena Star News


A decade after he murdered a Filipino immigrant and wounded five people at a Jewish community center in a San Fernando Valley shooting spree, the gunman has surprised victims and their families by renouncing his white-surpremacist views while expressing "deep remorse" for his crime.

"I feel a life based on hate is no life at all," Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr. wrote in a letter from the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

"(Victims) probably will never forgive me, but I am truely (sic) sorry and deeply regret the pain I caused," Furrow said in the letter, addressed to a reporter who had sought an interview with the killer.

These are the most extensive public comments by Furrow, now 47, about the Aug. 10, 1999, killing of letter carrier Joseph Ileto in Chatsworth and shootings of three children, a 16-year-old summer-camp counselor and an adult staff member at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.

Furrow had told investigators he targeted Ileto because the victim was a nonwhite federal employee, and attacked the Jewish facility as "a wakeup call to America to kill Jews."

Furrow avoided the death penalty by agreeing to plead guilty to murder and firearms charges and was given two consecutive life sentences and an additional 110 years running consecutively with the life sentences. He signed documents calling for him to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

At his sentencing in March 2001, he blamed mental illness for his actions, saying he had tried to have himself committed before the shootings. He read a statement to a courtroom packed with victims and families, saying in part: "I want to try, although it is impossible, to convey my deep sorrow."

But a relative of one shooting victim said this past week he remembered Furrow had "said he was sorry with a smile" that day in court, and another relative said Furrow seemed sedated. They said they had doubted the sincerity of the Olympia, Wash., native with a long history of involvement with the Aryan Nations and other hate groups.

In his letter, dated Aug. 19 and handwritten in ballpoint ink on two sheets of ruled paper, Furrow implied it wasn't until years later that he broke completely from his white supremacist beliefs.

"About 5 years ago I threw away my racist books, literature, etc. and took up a new leaf," Furrow wrote. "I now publicly renounce all bias toward anyone based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation, etc. and am a much happier person."

Furrow did not say what caused the change.

The letter appears to have been composed after prison officials - citing security concerns - turned down a request to interview Furrow as the newspaper prepared coverage of the 10th anniversary of the shootings.

Shooting victims, relatives and Jewish and Asian- American groups expressed surprise about the letter and Furrow's claim to have had what he called a "change of heart." One shooting victim described feeling "blindsided" by the development and declined to respond. Some doubted the convict meant what he wrote and speculated about his motives.

The brother of the slain Joseph Ileto responded after hearing parts of the letter read over the phone.

"It still hurts that our brother and son was taken from us, and a letter won't make up for that," Ismael Ileto said. "It's a positive thing that he's saying he's changed. It gives us some type of hope that people are able to rehabilitate themselves. And this is a hopeful sign if it is true that this type of hateful thinking can some day be turned around.

"I can't go any further than that. We hope people, when they see this letter published, will consider also how much it still hurts us, and that can never be corrected. If he is asking for forgiveness, all we're saying is, `Ask God.'

"You can't do something, and then write a remorseful letter now and everything's OK."

Alan Stepakoff - whose son Josh, then a 6-year-old summer camper at the Jewish community center, was shot in the left thigh and lower back - read a copy of Furrow's letter that was e-mailed to him by the Daily News.

"There are three points I'd like to make," Stepakoff said. "One is, this doesn't change what he did. The second point is we are glad he has renounced his hateful beliefs. The third point is I'm not fully convinced of his sincerity."

Amanda Susskind, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and bigotry, had the letter read to her over the phone. She said this "shouldn't be his moment," and the focus should remain on what he did and how such crimes can be prevented.

"The Anti-Defamation League would always rather see a prisoner renounce hatred rather than choose the path of recruitment and incitement of more extremist behavior within the prison system," Susskind said. "We have plenty of evidence of extremist cells and extremist groups within the prison system, so we're very aware of how this kind of rhetoric can fester and be fostered.

"We can't judge the veracity of what is in Buford Furrow's heart. And whatever he says cannot change the history or the lessons to be learned - the history behind that he tried to kill a lot of Jewish children and did in fact kill a Filipino postal worker out of pure hatred, and the lesson being that we need to pay attention when there are signs of hatred emerging in our children and young adults."

Susskind added: "At the Anti-Defamation League, we don't think it's our place to forgive or accept an apology. It is the victims' right first to accept an apology, and then the community's."

A relative of one victim said he was uncomfortable with the question of whether to forgive Furrow, fearing that either way, his answer could be misinterpreted.

Although a Terre Haute prison administrator interviewed by telephone said she couldn't confirm or dispute the authenticity of the 364-word letter, the envelope bore official markings indicating it came from Furrow.

It began by expressing disappointment that the interview request was denied, and ends by urging the reporter to publish his statements. It came with a copy of a Furrow letter to federal prison officials complaining he had been denied his First Amendment right to speak, and claiming he was being silenced because he had complained about prison conditions.

A relative of one shooting victim wondered if Furrow is presenting himself in less-threatening terms to improve his standing as a jail-house lawyer.

Furrow wrote: "My mind was filled with sickness and unfortunately I acted on it. But, I am now a `model' inmate who has shunned criminal activity and spend my day with exercise, art, and learning prison civil law. I can't change the past, but I can damn sure change the future, and my future will never include Neo-Nazi activity again. That is all I can do."

Prison administrators did not respond to questions about what Furrow's prison life is like.

Lewis Yablonsky, a Cal State Northridge professor emeritus of criminology and author of three books on criminal gangs, said it's not uncommon for prisoners to have authentic "conversions," since many have little to do except rethink their lives.

Yablonsky said some change their beliefs and later change back.

After hearing the letter read to him over the phone, Yablonsky said Furrow's allusions to complaints about prison conditions suggest he is "still kind of a rebel."

As for whether Furrow's reversal is sincere, Yablonsky said: "I would say he has changed. I don't think he's falsifying it. ... I still wouldn't want to let him out."


Furrow pleads guilty to shootings, will avoid death penalty, get life without parole

January 24, 2001

Buford O. Furrow Jr., the accused shooter in a hate crime that left a postal carrier dead and five others wounded at a Jewish community center in 1999, entered a guilty plea Wednesday that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.

Judge Nora Manilla accepted a plea bargain, under which Furrow will be sentenced in March to life in prison without opportunity for parole.

The burley Furrow answered, "Yes, your honor" 16 times as Manilla asked if he were pleading guilty to each charge.

He made no other comment and showed no emotion.

The mother of U.S. Postal carrier Joseph Santos Ileto, the man Furrow killed, as well as several other members of Ileto's family cried as the charges were read and the pleas were entered.

Furrow, a 38-year-old avowed white supremacist, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on charges of murder and firearms violations stemming from the killing of Ileto.

According to the indictment, Furrow expressed no regrets over the August 1999 killing of Ileto and the wounding of five people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center.

In the 61-page indictment, Furrow told authorities he would not have killed Ileto if the Filipino-American mail carrier had been white. Furrow also said he targeted the Jewish Community Center because of his hatred of Jews.

A federal grand jury returned a 16-count criminal indictment against Furrow that included charges he committed an act of terrorism, that he was motivated by religious and racial hatred and that he would do it again, according to the court documents.

In addition to murder charges stemming from the Ileto killing, he faced a dozen other charges including hate crimes violations stemming from the shooting rampage at the North Valley Jewish Community Center's day-care facility west of downtown Los Angeles.

The 16 federal counts included:

Murder of a federal employee of the United States which carries a potential death sentence.

Use of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death, which also carries a potential death sentence.

Possessing a firearm in violation of his parole as a convicted felon -- he served five months for threatening two mental hospital nurses with a knife.

The shooting rampage at the community center occurred August 10, 1999, as dozens of children were playing. Five people were wounded, including three young children. All five survived and have since physically recovered.

Furrow then allegedly carjacked a sedan belonging to a waitress and killed Ileto, a Filipino-born postman. Federal authorities called his murder a hate crime, inspired by the victim's race or nationality.

The gunman eluded a massive manhunt in Los Angeles, abandoned the stolen car and took a taxi to Las Vegas -- an $800 trip -- where he turned himself in to FBI authorities the next day. Authorities say Furrow admitted shooting Ileto and wounding five people at the Jewish community center as a "wake up call" to anti-Semites and hate groups.

It is unclear whether newly-elected Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley will try to seek the death penalty on other related charges against Furrow if the case is brought to state court.


The hate-filled descent of Buford Furrow

White supremacist's shooting rampage puts state's justice and mental health systems under scrutiny

By Heath Foster - Seattle Post Intelligencer

Friday, September 17, 1999

When Buford Furrow Jr. showed up drunk and suicidal at a Kirkland psychiatric hospital one afternoon last October, he couldn't have made his proclivity for violence more obvious.

The stocky, blue-eyed engineer admitted to Fairfax Hospital staff that he had a semiautomatic pistol in his car and that the night before he had fought off a strong urge to open fire at the crowded Alderwood Mall.

Furrow's left arm and index finger bore deep wounds inflicted in recent moments of self-hatred. His wallet contained an official membership card of Aryan Nations, a militant Neo-Nazi group that wants to empty the world of Jews and dark-skinned people. And he was talking repeatedly about his fantasy of murdering his ex-wife, a fellow neo-Nazi soldier.

Then, when workers refused to give him his truck keys, he pulled a switchblade and threatened a social worker and the hospital director.

"Give me my f---ing keys (or) . . . I will cut you up," he said. Furrow didn't drop the knife until the third time a King County sheriff's deputy ordered him to do so at gunpoint and then booked him into the King County Jail.

Nine months later, Furrow strolled into the North Valley Jewish Community Center near Los Angeles and opened fire, wounding a 68-year-old receptionist, a 16-year-old counselor and three young boys. Then he killed a friendly Filipino American postman who crossed his path, later saying he did so because the postman's dark skin and employment with the U.S. government made him a "target of opportunity."

On each of the 285 days in between his Fairfax Hospital arrest and his hateful rampage, Furrow was in custody or under the supervision of Washington agencies.

His mental health was evaluated repeatedly -- by psychiatric experts at the King County Jail, Harborview Medical Center and Western State Hospital, as well as by a seasoned King County Superior Court judge, prosecutor and three community corrections officers.

In hindsight, it is easy to conclude that these experts let a plainly dangerous man slip through their fingers. In a brief interview at his Olympia home, Furrow's 66-year-old father said he believed the state failed to give his son help that might have prevented the tragedy.

Furrow's trajectory through Washington's mental health and criminal justice systems is likely to be a central issue in his upcoming trial, given that his team of federal public defenders is widely expected to rely on a mental-health defense.

Furrow spent six weeks in intensive treatment, first at Harborview Medical Center and later at Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, before he began serving time in the King County Jail for his assault at Fairfax.

A review of previously undisclosed records and interviews with many of those involved in his case shows that authorities did consider Furrow's mental illness as they made decisions about the first-time offender's treatment, jail sentence and conditions of his supervised release.

Perhaps naively, those who came into contact with Furrow after he was stabilized, including his attorney, prosecutor, sentencing judge and community corrections officers, decided that he was not likely to reoffend as long as he stayed on his psychiatric medications. For that reason, they did not delve deeply into his white-supremacist history. And they did not take steps that could have kept Furrow in custody longer and under closer scrutiny upon his release. For example:

  • The King County Prosecutor's Office did not charge him with a second count of assault in the Fairfax incident, which would have added three months to his sentence, or add a deadly-weapon enhancement, which would have tacked on another year.


  • The community corrections officers who evaluated Furrow before sentencing never requested his hospital psychiatric records as they could have, thus missing information that might have led them to recommend that Furrow stay in mental health treatment after his release.


  • King County Superior Court Judge Harriett Cody did not require continuing mental health treatment despite a new law that allowed her to do so.


  • And the community corrections officer who supervised Furrow after his release did not visit Furrow in his home or search his car, as he could have, to see whether Furrow was drinking or amassing weapons and ammunition.

    Critics charge that these seasoned professionals had a responsibility to take a harder look at Furrow's mental health and animosity toward minorities, especially given the facts they had available to them.

    For example, the presentence investigation that community corrections officers prepared for Cody noted that one of Furrow's Fairfax victims confided the assault was so terrifying that seven months later, she still feared he might seek revenge against them. She emphasized Furrow's white-supremacist beliefs, and warned, "He definitely needs a supervised program."

    "It was irresponsible not to get his (psychiatric) records," said Mark Leemon, a Seattle attorney who has successfully sued the Department of Corrections for failing to adequately supervise ex-prisoners before. "Here is a guy who is crazy enough that he is thinking of killing his wife and her friends, is thinking of shooting people in a mall, and has a mental illness that leads him to be involuntarily committed for treatment. I can't imagine that (his psychiatrists and psychologists) would have been thinking that his medications were a panacea, and that as long as he stayed on them, he would be just great."

    But other experts question whether mental illness alone drove Furrow's well-planned attack on the day-care center. Sources close to the FBI investigation say agents believe it was pure racism that motivated him.

    Other events in Furrow's personal life, such as a failed attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife over the Fourth of July weekend, his intermittent unemployment and the stress of living at home with a mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, may have played an even greater role in his decision that he had little left to lose.

    Even if authorities had done everything possible to keep Furrow under their thumb, there's no certainty they would have prevented the former Aryan Nations first lieutenant from speeding south to Los Angeles to find a place to massacre Jews.

    "When something like this happens, there's always the suggestion that somehow government could have prevented it," said David Boerner, professor of criminal law and ethics at Seattle University and a former King County prosecutor who has reviewed Furrow's case. "But I think that misleads the public into believing that we can guarantee a safe world. There's no such thing. There are evil people in the world."


    Under state law, Furrow's psychiatric records are confidential, as is his official diagnosis. But according to Department of Corrections records, he battled serious depression and in recent years had suffered frequent and increasingly severe anxiety attacks.

    Police got a clear view of his disturbed mental state in a written confession after his arrest for the Fairfax assault.

    "Sometimes I feel like I could lose it and kill people," he wrote. "I also feel like I could kill myself."

    Jail psychologists quickly recognized Furrow as someone who needed treatment. At their prodding, within days of his arrest, a specially trained mental health evaluator for King County determined he posed a danger to himself or others, and Furrow was civilly committed for psychiatric treatment at Harborview. He tried to commit suicide there, corrections records show. Later, he voluntarily agreed to extend his treatment at Western State, court records show.

    What kind of continuing treatment hospital psychologists and psychiatrists felt Furrow needed is not part of the public record. Nor is it clear how much he shared with them about his extensive past involvement with Aryan Nations.

    Groups that monitor the white-supremacy movement believe Furrow became deeply involved in the early 1990s, when he began spending time at the 20-acre compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, that is a base for Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian.

    The church, founded by Richard Butler, holds that people of white Northern European descent are the true Israelites tricked out of their birthright by Jews and forced to live with other races. Disciples believe that Jews are the son of Satan, and blacks, but not whites, are descendants of animals.

    Eventually, Furrow rose to the rank of first lieutenant in the Aryan Nations security force, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It was also on the compound that he met Debbie Mathews, widow of one of the movement's modern martyrs.

    Her husband, Robert Mathews, was the founder of the Order, a racist, anti-Semitic group tied to the June 1984 assassination of Alan Berg, an outspoken Jewish host of a Denver radio talk show. Wanted for a number of other crimes, Mathews was killed later that year during an FBI siege of his house on Whidbey Island.

    Debra Mathews lived in the bucolic town of Metaline Falls in northeastern Washington, and in 1994 Furrow got a job in nearby Colville at LaDuke and Forge Equipment, a farm machinery company.

    Reached at her home last week, Mathews said she didn't want to discuss her relationship with Furrow. But according to Butler, he married Mathews and Furrow in a March 1995 ceremony at the compound.

    The two took a romantic honeymoon to Las Vegas, but it didn't take long for the relationship to sour, according to Mathews' neighbor and friend of 20 years, Meda Van Dyke.

    On a drive into town about a year after their union, Van Dyke said Mathews complained that Furrow was trying to gain complete control of her life and her finances.

    "He wanted to control what she did, and what she spent for, and she just couldn't handle that," Van Dyke, an 82-year-old rancher, remembered.

    In December 1995, Furrow was laid off, and during the next few years he lived only sporadically with Mathews in Metaline Falls, Van Dyke said.

    In March 1998, Furrow was hired as a design engineer at Northwest Gear, an Everett aircraft-parts maker. That spring, Mathews went over to the coast for a weeklong visit with Furrow, Van Dyke said. Mathews reported having a "lovely time," but that Furrow failed to persuade her then to sell her land and move across the mountains, Van Dyke said.

    Depression and suicidal impulses began to plague Furrow more intensely that year until his arrest at Fairfax Hospital last October, court records show.

    Because his mental health records are not public, the nature of the treatment he subsequently received at Harborview and Western State is not clear. Ira Klein, director of civil adult services at Western State, said the hospital's goal is to stabilize patients with therapy and medication, and then return them to the community with continuing mental health services.

    Furrow returned to jail in early December, when he was arraigned on assault charges. And by the time of his sentencing May 21, Furrow appeared to be a changed man.

    Powell, the community corrections officer who evaluated Furrow's case before his sentencing, wrote in abbreviated notes that Furrow then described the assault as "an act of desperation. . . . He was trying to get help. . . . He kept going to hospitals for treatment, but his medication wasn't doing the job. Current medications are working nicely."

    Whether psychiatrists agreed with that assessment, Powell never knew, because he didn't review Furrow's mental health records, according to corrections officials.

    Powell did note in his report to Judge Cody that Furrow faced some daunting challenges. The assetless Furrow felt a full-time job would "destabilize his condition," yet was not looking forward to living with his father, Buford Sr., who he said suffered from severe depression and his mother Monnie, who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

    "Furrow confided that he plans to stay at his parents' residence only as long as it took to find his own place," Powell wrote. "He felt that his mother's illness would have counterproductive influence on his peace of mind."

    Nonetheless, Powell argued that Furrow had responded well to treatment and was "deserving of some measure of the court's leniency."

    At the sentencing, Furrow's public defender, Leona Thomas, also assured Cody that he had been stabilized.

    "I think it's one of those situations where the medications made a very dramatic difference very quickly," Thomas said, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

    And Furrow offered the court his own sane-sounding mea culpa: "I would like to say I am sorry for what happened. I really feel a lot of remorse for the two women that I assaulted and I have a lot more respect now for the people in the mental-health profession, you know, what they have to go through in dealing with people like myself who are in real bad shape. And I also would like to thank you . . . for getting me up to Harborview and getting me on medications and kind of helping me out. I do feel quite a bit better than I was when I came into the jail system."

    State law allowed Cody to sentence Furrow, who had no criminal history, to as many as nine months in jail. If King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng had added an additional assault charge, or a deadly weapon enhancement, Furrow could have faced a sentence of more than two years.

    But Dan Donohoe, spokesman for Maleng, defended the decision. He said under the statewide prosecutorial standards his office adheres to, the single assault charge was a good fit for the crime Furrow had committed.

    Cody sentenced Furrow to eight months for the assault. He served 165 days because of credit for good behavior. She did not require Furrow to continue with treatment, though she sternly admonished him to stay on his medications.

    "It's not within any of our power to make you take your medications," she observed.

    She also required him to stay away from his victims, from alcohol and from firearms.

    In a recent interview, Cody said that because Furrow's case could potentially come before her again, she could not comment on why she did not take advantage of a 1998 law that allowed judges to require mental health treatment as a condition of release.

    Cody stressed that she takes each sentencing decision seriously, but must act within the limitations of Washington laws, which dictate specific sentence ranges for specific crimes.

    "There are shortcomings in what I am able to do under the law," she said. "It's not illegal to be a white supremacist."

    Once Furrow was released, he moved in with his parents in Olympia, and his case was transferred to Pat Gosney, an experienced community corrections officer dealing with about 75 other cases at the time.

    Furrow checked in with Gosney June 16, who noted at the time that Furrow was "taking medications that really help him with his fight against depression."

    A few days later, Gosney received a detailed letter from Fairfax Hospital describing the assault on the social worker and hospital director and urging him to make sure Furrow continued with treatment and stayed in weekly contact with his corrections officer.

    In early July, Gosney upgraded Furrow's classification from minimum to medium, which meant he would have to meet with Gosney at least twice, instead of once, a month.

    Little is known of what Furrow did with his free time this summer. Van Dyke, Mathews' longtime friend, said that Furrow was seen in Metaline Falls over the Fourth of July Weekend.

    "He . . . tried to get Debbie to sign over her property and car to him," Van Dyke said. "He was always trying to reconcile with her, but she wouldn't do it."

    Furrow's failure to patch up his relationship with Mathews may have contributed to his downward spiral. But when he checked in with community corrections officer Gosney July 6, he was reportedly "in a good mood." Furrow showed Gosney the medications he was taking then, and Gosney discussed counseling options in the community Furrow could explore, according to his notes. He also took a urine sample to see whether Furrow was staying away from drugs and alcohol.

    The next day, lab results detected amphetamines or methamphetamine in Furrow's system. Furrow insisted he hadn't been taking the drugs and agreed to have the sample retested at his own expense. The new test had no evidence of anything but the prescribed psychiatric drugs Furrow was taking, and Gosney concluded that the psychiatric drugs might have caused a false positive in the earlier test.

    Gosney was impressed by the calm way that Furrow handled the incident and told him so at a July 20 meeting. "I informed (Furrow) that this situation was probably a little tough to deal with, however, it shows positive progress regarding his moods, attitude and anger," he wrote.

    Furrow reported to Gosney's office again on Aug. 3, and Gosney again spotted nothing unusual. Furrow "was in good mood . . . no problems to note," he wrote.

    Four days later, on Aug. 7, Furrow paid cash for a red GMC van at the Tacoma Kar Korner used-car lot, the same van found outside the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles after the shooting.

    The attorney Leemon said that given Furrow's history, if Gosney had been visiting Furrow at home, instead of at a government office, he might not have "had the wool pulled over his eyes."

    The Corrections Department standards, adopted in 1997, make such field visits optional. Standards adopted in 1994 would have required at least two monthly field visits, and Leemon said that Furrow's case is evidence that the department's monitoring requirements are so "ridiculously low" that they fail to protect the public.

    "You can't say there's nothing we could have done (to prevent the rampage) when you've done nothing," he said.

    But Joe Lehman, secretary of the Department of Corrections, defended both Gosney and the regulations. He said that Gosney has been going through "a lot of soul-searching" since Furrow's arrest.

    "But I honestly believe this is a committed, caring, concerned, dedicated officer . . . who monitored what he thought were the two primary elements of risk in the case . . . his mental status and his use of substances," Lehman said. "What . . . the department didn't know was that he . . . wanted to commit an act of domestic terrorism."

    Lehman said critics of the department are making the dangerous assumption that Furrow stopped taking his medications and that the undetected return of his mental illness caused the day-care center rampage.

    He points to the purposeful scouting that Furrow did to find the Jewish Community Center, and the self-satisfied smile on his face after his arrest, as evidence that Furrow's act wasn't that of an insane, delusional man.

    "We don't know that his act in Los Angeles has anything to do with his mental health," he said. "Racism is a disease of the heart, not of the mind."

  • L.A. shooting suspect surrenders in Las Vegas

    Shooting victims recovering

    August 11, 1999

    LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Buford Furrow, the suspect police had sought in the shooting at a Los Angeles-area Jewish community center, turned himself in to authorities in Las Vegas on Wednesday, sources told CNN.

    Senior FBI officials in Washington said Furrow was alone when he surrendered at the FBI field office.

    "It was just a walk-in," a senior official told CNN. "There were no negotiations."

    Authorities also said Furrow would be charged in the slaying of a postal worker who was shot near the community center.

    Five people were wounded at the community center. Afterward, information surfaced linking Furrow to hate groups in the U.S. Northwest.

    News reports said the Washington state native belonged to, or was once associated with, the groups Aryan Nation, the Order and Christian Identity.

    He is listed in a database maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center of people connected with radical groups, said Mark Potok, a researcher with the center based in Montgomery, Alabama.

    Potok said Furrow was a member of Aryan Nation in 1995, and said he has a photo of Furrow in a Nazi uniform, taken that year at the white supremacist group's compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho.

    Relationship with widow of hate group founder

    Meantime, newspapers in Washington state reported that Furrow once lived with Debbie Mathews, widow of Robert J. Mathews, founder of the Order, a neo-Nazi hate group. Furrow and Debbie Mathews reportedly met at an Aryan Nation gathering.

    The Seattle Times said that until about a year ago they lived with Mathews' teen-age son in Metaline Falls, located in northwestern Washington near the Idaho border.

    "He was very much a racist," said a former Metaline Falls neighbor, an unidentified woman quoted by the Seattle Times.

    In yet another development, a van believed driven by Furrow contained a book, "War Cycles, Peace Cycles," written by Richard Kelly Hoskins, who Potok called "one of the principal ideologues of Christian Identity."

    Christian Identity is a group with religious overtones that considers white people superior to Jews and nonwhites.

    "Hard-line Identity adherents believe that in order for Christ to return to Earth, the globe must be swept clean of satanic forces -- meaning Jews, homosexuals and a whole laundry list of other enemies," Potok said.

    In psychiatric hospital

    In November, according to the Seattle Times, Furrow tried to commit himself to a psychiatric hospital in a Seattle suburb, but was reluctant to submit to inpatient treatment and, at one point, pulled a knife on several staffers.

    Court records show Furrow was charged with felony assault on November 2, 1998, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to five months in the King County Jail.

    Sources told CNN he was on probation at the time of Tuesday's attack.

    Manhunt spreads

    Furrow, 37, is suspected of walking into the North Valley Jewish Community Center and firing more than 70 bullets from what was believed to be a 9 mm weapon before escaping.

    When the hunt for the suspect spread from California to Washington, the Los Angeles police chief said authorities were "looking wherever the leads will take us."

    "If it requires us to go nationally or internationally, we're certainly capable of doing that," Chief Bernard Parks told CNN.

    While authorities were investigating the possibility that Tuesday's late-morning attack was a hate crime, Parks said authorities knew of no "specific motive."

    "The suspect did not make any comments before firing at the victims," he said.

    Condition of wounded

    The wounded included three young boys attending day camp, a 16-year-old counselor and a 68-year-old receptionist.

    The most seriously injured was a 5-year-old boy, who was shot in the abdomen and leg. He was in critical condition after six hours of surgery, and his prognosis for recovery was considered fair.

    The other two boys, ages 6 and 8, and the teen-age counselor were hospitalized in stable condition. The receptionist, Isabelle Shalometh, went home Tuesday night.

    Washington state roots

    Furrow grew up in Lacey, Washington, near the state capital of Olympia.

    His family still lives there, and neighbors said Furrow had recently been living with his parents.

    On Tuesday night, FBI agents visited the home and searched the area.

    Agents also interviewed neighbors Janet and Tim Tyrolt. Mrs. Tyrolt told reporters Furrow was " a perfect gentleman" she first met two or three months ago.

    As recently as 1994, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, Furrow had lived in Rosamond, California, a town about 40 miles from the scene of the community center attack in Granada Hills.

    The suburban San Fernando Valley community is about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

    Police said that after the shootings the gunman fled in a red van and, minutes later, stole a green car near the Van Nuys airport.

    Investigators followed his trail, from the shell casings that littered the community center's lobby to the abandoned red- and-white van. In addition to the Hoskins literature, it was filled with ammunition, bulletproof vests, explosives and freeze-dried food.

    The hunt next led police to a green Toyota Corolla that was believed to have been stolen and then left in front of a hotel in Chatsworth, a few miles from the community center. Police said they found weapons in the car.

    Officers surrounded the hotel, but the search ended after four hours. "We were so close but still he managed to get away," Cmdr. David Kalish said.

    The abandoned van, which had a Washington state license plate, was purchased Saturday in Tacoma, Washington, according to the used-vehicle dealer who sold it. Kalish identified Furrow as the buyer.

    Site of shooting to reopen

    Officials at the North Valley Jewish Community Center told CNN the facility would reopen as soon as police investigators allow it.

    Meantime, a summer program for youngsters was to resume Wednesday at an Episcopal church next door.



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