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David Lewis RICE





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Anti-Semitic hate crime
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: December 24, 1985
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: 1958
Victims profile: Charles Goldmark, 41 (civil rights attorney), his wife, Annie Goldmark, 43, and his two sons, Colin, 10, and Derek, 12
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on July 20, 1986. Resentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole on May 26, 1998

David Lewis Rice (born 1958) is a follower of the Christian Identity movement who, on Christmas Eve in 1985, forced his way into the Seattle home of civil rights attorney Charles Goldmark with a toy pistol and stabbed Goldmark, his wife, and two children to death.

Rice erroneously believed the family was Jewish and Communist, and saw the crime as part of a broader religious war between American Christianity and Soviet atheism.

Goldmark and his family had been active in progressive politics in Washington for years, and his parents had won a highly publicized libel suit in 1964 as part of an effort to refute accusations of past membership in the Communist Party. When confessing to the crimes, Rice called Goldmark the "top Jew" and "top Communist" in the state.

Rice was convicted in 1986 of aggravated murder for the four deaths and was sentenced to death, but the conviction was later overturned on the grounds of an incompetent defense. A sticking point of Rice's case throughout the trial process was the psychotic symptoms that he sometimes displayed, and his attorney's lack of emphasis on them.

In 1998, he finally pled guilty to the crimes in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He remains alive in prison serving out a life sentence.

The Goldmark Murders remain one of the most notorious anti-Semitic hate crimes in recent memory in the United States, even though the victims were not actually Jewish. It also remains a cause celebre of capital punishment proponents, since Rice avoided death based only on the ineptness of his attorney's work at trial.


Right-wing extremist David Lewis Rice murders Charles Goldmark and his family in Seattle on December 24, 1985.

By David Wilma, September 19, 2001

On December 24, 1985, right-wing extremist David Lewis Rice brutally murders civil rights attorney Charles Goldmark, his wife, Annie Goldmark, and his two sons, Colin, 10, and Derek, 12, in their Madrona home. Rice believes (mistakenly) that Goldmark is Jewish and a Communist. Rice confesses and will be sentenced to death. His conviction will be overturned in 1997 and he will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Charles Goldmark was a Seattle civil rights attorney. David Rice, a former steel worker from Colorado, joined an extremist group in Washington called the Duck Club. Although the Duck Club was almost defunct, the Seattle chapter still functioned. The group convinced Rice that Charles Goldmark was Jewish and a Communist. (Charles Goldmark's parents, John and Sally Goldmark, had won a highly publicized libel case in 1964, which they brought after being accused of being Communists.)

Rice went to the Goldmark home and handcuffed Charles, his wife Annie, 12-year-old Derek, and 10-year-old Colin. He attacked all four with a knife, killing Annie and Colin. Charles died at the hospital and Derek lingered for 37 days before succumbing.

Rice was quickly apprehended after using Goldmark's credit card and leaving written confessions in public places. He was convicted of aggravated murder at trial, but the conviction was overturned because his defense by attorney Bill Lanning was found to be ineffective. Lanning had allowed the police unlimited access to his client and did not introduce evidence of Rice's psychotic state. In May 1998, Rice agreed to plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. Rice was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.


Sanity of confessed slayer at issue in Seattle trial

By Wallace Turner - The New York Times

May 28, 1986

A drifter went on trial today for the murder of the Charles Goldmark family, a crime that sent shivers through Seattle's governing class.

Within minutes after opening arguments began in King County Superior Court, a prosecutor asserted that the initial target was a man with even closer ties to the city's power centers.

The prosecutor, William Downing, told the jury that David Lewis Rice, 27 years old, said in a confession that he had sought out Mr. Goldmark, a prominent lawyer who lived in Seattle, only because he was confused by the street grids in the suburb of Bellevue. That is the home of James R. Ellis, 64, a leading figure in public affairs here for 30 years; according to Mr. Downing, he was Mr. Rice's initial target.

Mr. Rice has confessed to the authorities and said in widely publicized jail cell interviews that he attacked the Goldmark family on Dec. 24 because he saw himself as an anti-Communist soldier and them as Communists. He has repudiated earlier accounts that said he attacked them because he thought they were Jews. Defendant's Sanity an Issue

Mr. Rice is charged with four counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing and bludgeoning of Mr. Goldmark, 41; his wife, Annie, 43, and their sons, Derek 12, and Colin, 10. Mr. Rice has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors have said that if he is convicted they will seek the death penalty; a decision on that would be reached in a separate hearing before the same jurors.

Anthony Savage, a defense lawyer, said to the jury, ''It's tragic what my client did.'' He blamed mental illness, exacerbated by the influence of right-wing associations, saying, ''The extreme right did not cause his illness, but his mental illness provided fertile ground for their philosophy.'' Neither Mr. Savage nor Mr. Downing named any specific right-wing groups.

''He went to the Goldmark house as a soldier of America,'' Mr. Savage said of Mr. Rice. ''He believed in the Communist conspiracy aided by the international bankers and the Federal Reserve Board.''

The prosecutor said it was Mr. Rice's belief that ''Goldmark was a prominent figure in the local Communist party,'' adding, ''His belief was as wrong as wrong could be, but it provided him with a basis to justify his actions.''

Mr. Goldmark, a graduate of Yale Law School, was a delegate committed to Gary Hart at the 1984 Democratic convention and an advancing member of the inner group of liberal Democrats here. His standing was such that the Washington State Senate adopted a resolution in his memory after his death. Another Target? Mr. Ellis, while never holding public office, has been a leading figure in Seattle public affairs for more than 30 years. He has said he was told by Seattle detectives on Dec. 28 that he might be in danger because they had found his name, address and information about bus routes to his home among Mr. Rice's belongings after arresting Mr. Rice in the Goldmark case.

Asked why Mr. Rice would select him as a target, Mr. Ellis has said that in right-wing Republican circles, he and his projects have been described as left-wing. He said, ''It's all strange, but in the Duck Club world, they just jump to conclusions.''

The Duck Club is a conservative political organization based in Cocoa Beach, Fla. In interviews he gave while awaiting trial, Mr. Rice has said that he attended sessions of the Seattle chapter of the group, where he heard of the Goldmark family.

In 1963 John Goldmark, father of Charles Goldmark, sued for libel after his career as a member of the Washington Legislature was cut short by charges that he was a Communist. He won a $40,000 judgment. Sally Goldmark, his wife and Charles's mother, was a Communist Party member for several years in the 1930's, it was disclosed at that time. Both the senior Goldmarks are dead. Conversations About Victim

A book about the libel case, written by William Dwyer, a Seattle lawyer awaiting nomination to the Federal District Court, was under discussion at conservative meetings attended by Mr. Rice, Mr. Downing told the jury.

''In the circles in which the defendant moved, there had been under discussion of John Goldmark's activities without any great attention being given to the accuracy of the false allegations,'' Mr. Downing said.



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