Saturday, January 05, 2008

Local Hero Charged In Moms Beating Death

January 5, 2008

Recipient of a Silver Medal of Honor from the Portland, Oregon Fire Department for the heroic rescue of two children from a burning building in 1992, retired Firefighter David F. Gaul was charged yesterday with the beating death of his own Mother.

In 1992, Fiefighter David Francis Gaul was awarded the Portland, Oregon Fire Bureau’s second highest medal for his help in rescuing two children from the basement of a burning building, escaping with them shortly before the building exploded.

In 2000 he was promoted to lieutenant.

In 2002 he went on an unnamed work related disability leave.

In 2007 he was automatically retired.

In 2008 he is charged with Clark County Washington’s first murder of the year for the beating of his 90 year-old Mother while so drunk he was barely able to stand, according to Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Timothy L. Bieber.

Gaul, in what may be described as a downward spiral since the dramatic rescue of the children, was recently released from Multnomah County Oregon jail on December 27, 2007, where he had been imprisoned the last six months.

According to those who knew him, Gaul had been struggling with an injury, alcohol abuse, a stress-related disability, suicidal thoughts and driving violations. His Mother, Junette Gaul, was seeking a restraining order against her son on Wednesday, January 3, but missed the filing deadline and was to return to the Court on Thursday. She never made it, being beaten to death Wednesday afternoon.

Junette Gaul was in fear of her son, sleeping away from her home at the homes of her daughters in Longview and Ridgefield, Washington, just north of Vancouver.

Lee Liston, Junette's son-in-law said Gaul had become increasingly erratic since his release from jail on Dec. 27, threatening to harm himself and family members. Family members had called 911 in response to Gaul's threats and Police talked to Gaul in the days before the killing, but did not arrest him.

Liston added that he was taken to the hospital. "They picked him up and took him to Legacy Salmon Creek and they just let him go.” A Legacy spokeswoman, citing medical privacy laws would not confirm the report.

Here in Washington State, Patients can be confined against their will only under one of three conditions: if they are a threat to themselves or to others, or in cases of grave disability, cannot find food, clothing or shelter by themselves. A county designated mental health professional can make that decision, and the patient can be held involuntarily for three business days.

In 2005 David Gaul was interviewed by the Oregonian, Portland’s newspaper for an investigation into the Portland public safety disability fund. Then he said he was “seeing a psychiatrist, going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and trying to stay sober." He said he had filed disability in 2003 for a hip injury and 2004 for post traumatic stress disorder. His doctors agreed, “Gaul's problem-drinking was a symptom of his trying to repress bad on-the-job situations.”

In the interview Gaul said that the fund was aware of his drinking problem, but did little to help him. "I spent 29 years fighting fires," Gaul said during the interview. "Now, I need help, and they turn their back on me." Fund members said Gaul “did not make his doctor appointments.”

Called to the home of Junette Gaul by David Gaul’s ex-girlfriend, who went to check on Junette and discovered the grisly scene, Clark County sheriff's deputies found David lying next to his Mothers body with an arm around her head. The county medical examiner's office said “the death was a homicide, and the cause of death to be blunt-force injures of the head and neck with strangulation.”

According to the Probable Cause Statement filed by Police, Gaul has said that family members were stealing money from him while imprisoned, his Mother “slow to come around,” but “confessing” to taking $40,000.

Gaul denies killing his Mother, saying he “did not know whose blood was on his face or hands." Arrested and taken to a hospital detox ward, Gaul appeared in court Friday where he was charged with First Degree Murder and still seemed “disoriented.” Bail was set at $750,000.

As son-in-law Lee Liston said, "The system just broke down." And now, a 90 year-old woman described by family and neighbors as a gentle, beloved individual is dead, brutally beaten to death, presumably by her son.

1 comment:

matahara07 said...

I am her granddaughter and know the situation better than most - even those quoted in the papers. No one embezzled money from him - he actually borrowed money from people and never paid them back. He paid them back and then was upset that he had.... My grandmother was a wonderful individual who didn't deserve to die this way - she still drove her stick-shift car, traveled extensively, volunteered, went to college and had a zest for life that most people on this Earth do not have. The system is what failed - and what eventually killed my grandmother. If we were able to put him into a mental institution like we had been trying to - where he should have been, this would not have happened.