Brian Charles Watts committed a number of gruesome crimes in 1996. Over two decades later, he is set to be released from prison.
Watts is due to be released Dec. 18 to live with his 80-year-old mother in Carnation, adjacent to Duvall, where he raped and abducted his victims. He was 27 years old at the time of the crimes.
Community members in Carnation and Duvall are concerned for their safety and have asked that he be committed to a correctional facility in McNeil Island instead. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, each resident requested to remain anonymous.
“Unfortunately, the man did spend his time [in prison] and has rights to live where he wants,” Mayor Kim Lisk said in response to an anonymous concern at a Carnation City Council meeting Dec. 3.
At the meeting, one person said Watts comes across like Ted Bundy. Another person said they don’t believe someone like this can be rehabilitated.
Lisk suggested residents contact the school district to see if any bus stops are scheduled near the proposed residence. She said that stopped a sex offender house from being placed in unincorporated King County back in 2000.
Watts was accused of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree rape in the abduction of a teenage girl in the fall of 1996 near Seattle Center. He plead guilty in King County Superior Court on April 22, 1997.
The maximum penalty Watts would receive under terms of the plea agreement is 27 years and three months in prison, the Seattle Times reported in 1997. The state recommended that Superior Court Judge Patricia Aitken impose the maximum penalty.
In the attempted murder case, Watts abducted a 16-year-old girl as she waited for a bus near the Seattle Center. He grabbed her from behind, hit her, handcuffed her and drove her to a secluded area on Stossel Creek near Duvall.
Watts raped the victim and was accused of trying to break her neck before leaving her for dead, according to charging papers.
A few months prior to the court hearing, he also plead guilty to the first-degree rape of a 40-year-old woman.
Watts beat the woman, tied her up and drove her to a wooded area east of Duvall. He raped her not far from where the other incident occurred.
It was a King County police detective that eventually helped authorities stop Watts. Nancy Patino was the agency’s first sketch artist, the Spokesman Review reported in 1996. Her two sketches, based on descriptions from faces, prompted a Seattle police officer’s decision to pull Watts over as he drove along Aurora Avenue.
Before sketch artists, officers relied on a traditional “Identi-Kit” sketches. The old-style system was produced by using more than 600 overlapping transparencies of different characteristics, leaving out information on facial features and skin tones. Patino produced an actual drawing based on the two victims’ descriptions of the subject.
If not for Patino, Watts may not have served any time at all.
Residents at both Carnation and Duvall City Council meetings requested information on ways to protest the proposed residence for the serial rapist. Each person asked for a councilmember to help get Watts permanently committed to McNeil Island.
“That individual would be living in unincorporated king county, which is outside of our jurisdiction,” Mayor Amy Ockerlander said at a Duvall City Council meeting Dec. 3. “The challenging thing is this individual has served their time.”
Ockerlander said Watts will be under the supervision of a probationary department. King County manages those offenders, not the City, she added.
“It’s a challenging situation,” she said. “I think all of us as parents are always concerned when we find out that these people are in our communities.”
The King County Prosecutors Sexually Violent Predator’s Unit had an expert evaluate the inmate for civil commitment to McNeil Island, but the inmate did not meet the criteria for commitment. Many residents want to see a re-evaluation of the inmate.
According to the state Department of Social and Health Services, civil commitment requires an End of Sentence Review Committee to review every sex offender prior to release from confinement.
The committee evaluates the inmate’s offense history, involvement and progress in sex offender treatment, mental health status and any other relevant information to assess the level of risk for re-offending upon release.
The department said nearly 800 sex offenders, including about 200 high-risk offenders, are released to the community upon completion of their criminal sentence every year.
The Special Commitment Center is a post-sentence treatment institution in Washington state for people designated as sexually violent predators. It is located on McNeil Island, where the majority of the population are civilly committed former prison inmates or families with at least one member working at the facility.
The Department of Corrections will be evaluating his mother’s house in Carnation as a prospective residence within the next couple of weeks before his release.
“Our hands are pretty much tied and that is the way the judicial system works at this point,” Ockerlander said.