Yvonne Wanrow’s Background ~ Colville

Published on February 14, 2011 by Casey

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Yvonne WanrowYvonne Wanrow

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Wanrow first moved in with her sister and family, and into a rented home shortly thereafter. She survived by working odd jobs and receiving welfare. Her children were cared for by a neighborhood woman named Shirley Hooper, whose daughter had contracted a sexually transmitted infection some months prior. The child had been unwilling to reveal the identity of her abuser until the night of the shooting. Early in the month of August, Hooper heard a prowler trying to break into her window, and someone tore the screen covering her bedroom window only two days prior to the shooting

August 11, 1972

On August 11, 1972, Wanrow’s son complained to Hooper that while he was at play in the neighborhood with Hooper’s eldest daughter, a man later identified as William Wesler lured them into his house and locked the screen door behind them. The children saw a knife on the counter nearby and fled. Wesler grabbed Wanrow’s son and tried to drag him back into the house, but he managed to break free and run to safety. Shortly after the boy made Wesler’s actions known, Hooper called the police, who went to her home. The accused arrived at the house, saying, “I didn’t touch the kid, I didn’t touch the kid.” At that point, Hooper’s daughter identified him as the man who had molested her the previous June. Wesler left the premises, and the police told Hooper they couldn’t arrest him “until Monday morning” after she filed a formal complaint.

Hooper called Wanrow at her home and told her about the altercation and her daughter’s identification of the man who had raped her. Wanrow had been home trying to contact someone to repair her car. She pleaded with Hooper to bring all the children by taxi to her home where they would be safe. Hooper said the police told her the worst thing she could do was to leave her home and instead asked Wanrow if she could borrow her gun for protection. Concerned about her two children as well as Hooper and her three children, Wanrow took a taxi to Hooper’s home. The landlord of the property informed the two mothers that Wesler had attempted to molest another young boy who had previously lived at the same residence, and that he had been committed to the Eastern State Hospital for the mentally ill. Hooper and the landlord said the police suggested that they “conk him over the head” with a baseball bat should he try to return and another advised them to “wait until he gets in the house”.

Late at night after the landlord left, Wanrow and Hooper became frightened, although they had the pistol with them. They invited Wanrow’s sister and brother-in-law to the house, who arrived with three of their children. The four adults did not sleep in order to better guard against any possible aggression. At about five o’clock in the morning, unbeknownst to the women in the house, Wanrow’s brother-in-law went to Wesler’s residence and accused him of pedophilia. Wesler was intoxicated, and he and an associate were persuaded to return to the Hooper home to reconcile their differences. As Wesler attempted to enter the residence, Hooper yelled at him to get out of there, causing some commotion. Wanrow’s three-year-old nephew awoke and began crying, prompting Wesler, who had by this time entered the home, to state, “My, what a cute little boy”. Wesler made a move for the child, which upset his mother, Wanrow’s sister. An emotional situation developed during which Wanrow drew her pistol and shot and killed Wesler. His associate was also hit, but he survived and fled. Hooper called Crime Check (similar to 911), and the call was recorded. During the conversation, the telephone was passed to Wanrow, who confessed to the killing and expressed a distrust of the police. Although she was unequivocally terribly upset, Wanrow was not screaming. This stereotype of a hysterical woman was used against her by the prosecution to persuade the jury that she was calm. This recording was to play prominently in her conviction and in its subsequent overturn.

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