ATF: Armed, armored Seattle man tied to killing was selling heroin

CaptionCloseAlena Stathopoulos was found dead at Squak Mountain Park on April 25, 2004. Police hoping to identify the remains circulated a sketch, pictured above in an Issaquah Press clipping, after her remains were found. The only person ever convicted in...

ATF: Armed, armored Seattle man tied to killing was selling heroin

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Alena Stathopoulos was found dead at Squak Mountain Park on April 25, 2004. Police hoping to identify the remains circulated a sketch, pictured above in an Issaquah Press clipping, after her remains were found. The only person ever convicted in her death was sentenced to just more than two years in prison.

Alena Stathopoulos was found dead at Squak Mountain Park on April 25, 2004. Police hoping to identify the remains circulated a sketch, pictured above in an Issaquah Press clipping, after her remains were found.

Alena Stathopoulos arrived in Seattle at 25, hoping to make it as an actress.

By 29, she was dead on a roadside in the foothills of the Cascades, beaten and poisoned. Her madam had paid a man $10,000 to dump her body there.

Two boys hiking in Squak Mountain Park found Stathopoulos on April 25, 2004. Her face had been badly bruised and she was partially stripped; investigators determined she died of a lethal dose of meth.

It was a bitter end to a long slide for Stathopoulos. King County Sheriff’s Office homicide detectives would come to learn she had worked for Esther Havekost, an escort service operator, to feed her drug addiction.

Havekost came to believe Stathopoulos was stealing from her daughter’s “college fund” – a jar packed with a couple hundred dollars – and invited her friend Lawrence “Lonnie” Hill over to teach Stathopoulos a lesson. Detectives claimed Hill delivered the beating while Havekost delivered the poison, “worm water” spiked with five grams of meth. Havekost was heard telling others she did it to “make a point.”

Havekost pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served about two years in prison. Hill was never convicted of a crime related to Stathopoulos’ death.

Rather than try to make a case against Hill, King County prosecutors passed along the claims against him to their federal counterparts.

Hill pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge in April 2005. He and prosecutors had agreed to request the 10-year term imposed in a plea deal. Prosecutors agreed not to charge him with crimes related to Stathopoulos’ death or two other incidents, including one in which Hill was alleged to have fired five shots into a truck belonging to his ex-girlfriend’s new man.

He was sentenced in 2006 after pleading guilty and promising to turn his life around.

He did not.

Capitol Hill arrest prompts federal charges

Though body armor is a no-no for convicted felons, Hill perhaps could be forgiven for donning a vest.

Hill was shot five times just months after his release from prison in 2013. The circumstances of the shooting aren’t clear in court records, but he appears to have been working and settling back into life in Port Townsend when he was nearly killed.

But ballistic vests are only good for a couple of things – they often stop bullets and they’re intimidating as hell. They can’t protect a man from himself.

On New Year’s Eve, a Seattle police officer patrolling Capitol Hill found Hill behind the wheel of his recently crashed Mercedes-Benz coupe.

Hill’s intoxication was immediately evident to the officer, a Seattle Police Department detective said in court papers. The officer noted Hill’s body armor as well; from prior contacts with Hill, the officer knew he had been shot previously and often wore a ballistic vest.

An uncapped syringe fell from Hill’s person as he stepped out of the car, said the detective, who also serves on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives anti-gang task force. Hill nonetheless denied using heroin, claiming he accidentally poked himself with the uncapped needle.

Hill was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Investigators searching his car found $2,500 in cash, 10 ounces of black tar heroin, brass knuckles and a large bag of marijuana.

“When initially asked about the heroin, Hill refused to respond, but later informed (the officer) that he had the heroin because he was ‘(an expletive) drug addict,’” the detective said in court papers.

The officer spotted a Colt 1911-style pistol on the floorboard of the Mercedes, the detective continued. Police say Hill had a 9mm bullet in his pocket when he arrived at King County Jail early on New Year’s Day.

Searching Hill’s iPhone, investigators found text messages indicating Hill was dealing drugs, according to court papers. It seems Hill, who has always received court-appointed attorneys, purchased the 2012 Mercedes for $29,000 not long before his arrest.

‘I need to stay as far away from guns as possible’

Court records show Hill has consistently been in trouble since he got out of prison. He was jailed repeatedly for violated conditions of his release and committing new, relatively minor crimes.

Following a December 2013 incident in which Hill menaced his girlfriend’s ex, Hill penned a lengthy letter to the court explaining why he would stay away from guns.

“Believe me when I tell you that the 120-month sentence I received for firearms possession taught me that I need to stay as far away from guns as possible,” Hill said in that letter. “Not only that, I also realized how much of my life I have wasted, away from my family and other loved ones due to my drug use and criminal behavior.”

Now, though, Hill is looking forward to wasting years more of his life if convicted on charges contained in an indictment returned Wednesday. All three counts – most seriously, possession of a gun while committing a drug trafficking crime – relate to his New Year’s Eve arrest. He remains jailed at the SeaTac Federal Detection Center.

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