Rob Cook was an opinionated red-neck right-wing Republican, worked in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, operated a business as an electrical contractor on the side, and car pooled daily from Port Townsend…a Reagan acolyte to the core. Along with his wife, he doted on his 2 girls, the older developmentally disabled (retarded). He’s dead now, so it’s too late to kick him around for any of that.
Rob liked to talk a great deal during the commute. Since he was the driver, nobody objected. Many things, including his arch conservative streak, came to light during these monologues. Rob’s difficulties, due to his older girl’s condition, were unique but powerful in the telling.
Rob often spoke of how the State workers would approach him and his wife regarding his oldest’s future. They wanted Rob to relinquish custody in favor of a group home. Rob and his wife were reluctant to do so. They loved their girls too much and, frankly, didn’t trust the State. The workers persisted. They asked what would become of Leslie when Rob and her mother became too old to care for her. Wouldn’t she be better off gaining some independence in a group home, they asked? The dilemma remained unanswered for many many months. Meanwhile, the commute monologues and tales of Rob’s successful battle with alcoholism continued unabated until yours truly later left the PSNS.
Raising a teenager is always challenging. Raising one mentally handicapped doubly so. Rob told of an incident mixed with emotion and irony.
One weekend, he allowed his two girls (the younger by 3 years accompanied her sister) to spend a Friday evening at a Skateland in Sequim. But a little after an hour later, a phone call from the manager asked Rob to come and pick up his 2 children. Rob knew something serious must have happened and rushed into the dark driving the large pickup he used for transporting supplies to his job sites.
Upon arrival, the Skateland manager explained a fight had broken out between some boys at the facility and his 2 girls. Embarrassed, Rob apologized to the manager and ushered his 2 children to the truck. On the long trip home that night, Rob asked his youngest (being the more articulate) what had happened. ‘Brittany’ (pseudo-name for her privacy) attempted to remain calm while she recounted how the boys had started to tease the 2 girls on the floor until it viciously escalated as they began calling her sister ‘Retardo’. Brittany burst into tears while admitting she lost it, tackled two of the boys and was astride one, pounding on him, before the manager was able to pull her off. An awkward silence enveloped the cab punctuated only by Brittany’s sobbing and Leslie’s humiliation.
“Well,” drawled Rob after considering the matter, “you really shouldn’t fight, Brittany. That’s wrong.” And then, after a further pause, he added, “But, I’m proud as Hell of ya!”
Some months later, Rob proudly shared a moment in the life of his oldest when she came home for a visit. Rob and his wife had succumbed to the blandishments of the State workers. They very reluctantly signed the paperwork allowing Leslie to live in a Port Angeles group home run by the State.
Rob bragged about how ‘independent’ his daughter was becoming, even copping a feisty new attitude often found in teens when interacting with their parents. Rob was proud.
Not much more information about Leslie came out given Rob wasn’t exactly a pal and employment at the PSNS, thus the commute soliloquies, had ended. Still, Rob’s colorful opinions and the bright demarcation of affection for his girls was unforgettable.
One day, perhaps a couple of years or more later, a small article appeared in a local paper. A young developmentally disabled woman living in a Port Angeles group home had been raped and strangled near Sequim. The paper did not print her name.
My heart sank. Rob’s stories and the picture he painted of his daughters instantly came to mind. Any hope it was someone else was dashed after a little investigation. A man named Charles Dean Bingham had been arrested for the murder and was later convicted of the crime.
40 Wn. App. 553, STATE v BINGHAM
CITE: 40 Wn. App. 553, 699 P.2d 262
STATE v. BINGHAM
CAUSE NUMBER: 7464-8-II
FILE DATE: May 8, 1985
CASE TITLE: The State of Washington, Respondent, v. Charles Dean Bingham, Appellant
One can only wonder at the pain and heartache Rob and his wife must have felt 2nd guessing their decision to allow a fragile daughter’s welfare be administered by the State. Leslie and Rob’s love for one another are missed, their two candles snuffed out. If there’s a Heaven, Rob and his daughter are in it–together. And if there’s a Hell, Charles Dean Bingham and the State will be there–together!
Why the State?
We are asked to decide whether the time to effect death by manual strangulation is alone sufficient to support a finding of premeditation in the absence of any other evidence supporting such a finding. We hold it is not. Accordingly, we reverse the conviction of Charles Dean Bingham for aggravated first degree murder. We also overrule STATE v. SMITH, 12 Wn. App 720
Some say Rob died of a broken heart.