A man arrested over the shooting deaths of two convicted child rapists -- whose location he found through a sheriff's Internet database of sex offenders -- tried to plead guilty before he had even been formally charged.
Police believe Michael Anthony Mullen might have targeted the men in reaction to a notorious case in Idaho in mid-May in which two children were abducted and one was slain.
"Can I have a speedy trial?" Mullen asked a court official via closed circuit television from jail, during a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. "I would like to plead guilty."
Prosecutor Mac Setter said Mullen was to be formally charged with the murders yesterday. Whatcom County Superior Court Commissioner David Thorn set bail at US$1 million and scheduled Mullen's arraignment -- when a formal plea may be entered -- for Sept. 16.
Police said Mullen, 35, called them on Monday to turn himself in and later confessed to killing Hank Eisses and Victor Vazquez in their shared house on Aug. 27.
The hearing revealed that Mullen may have had help on the day the two men died. Setter said an unidentified woman whom he described as a witness had driven Mullen to and from the scene.
Mullen may have been motivated by the case of Joseph Edward Duncan, a convicted sex offender who is accused of killings and child abductions in Idaho, police said.
"One possible reason was the case in Idaho," Bellingham Police Lieutenant Craige Ambrose said.
Police said that they believed Mullen's claim that he killed the Bellingham sex offenders because he knew details only the killer would know: the caliber of the weapon used and that the victims were each shot once in the head.
"Mullen also said that he had planned the murders for some time and that on July 13, 2005, he had accessed the county sheriff's sex offender Web site, and from that selected at least one of the two victims," a police statement said.
As is typical in Washington, the sheriff's Web site lists the residences of sex offenders who are required to register with local authorities.
Mullen has a criminal record but no history of violence, Ambrose said.