For Woman Nearly Beaten To Death, Crime Scene Is Md. Home
SEVERN, Md. (AP) — It took layers of paint to cover the blood, her blood, spattered on the living room walls.
With each stroke of the brush, Deanna Ries-Pace flashes back to the night she was nearly beaten to death in her Severn home.
She was already living paycheck-to-paycheck before it happened. Afterward, paying a crew to clean the home — the crime scene — was not an option.
She can’t afford to move.
Jarob Walsh was sentenced to the maximum 30 years for trying to kill the 34-year-old single mother in the early morning hours of Dec. 10, 2011. On June 26, three county judges denied his request for a sentence modification.
But the story is far from over for Ries-Pace. Eighteen months after the attack, the crime has left her emotionally, physically and financially broken.
“I have to continue to live here, in my own near-death crime scene,” she said. “Here I stand with nothing. I have nothing but blood everywhere.”
The couple met online about six months before the attack.
Soon after, Walsh moved into the apartment Ries-Pace called home, a cramped basement unit within the Thompson Avenue house where her grandmother raised her. Her 73-year-old grandmother, Betty Brown, and 14-year-old daughter, Alexis, live upstairs.
Ries-Pace said Walsh was sweet and kind.
“We had fun together,” she said. “He was good to me.”
Then he started drinking. Walsh, an Army veteran, once spoke on “60 Minutes” about surviving a deadly 2004 attack in Baghdad and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Walsh’s behavior took a turn for the worst in the fall of 2011.
He verbally abused Ries-Pace. He called her unprintable names. He talked as if she were beneath him.
“I didn’t become scared of him until he started drinking so much,” she said.
He’d drink anything he could get his hands on, she said.
The night before the attack, Ries-Pace stayed home while Walsh went to Virginia to visit friends. She said he drank all day, then went barhopping. His temper rose with each drink.
Alexis was at a sleepover. Brown, who is hard of hearing, took prescription sleep medication and went to bed upstairs.
Walsh and Ries-Pace began exchanging heated text messages about his drinking. He accused her of cheating. She fell asleep in bed and awoke at 4:30 a.m. to Walsh ripping a curtain rod off the doorway.
Walsh kicked his dog and swung the rod, smashing a table. He swung again, striking Ries-Pace, and then kicked her into a closet wall.
Walsh kicked and stomped Ries-Pace repeatedly. Her grandmother slept through her screams.
Walsh put Ries-Pace in a chokehold, causing her to lose consciousness twice.
When she came to, Walsh told her she needed to die because of the amount of blood that covered the floor, walls and ceiling.
As Ries-Pace begged for her life, Walsh found a piece of glass and wrapped it in a cloth.
“I’ll make it fast,” he said.
“I need to use the bathroom,” she said.
And that is what saved her life.
Walsh calmed down. He was sobbing as he opened the bathroom door.
He gave Ries-Pace a bath, Advil and Tylenol PM.
Ries-Pace sent a text message to Alexis saying she’d been in a car accident.
The excuse didn’t fool her family, who immediately suspected Walsh. He told the family she’d been in a bar fight.
Ries-Pace was eventually taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, where Walsh stayed by her side. She was transferred to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore with a broken nose and orbital that required reconstructive surgery.
Days went by before the truth was revealed.
Ries-Pace convinced Walsh to visit his family in Illinois. She used the chance to meet with police and tell them about the violent attack.
The family members each packed a bag and went to stay elsewhere until Walsh’s arrest. They had the locks on the doors changed.
Police went to the basement apartment to investigate. There were so many bloodstains detectives used the alphabet twice while placing evidence markers.
After Walsh’s arrest in January 2012, Ries-Pace returned home — to her own crime scene.
Some of what little cleanup had been done was by Walsh and Ries-Pace just after the assault.
“First thing (Walsh) had me do was clean the door,” she said. “The door. I thought I was going to die at that door.”
The basement apartment is small, with a bedroom, living room and bathroom. The ceilings are low.
Ries-Pace’s blood was spattered from floor to wall to ceiling.
She bought three gallons of paint to cover the walls and 30 bottles — $480 worth — of hydrogen peroxide.
“The nursing staff told me to use it,” she said. “That’s what they use to clean up blood.”
The boxes in which she put many of her belongings remain stacked in the garage. Cups collected from the Renaissance festival, five-wick candles.
“But it was mine. This is my stuff. It meant something to me,” she said.
In January, Ries-Pace ripped the carpet from the floor. She couldn’t handle looking at the large blood stains.
“I can’t afford new carpet,” she said. “I’d just gotten that damn carpet.”
Blood remains in nooks and crannies, on the sofa, shower curtain and on light fixtures.
She will get to it.
Ries-Pace has a job at a local roofing company. She makes less than $30,000 a year. The paychecks aren’t enough.
She did not have health insurance at the time of the attack. She has medical bills and expenses for prescriptions and therapy sessions.
Medical Assistance helped cover her reconstructive surgery. She has four metal plates in her face. She now has to wear glasses and her left eye now sits 2 millimeters farther back in her skull.
She has been advised to undergo an additional medical procedure to remove the 20-plus lashes pushing into her eyeball. But she can’t afford another medical bill.
Her trauma counselor doesn’t charge to see Ries-Pace.
“I am utterly drowning in debt.”
At the urging of Joan Stammintz, a victim advocate in the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office, Ries-Pace applied for assistance from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
She said the board spent a year evaluating her claim, and recently denied it due to lack of proper paperwork. Emails went back and forth for months, and Ries-Pace grew increasingly frustrated.
It was one more thing to deal with.
She gathered every document she could. The Capital made an inquiry about Ries-Pace’s claim to the board last month. Within a day, a victims’ services coordinator contacted Reis-Pace to guide her through the process. So far that coordinator has approved $700 in lost wages and $250 for reimbursement for the cleanup.
There was apparently confusion over what documentation Ries-Pace still needed to provide.
She still has nightmares and flashbacks. It is hard for her to sleep.
“Sometimes the visualizations are so unbearable that I have to get up and leave my own home.”
In tears, she runs out of the house — the crime scene. She gets in her car and drives until she can no longer see from the tears.
She pulls over and bawls.
Ries-Pace has been diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder — the same disorder defense attorneys say drove Walsh to attack.
Walsh suffers flashbacks from Baghdad. She suffers flashbacks of Walsh.
“I live in a constant state of fear. Every noise, every shadow, every stranger,” she said.
She’s not alone.
Her daughter also struggles.
“All I can do now is go to school and struggle,” Alexis stated in a victim impact statement given to three county Circuit Court judges this month.
“Because all I can think about during class is what happened, why this happened and why this had to happen to my family.”
Brown also finds it hard to move on.
“I’m 73 years old and usually a strong person in dealing with tragedies of life, but I am not dealing well with this one at all,” she wrote the judges. “Maybe because I fear it is not over yet and may never be over.”
Prosecutors told Ries-Pace she may never have closure.
Walsh will eventually be released from prison. He will be eligible for a parole hearing in November 2032 — at age 50.
Ries-Pace said that in a strange way the attack has made her stronger.
“I am thankful for every single day that I have with my daughter,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
“You have one chance.”
Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md., http://capitalgazette.com
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)