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Aggravated Murder, Other Charges Against Transient

September 19, 1990 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) _ A transient with a history of mental illness has confessed to an ax slaying and several other crimes that had terrorized a Seattle neighborhood, prosecutors said.

James William Cushing, 36, was charged Tuesday in the death of Geneva McDonald in the Queen Anne neighborhood. He also was charged with attempted murder in a knife attack on a man in the neighborhood and two counts of burglary and one count of attempted burglary, according to papers filed in King County Superior Court.

Lee Yates, senior deputy prosecuting attorney, told the court of Cushing’s confessions.


The March 12 killing of McDonald and burglaries involving axes led to the establishment of ″Block Watch″ programs in the upscale neighborhood. There was a run on alarm systems and many people reportedly armed themselves.

Cushing was arrested Sept. 13 downtown after finger and hand prints were traced, and a burglary victim took a picture of a man fleeing the scene, authorities said.

Cushing is accused of attempting to kill Ian Warren on June 17. Warren was staying with friends a few blocks from McDonald’s house when he was attacked by a man with a knife. Warren was cut on one hand.

″The defendant in his confession to Seattle police told them he was trying to kill (the man),″ Yates said.

An affidavit filed by Yates alleged Cushing often ate fruit in the residences he entered, usually through unlocked doors. On at least two occasions, written messages, including the scrawled words ″The killer is back,″ were left on walls, authorities said.

Yates said the crimes began March 8 when Cushing entered the home of Paul DeBarros. The next morning, DeBarros found fruit missing and an ax in his living room.

Police dusted the ax for fingerprints and returned it to DeBarros, who put it on his back porch. The ax was stolen from the porch on March 10 or 11 and was used in the McDonald slaying, the affidavit said.

McDonald was bludgeoned and also was stabbed with scissors. The attacker ate fruit at her home, ransacked her purse and left with money and jewelry.

Cushing, whose mother lives in Seattle, has led a transient life style for years. He was described in court papers as being a danger to the community.