Fugitive murder suspect Kino Gomez, accused of killing Seattle music engineer and producer Tom Pfaeffle in July, could be hiding somewhere in the North Cascades - or lying there dead, Okanogan County law enforcement officials suspect. In an apparent suicide note this week, the former King County road engineer (he resigned effective Monday) says he has left on a "one-way trip" to the mountains with his guns, warning authorities to keep their distance: "Let no one get in my way - I will not be very kind. Despair has now changed to anger," he wrote in a "Goodbye" note to his family, obtained by Seattle Weekly.
"Lose my freedom? Lose my gun rights? I'd rather be dead," he said. "Society's sheep will never comprehend the principle." He repeated some of the same concerns he expressed to SW in a story published last week: "The media, the bloggers, the police, the justice system, none of whom witnessed the alleged crime, already hung me. Hell, the justice system has even likened my 'crime' to that of Charles Manson, for crying out loud! Well, just for spite, I shall deprive society of the circus it so bloody craves - the bearded lady quit[s]!"
A nationwide no-knock arrest warrant was issued this week for Gomez, 57, a Beacon Hill resident charged with killing Pfaeffle for trying to mistakenly enter Gomez's motel room in Twisp, in the Methow Valley. Pfaeffle apparently mistook Gomez's room for his; his key fit into the door, police said, because Gomez's lock was broken. Gomez, who had a chair braced against the door and was sleeping with two handguns, rose up and began firing. Afterwards, he told police, he "came to my senses" but still thought an intruder was outside. He hid in his bathroom until police coaxed him to surrender.
SW this week learned Gomez changed his name from Miguel Esquerra in the late 1980s, when he worked for the state Department of Transportation. A co-worker recalls he carried a pistol in his lunch box. "He said he carried the gun for personal safety reasons that he would not share," says the co-worker, who later learned from another worker that his concerns were related to "something from a political situation going back to the Philippines," Esquerra/Gomez's native land.
In his goodbye note [Update: the letter was mailed Sept. 4, giving Gomez - free on $100,000 bail - a long head start], the fugitive writes:"By the time you read this letter, I will be gone. I have taken a one-way trip to the mountains. It is where I belong. Over the years, I have contemplated the type of exit I will make, barring death by natural causes. This is the one I chose then, it is what I now plan to do...As usual, I am packing two pieces [guns]...It will be quick and painless."
He said it was "a big mistake" to voluntarily give up and speak to police after the shooting, when he provided details that indicated he fired recklessly in killing Pfaeffle, 49, owner of a recording studio in Black Diamond and an instructor at the Art Institute of Seattle.
Facing a possible long prison term and a likely civil lawsuit, Gomez told his family (he's divorced with no children, but has an ex-wife and many relatives in the area): "I regret that I had caused you the embarrassment, the financial burden I cannot possibly repay and the grief. I am sorry. You all take care."