Friends remember Tacoma victim of sex attack

“This case helped convince lawmakers that sexual predators must be treated differently than other criminals”

TACOMA, Wash. — For years, few people knew Ryan Alan Hade’s name.

But what happened to him on a May afternoon in 1989 changed American law forever.

For privacy reasons, he became known as “the little Tacoma boy” who was raped, strangled and mutilated by a convicted sex offender. His tragedy garnered worldwide attention and support.

On Wednesday, 20 years later to the day and on the site where the attack occurred, two dozen family members, friends, community leaders and safe neighborhood advocates gathered at Celebration Park at South D and 80th streets.

They came together for a moment of remembrance.

“What we are here for is not in sorrow, but in celebration of a tragedy that occurred on this site,” Tacoma City Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg said.

She lived a mile from the site in 1989 and became active in South End neighborhood issues and in reclaiming the site as a park after the attack. She announced that she will ask the City Council to rename Celebration Park as Ryan’s Park.

“I don’t expect anyone to be against it,” she said. Ladenburg also read a proclamation from Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma declaring Wednesday to be Ryan Hade Day in the city.

Hade survived the attack that left his penis severed. He healed and grew into a young man with a zest for life. He died in a motorcycle accident in 2005. He was 23.

Over the years more than $1 million poured in from around the world into a trust fund to help him pay for medical and counseling expenses. Hade left the remainder of his trust, more than $800,000, to the Tacoma Community Foundation to administer.

The painful bookends of his short life were not talking points this day in the grassy park where blackberry bushes once grew 20 feet tall. The stories told by those who lived them were how a tragedy transformed itself into something good and lasting.

Ladenburg’s husband, John, was Pierce County prosecutor in 1989 and handled the case that put Ryan’s 39-year-old assailant, Earl Shriner, away for 131 years. Shriner now is in an out-of-state prison.

“Most people do not recognize the profound effect this case had on American law” in the past 20 years, John Ladenburg said.

It helped convince lawmakers that sexual predators must be treated differently than other criminals, he said.

He ticked off other changes connected to the case: longer sentences for sexual predators, creation of special civil commitment centers for sexual predators, a two-strikes-and-out law for sexual predators, and neighborhood notifications when convicted predators set free are living in their midst.

John Ladenburg said he was aware of Shriner before the attack on Hade and had put him in prison once before. He recalled being told by state prison officials that Shriner had told others in prison that when he was released he would offend and mutilate little boys.

He even drew pictures of what he would do.

Ladenburg said the county worked with prison officials to make sure Shriner served every day of his prison term without time off for good behavior. The former prosecutor said he tried to have Shriner committed as mentally ill but “the law would not allow it.”

Changes in the law came too late for Hade.

Dick Mansfield, who still lives across the street from where the boy was attacked, recalled finding Hade that day. Huddled in some bushes, the 7-year-old was naked and covered with mud.

“I knelt down beside him,” Mansfield said. “He was so scared. He couldn’t respond to questions.”

Mansfield picked the boy up, carried him to his house and called 911.

On Wednesday, Connie Ladenberg recalled the day 600 people, including 300 students from nearby Baker Middle School, showed up to clear the area of blackberry bushes.

The neighborhood turned “The Trails,” as the area was known to local kids, into Celebration Park, which today is a grassy meadow with a creek and play equipment.

“Ryan was something else,” said his mother, Helen Harlow, “so energetic, so adventurous, so outgoing. He never lost his smile.”

The attack on her son turned Harlow into an activist on behalf of abused children and changes in sexual predator laws. She formed the Tennis Shoe Brigade that famously dumped thousands of kids’ sneakers on the state Capitol to push for those changes.

After Wednesday’s ceremony, Hade’s grandmother, Betty Foote, recalled bringing her grandson home from the hospital for the first time. On the way they drove by the site of the attack.

“He ducked down” she said. “He didn’t want to see it.”

Later, after Shriner was placed in prison, Foote said her grandson told her he finally felt no fear anymore.

Connie Ladenburg ended the remembrance with a charge to all who were there:

“Remember when you go back to your neighborhoods, keep your eyes open; keep your doors open; and take care of our kids.”

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Richard Dell – Repeat Sex Offender – Charged Sexual Battery

  • Conviction Date: 12/13/1989 Age at conviction: 40 — CRIMINAL CONFINEMENT, IF THE VICTIM IS LESS THAN 18
  • Conviction Date: 11/2/1990 Age at conviction: 41 — SEXUAL BATTERY
  • Conviction Date: 11/2/1990 Age at conviction: 41 — CRIMINAL CONFINEMENT, IF THE VICTIM IS LESS THAN 18
  • Conviction Date: 1/11/1999 Age at conviction: 50 — CHILD MOLESTING


A man was arrested Wednesday evening on a charge of sexual battery after he was seen with an 11-year-old girl in an alley near the girl’s home in Tipton, Indiana State Police said.

Dell was later arrested in Westfield. He was taken to the Tipton County Jail, where he was held on $7,500 bond.

ISP Detective Tony Frawley said witnesses told him that Dell was touching the girl inappropriately. Witnesses confronted Dell, and he fled the area, police said.

Dell, a registered sex offender, told police he was visiting family members in Tipton.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Paul Charles Dishno – Repeat Sex Offender – Pervs on girls at park


A convicted sex offender caught watching young girls play at a Mission Viejo park in April was sentenced to five months in prison for violating his parole.

Paul Charles Dishno, 41, will remain at a state prison in Chino — a determination made by the Board of Parole in hearings on May 12, said Gordon Hinkle a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Dishno, a convicted sex offender, was detained by an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy at a nearby supermarket parking lot after a witness told authorities the driver of a van appeared to have been looking at young girls at El Dorado Park.

During a records check, the deputy was told by state officials that Dishno’s parole prohibited him from being near parks because of a previous conviction.

Dishno had served time for possession of obscene material involving minors and was released on parole in 2008.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Dennis Fagg – Repeat Sex Offender


The case against a convicted sex offender accused of improperly touching a 4-year-old Middletown girl will go before a Butler County grand jury for review.

Dennis Fagg, 46, of West Milton, is charged with gross sexual imposition after police said the girl told her mother he had touched her private area.

Middletown police Detective Fred Shuemake, who testifield Thursday, May 21, durng a preliminary hearing in Middletown Municipal Court, said Fagg, who was arested May 11, was a family friend and had been convicted in 2002 of felony voyeurism. He spent six months in jail on that charge. In that case, Fagg made a sex tape with an adult in which a different 4-year-old child could be seen watching the acts, Shuemake said.

Court records show Fagg was convicted of attempted murder in 2002 after shooting a man, according to Shuemake.

The mother of the girl said she was surprised about Fagg’s past and what he allegedly had done on several occasions while he babysat her daughter.

“I want him locked up for a long time,” she said following the hearing. “It’s all I can think about.”

She said her daughter seems to be emotionally stable because she doesn’t understand what happened.

Fagg was expected to be transported to the Butler County Jail on $30,000 bond on Thursday night.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Roy Pritchard – Repeat Sex Offender

A great grandfather accused of attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl in his sheltered housing flat is a convicted sex offender.

Roy Pritchard, 61, admitted sexually assaulting a supermarket worker at a Co-op store last February, Leeds Crown Court heard.

A jury was shown CCTV evidence of the attack when Pritchard grabbed the woman around her waist as she stacked shelves in January 2007.

She fled to another part of the store but Pritchard followed, picked her up and sexually assaulted her.

Pritchard is standing trial after allegedly luring a 14-year-old girl to his flat at Moorhaven Court, Moortown, Leeds and sexually abusing and attempting to rape her last December.

The girl told police she succumbed to Pritchard’s demands for sex after he held a bread knife to her face and threatened to stab and kill her.

She said: “I was thinking I don’t want to die.”

Giving evidence, Pritchard – who told the jury he is a great grandfather – said he thought the girl was aged 19 or 20 and comforted her with a kiss when he spotted her crying.

He said she came to his flat willingly and sat on his sofa and watched The Simpsons.

Pritchard told the jury: “She definitely wanted it to happen.”

He said he only stopped when she suddenly told him she was 14, and added: “I said ‘You are jail bait’ and I got off her. In my eyes she was 19 all the time.”

Pritchard denied threatening the girl with a knife or stopping her leaving his flat.

He said: “I will not have sex with anyone, regardless of their age, unless they want to have sex; it’s a two way thing with me.”

Forensic tests showed there was evidence of Pritchard’s saliva on the girl’s clothing.

Pritchard denies: false imprisonment; threats to kill; attempted rape; two charges of sexual assault and causing the girl to engage in sexual activity without consent.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte


Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 6:13 am  Leave a Comment