Ruth Daarud is out of the hospital and healing from a near fatal knife attack.
Updated at 5:46 p.m. on Wednesday May 30, 2012
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
ROCHESTER – Five days before Amanda Lee Bassell was arrested for allegedly plunging a kitchen knife into her sleeping mother’s throat, her mother asked the state Department of Corrections to get the 23-year-old out of their Rochester home, because she was afraid for her own life.
Bassell was released from prison in mid-May, after being locked up for almost three years for assaulting her uncle with a knife and for assaulting a guard shortly after being incarcerated.
She was under the supervision of a community corrections officer. The former Centralia resident was approved to live with her parents.
Amanda Lee Bassell
Ruth Daarud, 42, said she told the community corrections office that she repeatedly had to take a knife away from her grown daughter and feared something would happen.
“She kept hiding a knife,” Dallas Daarud, Bassell’s father, said. “She sneaked it and would hide it in her purse or in her room, for protection she said.”
The Daaruds contend community corrections officers missed three home visits during the nine days their daughter was out, and failed to follow through after saying they would take her away and find alternative housing.
The near fatal attack could have been prevented, they say
“She was out of control, they neglected to make a home visit,” Dallas Daarud said. “I hold them fully responsible for my wife almost dying.”
A spokesperson for DOC said their after-release monitoring of convicts can only minimize the risk they will reoffend.
“There’s nothing anybody can do to guarantee somebody’s not going to commit a new crime,” spokesperson Chad Lewis said. “Even incarceration doesn’t prevent it.”
Lewis said last Thursday he’d been promoted to director of communications for DOC, and couldn’t address if any field visits were missed, but he would have a spokesperson call the following day to respond to more detailed questions.
He noted that community corrections officers don’t find places for released inmates to reside; they only approve addresses.
The former Salzer Valley couple said they moved into a house in south Thurston County this spring, specifically so their daughter might have a chance for success when she got of prison. Bassell was prohibited from going to Lewis County. The Daaruds thought that would help keep her from her old friends and temptations.
DOC approved the plan, they said.
“A couple of days before, they came to visit to make sure the house was finished, go through and lay out the rules for us,” Dallas Daarud said. “To tell us she’s dangerous, and how closely they’re going to watch her.”
Then they never came back, he said.
Bassell, who also goes by her given name of Daarud, went from an honor roll student to outrageous and out of control almost overnight, according to her parents. She told a psychologist she began smoking methamphetamine in high school.
She was diagnosed as bipolar years ago, her father said.
By age 20, she’d tallied up six felony convictions.
The Daaruds said they thought their daughter would get her mental health problems treated while incarcerated, but instead, she spent most of her time in solitary confinement while at the Washington Corrections Center for Women near Purdy.
“Sometimes she’d be in there, just her,” Ruth Daarud said. “No books, no magazines. If she behaved, she could get a radio and TV.”
After awhile, she decided she didn’t want out of “the hole” anymore, her mother said.
Bassell was released on May 11, just before Mothers Day.
She was under the highest of four levels of supervision by the community corrections division of DOC, meaning they would make more home visits than usual, according to Lewis.
He said she was supervised out of the Olympia office.
“We thought that we would give her a chance because we’re her parents,” Ruth Daarud said. “But then we knew within a couple of days it wasn’t going to work.”
It was the Tuesday after her daughter came home that Ruth Daarud accompanied her to the community corrections satellite office in Rochester, she said.
While her daughter was out of the room, she told the community corrections officer about the knife, and told her her daughter had tried to hurt them before, she said.
“They said they would come by that evening when they were done with their visits,” she said. “But they never came.”
Ruth Daarud said she was told also the community corrections officer would come over the following day and remove her daughter. They waited, and nobody showed up, she said.
Early in the morning on May 20, Ruth Daarud awoke in her bed when she felt a hand over her mouth, was stabbed in the neck and fought her daughter to get the knife away, she and prosecutors say.
“That night, it was survival, I just did what I had to do to live,” she said.
Ruth Daarud said she made her way to the kitchen where she dialed 911. She thought her daughter had killed her husband because she didn’t know where he was, she said.
Dallas Daarud said he had fallen asleep downstairs, and didn’t know what woke him, but he found the back door open and his wife outside by their hot tub.
They began walking south on Elderberry Street Southwest toward his brother’s home, and that’s when deputies arrived, they said.
She was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia where she underwent surgery and stayed four days.
“All the surgeon could say is there’s no explanation for why it didn’t kill her,” her husband said.
The knife went nearly through, stopping short of her spinal cord, scraping her carotid artery and damaging her esophagus and trachea, her family said.
Ruth Daarud said she thinks her daughter tried to kill her because she blames her parents for everything that is wrong in her life.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said Bassell fled after the incident, and was found that night, barefoot and wet, hiding in an abandoned house a few blocks away.
The 23-year-old is being held on $500,000 bail in the Thurston County Jail. She was charged last week with attempted first-degree murder.
The state Department of Corrections is conducting what it calls a critical incident review.
Spokesperson Selena Davis said couldn’t answer many questions, as she didn’t know the details.
“We recommend anytime someone feels in imminent danger to call 911,” Davis said.
Davis said it’s important to remember the job of a community corrections officer is not to provide emergency response, but is a long term process to help transition offenders back into society.
How often a person on monitoring should be seen is up to the individual community corrections officer, she said.
It can be as few as two in person contacts in a month to as much as a daily phone call, she said.
“Typically for the majority in a caseload, an offender would be seen once a week,” she said. “At their home or in the office.”
The review of how Bassell’s case was handled could be finished in as little as two months, according to Davis.
The Daaruds say their daughter needs help they can’t give her.
She is smart, manipulative and – her father thinks – suffering from mental problems from previous drug use, and exacerbated by spending almost three years alone in a 9-foot by 9-foot cell.
Ruth Daarud didn’t raise her voice or emphasize any particular word when she said what she hoped the outcome would be in court.
“I want her to pay for what she did and I don’t ever want to see her again,” she said.
Dallas Daarud is “through the roof” angry, he says.
Her mother was her last chance for support, he says about their daughter.
“And if they could have just done their job, and she’d still have that,” he said.
Ruth Daarud is healing. Her voice will improve, she said quietly.
“I really would like to see my daughter find some peace,” she said. “But I don’t think she ever will.”
For background, read:
• “Rochester woman accused of stabbing mother, convicted previously of knife assault” from Tuesday May 22, 2012 at 10:48 p.m., here
• “Breaking news: Rochester stabbing suspect found hiding in abandoned house” from Sunday May 20, 2012 at 7:55 p.m., here
• “Breaking news: Woman sought after early morning stabbing in Rochester” from Sunday May 20, 2012 at 10:28 a.m., here
Ruth Daarud is back at the Rochester home she shares with her husband following a knife attack nine days ago.