SEATTLE - Seattle police detectives are investigating two deaths Wednesday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The King County ME identified the dead woman as 38 year-old Lisa Vach, who was found dead in Cal Anderson Park. A man believed to be her partner was also found dead after barricading himself inside a small pump house building.
Sources say the person suspected of the domestic violence homicide is Travis Berge.
Berge was a homeless man in downtown Seattle known for his love of meth and his eccentric behavior.
Documentary filmmakers Devin Greene and Oliver Tang met Berge in June during CHOP’s chaos.
The filmmakers operate YouTube.com/TeamFriendship and featured Berge in their film.
They ran into Berge for the first time minutes after gunshots rang out in the autonomous zone.
“It was really human chaos, I described it myself as the beginning of a universe a supernova with all of these energies,” Greene said.
“He had a super larger than life personality,” Tang said.
But way before the CHOP ever existed, it was hard to find a Seattle Police Officer in the East Precinct that didn’t know the repeat offender.
“He is the original repeat offender who brought me to the problem, the city of Seattle ultimately enabled his behavior,” Scott Lindsay said.
Lindsay met Berge as a public safety adviser for the city of Seattle back in 2015.
“He got into these meth-fueled rages, hundreds of police contacts and hundreds upon hundreds of victims including a very serious crime for attempted rape,” Lindsay said.
That alleged attempted rape happened in 2015 and the charge in Superior Court was amended to second-degree assault. The King County Prosecutor's Office says they agreed to a plea resolution after looking at all of the evidence including the alleged victim in the case not wanting the prosecution to proceed. A King County judge sentenced Berge to 3 months in jail, which he served 2 months of that before being released. The sentencing range set by the Legislature for second degree assault is 3 to 9 months in jail for someone with no felony criminal history. The King County Prosecutor's Office says Berge did not have a felony conviction prior to that time.
That's because most of his nearly 40 criminal convictions since 2014 have been misdemeanors in Municipal Court.
“Our criminal justice system is asleep at the switch,” Lindsay said.
That’s why Lindsay authored the "System Failure" reports spotlighting 100 repeat offenders who he says have been terrorizing so many in the community and hurting themselves.
It’s a report Q13 News has extensively covered over the years, Lindsay says he was hoping for more drug and mental health treatment and in some cases more jail time for those unwilling to change like Berge.
“Nothing has changed in the last year,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay says Berge is the prime example of a repeat offender ending up in the worst-case scenario after not getting the necessary intervention.
“Tragic is the perfect word to describe Travis,” Greene said.
Over the summer Berge was arrested twice, once for obstruction at a protest and the other for failure to disperse. Ultimately those cases went nowhere in the City Attorney’s Office.
City Attorney Pete Holmes announced over the summer that he would not be charging certain misdemeanor cases especially linked to protests.
When Q13 News inquired about Berge’s most recent cases, Holmes sent a statement:
"This tragic alleged domestic violence incident signals the urgent need for more behavioral health treatment resources, more housing access, and additional resources to combat addiction. Our federal government's lack of financial support has starved cities and counties into financing their own tools, but everyone recognizes it’s not enough and that cities can’t meet the need alone." Holmes said.