The Vigilante of Clallam County

Patrick Drum was tired of seeing sex offenders hurt children. So he decided to kill them.
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On a morning last fall, Patrick Drum sat quietly in his black and white striped uniform and handcuffs as he awaited his fate. The sleeves of his top were short enough to reveal a tattoo reading “Win Some” on his right forearm and one reading “Lose Sum” on the left. From the court’s gallery where dozens of reporters and community members sat, he seemed barely to move as the families of the two men he had killed four months before came forward to speak.

 “The only thing I’ll say is I don’t has no sympathy for the man who shot and killed my son,” said Jerry Ray’s father, Paul, his voice breaking. The wife of the other victim, Gary Blanton, said Drum’s followers were harassing her and her family—spitting at them, parking at night outside her home. “Tell your supporters to stop,” she said. “My children and I don’t deserve this… I think we’ve suffered enough.”

Prosecutor Deb Kelly recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders, plus time for burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm. “What Mr. Drum has done diminishes us all,” she said. “There is no room for vigilantism. There is no room for what he has done. And no one in authority will ever tolerate vigilantism. It will be sought out, those who commit it will be sought out. They will be sought—“

Drum interrupted her. “This country was founded on vigilantism,” he said.

Kelly ignored him and continued. “You piece of shit,” someone from the galley called to Drum.

The defense attorney spoke briefly. Drum rose and curtly apologized for the hurt caused to the families, asking his supporters to leave them alone. “As for the men themselves,” he said, speaking of his victims, “actions speak louder than words.”

The judge gave Drum a sentence of life without parole. “See you in hell, fucker,” someone shouted as he departed. “Love you guys,” Drum said to the crowd. “God bless you,” said another.

As far as Drum was concerned, he had been protecting the community’s children when he murdered Paul Ray’s son and Leslie Blanton’s husband. He may have killed two sex offenders in June of that year, but he had set out to kill sixty more.

In the months after the killings, Drum’s case had divided the small community. Both Sequim, where Drum and his victims had lived at the time of the murders, and Port Angeles, an adjacent town where Drum spent most of his life, lie in the rain shadow of Washington’s Olympic Mountains and are relatively small—just 7,000 and 19,000 residents, respectively. Mills were the lifeblood of this area, but many closed during the worst of the recession. A few years ago, Twilight fans flocked to the region on pilgrimages to the nearby city of Forks, the main setting of the fantasy novels and films, but Twilight tourism eventually tapered off. Off the main highways, large houses are mixed in with cabins and shacks. There are horses fenced in on private properties, fields and apple trees, snow-capped mountains and the cool waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Kay Gerdes/www.sequimwa.gov

Everyone knew about the murders. Many residents showed their support by writing letters and showing up at court. Some said they had been raped and that Drum was their hero. Courtroom spectators would yell things like “Way to go!” during proceedings.

As stories of the murders were posted online, comments from readers around the country poured in. Drum was a star and a hero. Drum had no right to play God. He had watched too much television. How could anyone support a murderer? How could anyone support a sex offender? Where could they send Drum money? More still seemed unsure how to feel: They disliked sex offenders, but didn’t know if murder was the solution.

To those who supported Drum, any ethical objections to murder were outweighed by the need to protect children. Discussing the case online, one reader commented, “If it were my child, I would […] think of [Drum] as a hero…sex offenses can be a life long agony and pain.” Another wrote simply, “Looks like he took out the trash.” A man interviewed on camera outside the Clallam County Courthouse said, “I honestly feel that it was justified.”

In fact, Drum’s crime wasn’t as unusual as it seemed. Between 15 to 20 percent of convicted sex offenders report vigilantism or harassment; According to Professor Jill Levenson of Lynn University in Florida, about one-third of offenders lose their jobs or homes, are harassed, or have property damaged because of their status. In some cases, children grow up to attack those who hurt them when they were young. In 2012, a man from San Jose, California, beat the priest who allegedly raped him and his brother when they were children. In other cases, the attackers have no connection to the offenders, as in 2011 when a St. Louis man approached a 74-year-old neighbor whom he knew was a registered sex offender and asked to borrow sugar. He allegedly attacked the man, who had been charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl in 1991, with a hammer. He later told police that he was “doing God’s work.”

Vigilantes, and especially those who target pedophiles, often harbor a deep belief that they’re doing what’s necessary to protect others from grave harm. “They think the state’s not doing enough,” said Dr. Lisa Arellano, a historian and professor who studies vigilantism at Colby College in Maine. “And I think those two claims go hand in hand—the state isn’t doing enough to protect your community, so you have to do something.”

Those who knew Drum from his years in Sequim said he was the kind of person who wrote poetry and helped neighbors learn how to send e-mails. Friends said Drum liked being a mentor to young people, including two teenage boys who Drum learned had been molested by Jerry Ray, one of the men Drum would eventually kill. Drum said he knew the boys from the time they were young, and took them fishing when they were teenagers.

While he was a student at a local community college, Drum started a boxing team and, when he left the school, he coached youth boxers in the area. “I got a vibe from him that he had had some challenges in his life and he wanted to be a part of something that kids in our community who had had a rough life, like his perhaps, could have something to work on that was drug free and alcohol free,” Point Peninsula College athletics director Rick Ross said.

Drum spent much of his early life in and out of jail, mostly for drug-related offenses. When he was released for the last time in 2009, he seemed to be making an honest effort at starting anew. A stint at a homeless shelter led to a brief dish washing job and, then, a job at Nash’s Organic Grocery as a farm laborer. Drum worked there for three years while trying his hand bottling water from Forks to sell to Twilight fans and creating an uncommissioned logo for the Seattle Seahawks. Although his ventures were commercially unsuccessful, a local paper profiled him in 2011 as an inspiring example of an ex-felon getting back on his feet. He was laid off from his farm job not long after, but seemed to be holding things together.

Drum had become friends with Leslie Blanton (née Sheriff), a thick woman with dark hair, in the early 2000s. They were both involved in the drug scene of Port Angeles and became closer after spending some time in rehab together. Leslie Blanton and her boyfriend Gary Blanton Jr., a lanky young man who had been in and out of prison after some violent encounters, both pled guilty to kidnapping. They allegedly forced a girl into a car, kept her in an apartment against her will and hit her in the head with their hands and a frying pan. Gary Blanton was released first and, when Leslie Blanton was released a couple years later, they married.

The pair had two children together: Gary III, who was born in 2009, and Skylar, who was born in 2010. Blanton, Leslie says, was a dedicated father, bringing her meals when she was pregnant and reading to her stomach so the babies would get to know his voice. As a husband, he helped her reform her life.

Yet something about Gary Blanton bothered Drum, who kept in touch with the couple and came to dinner occasionally, bringing groceries from the farm where he worked. When he was 17, Blanton had pled guilty to raping a 17-year-old deaf/mute girl. Leslie didn’t mind what had happened: Her husband had come clean with her early in their relationship. (She would later say in court that Gary had been caught having sex with the girl in public, while his mother said he was set up by the girl and charged with statutory rape. Because both Gary Blanton and the girl were minors, details of the case are sealed.) But Drum withdrew from them slightly after he found out.

In the summer of 2011, then-17-month-old Skylar was diagnosed with a spiral fracture in his arm, a type of break that doctors said would have required relatively great force unless he had a bone disease, which he did not. The alternative was that someone might have seized the baby forcefully by his arm while he was lying down. Doctors also discovered another, 2-week-old fracture on Skylar’s thighbone consistent with someone roughly grabbing him by the arm and forcing him to kneel. In an email to a detective, the doctor wrote, “In summary, Skylar is the victim of child abuse, and at least the second injury, the upper arm fracture, occurred at the hands of his father.”

The family contended that Gary hadn’t hurt the baby. But Blanton was arrested, and released on bail on the condition that he stay away from his children.

In May, Drum visited Blanton at Mandi Smith’s residence, where he had been staying since he could no longer live at home. Drum noticed Blanton “throwing his weight around,” eating Smith’s food without asking, and saying things Drum found disrespectful. Blanton also hadn’t packed up his belongings despite being asked to leave. Drum asked Blanton about the situation, but was told to butt out. At that point, Drum recalls jumping up and punching Blanton in the face and, as Smith later told police, the two started brawling. She called Leslie Blanton at work in hopes that she could help but, by the time she showed up, the two men had calmed down.

Afterward, Drum did something unusual. He asked Gary Blanton if he’d like to stay with him in the cottage he rented in Sequim for a while. Blanton accepted. Soon, he moved in, bringing his dog with him.

Even though they were living apart, Leslie said she and her husband still spoke on the phone daily. She remembered hearing him and Drum joke together while they made dinner. She later remarked that they seemed like old buddies. Though she noticed Drum had barely been at home since Gary had moved in, and saw him uncharacteristically driving a new, red Chevrolet Impala in place of his usual older car, nothing seemed to be horribly amiss.

The accommodation seemed like a generous offer.

In fact, it was the first step in the plan Drum had been contemplating for years. Only later would Drum admit that the apparent generosity was a ruse. He stole a gun, planned an escape route and started gathering the names and addresses of other sex offenders in the area. “I invited him to move in with me rent free as a way to get him to a secure location to execute him,” Drum would later write from prison. “He took the bait.” The red Impala had been rented as a getaway vehicle.

On the night of June 2, 2012, Gary Blanton was playing World of Warcraft on his desktop computer. Blanton’s dog sat nearby while he fought monsters and embarked on quests in his gray plaid pajama bottoms.

Though Drum had been planning for this night for weeks, he still spent most of the morning scrambling to get food and camping supplies together. He was always running late.

While Blanton was immersed in his game, Drum slipped out of the house and cut the power. Blanton was wearing a headset that let him speak with other players and Drum didn’t want anyone online to hear what was about to happen. Calming himself, Drum pulled out a 9 mm pistol and charged inside. He hadn’t thought about how hard it would be to hit Blanton in the dark and emptied the first magazine wildly into the blackness before realizing he’d need another. He dashed to get an extra from his car and to nab a flashlight. When he re-entered, Blanton, riddled with bullets, was on his cell phone. “Help, 9-1-1 I’m being shot,” Blanton managed to say before the line went dead. Drum shone the light on Blanton’s head and kept shooting.

Afterward, Drum led Blanton’s dog, scared and splattered with a bit of Blanton’s blood but otherwise unscathed, into another room before placing a letter titled “Declarations” and a lollipop with a scorpion inside near Blanton’s body. The end of his note read: “When I was younger I was at a pet shop. I saw these three scorpions in [an] aquarium. One was a pregnant female and two were males. As I approached, the female tucked into a protective ball. The two males got in front of her in full battle ready posture; tails up, claws out and open. Being young and curious I played a game and used my hands to circle the aquarium in different directions. Each male picked a hand and moved with it, never leaving her side and staying between the hand and her. This spirit always impressed me.” It was signed with his name.

Drum grabbed a backpack stuffed with a thumb drive, camouflage clothes, a map, supplies for living on the run, and a plastic bag full of pot. Then, he left. He carried a list of 60 names and addresses of sex offenders. Drum picked those who had been charged with rape or other serious crimes. He didn’t want to target someone who was on the list for peeing in public or another minor offense. They lived in Forks, Sequim, Quilcene—all towns on the Peninsula. They were all in his sights, but first Drum had someone particular in mind.

Jerry Ray (Clallam County Sheriff's Office)

It was around sunrise when Drum came to the home of his next target. Jerry Ray, a tall 57-year-old man with a graying mustache and glasses, lived with and cared for his elderly father, Paul. Jerry Ray was born in Mississippi, but spent much of his life in California, including a stint in the Army in Fort Ord in the mid-1970s. He had had two marriages, one of which ended in divorce and the other in separation, and had three children. Of his son, Paul Ray would later say, “Jerry wasn’t no angel.”

In 2002, Jerry Ray was found guilty of having stripped naked, carrying the 7 and 4-year-old grandchildren of his friends (the boys Drum said he walked across the street and took on fishing trips) into a bedroom, and molesting them. Jerry Ray later told police he was drunk and barely remembered the evening, but admitted that he had acted on a strange urge. He served four years of jail time and underwent sex offender therapy as well as rehab for alcoholism, although he struggled with his addiction until his death.

After his release from prison, a back injury prevented Jerry Ray from working and so he spent his time shopping for groceries, taking his father to doctor’s appointments, and keeping busy around their house with their three Pekingese dogs, black Persian cat, and gray and white parakeet named Tweety. He also took care of his mother until she died of Alzheimer’s.

Drum had been waiting for years for the moment when he would get revenge on this man who molested the children he knew. He had had plans to come to Jerry Ray’s home and stab him on New Year’s Eve before his arrest in 2005 for burglary. “I am close friends with the family and what I did was long overdue,” he would write later, adding that they had no idea that he was planning to hurt Ray. But, now, on the porch of the Ray home, Drum hesitated. He had heard that Jerry Ray was ex-military and it wasn’t uncommon for people in this rural area to have guns. He tried knocking, hoping Jerry Ray would answer the door so Drum could shoot him and make a quick escape. Nobody answered. Leaving his rental car in the Rays’ driveway, Drum went for a walk to calm his nerves.

While many people assume sex offenders are incurable, Justice Department statistics show that the overall recidivism rates for sex offenders, including pedophiles, are actually lower than those for other violent crimes. Still, sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime, meaning that the stereotypes we have about them being shadowy characters who continue hurting others sometimes play out as expected. These are the moments that burn in our minds.

Two major cases surfaced in the first half of March of this year alone. In the first, an Indiana man convicted of multiple violent felonies, including rape, strangled and raped a 17-year-old girl in her apartment. Not long after, a sex offender jailed in California for failing to register (he had been convicted for molesting a minor) was released because of overcrowding. Three days later, he raped and killed his own grandmother.

In fact, what spurred much of the sex offender registration reform was a crime similar to these—the 1994 murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Megan, who had light brown hair and round cheeks, was lured to a male neighbor’s house with a promise that she could see his new puppy. Once she was in his grasp, the neighbor raped Megan and strangled her with a belt. He placed her body into a wooden trunk, assaulting her corpse once more as he did so, before dumping her in a local park. The next day, this man confessed what he had done. He had two previous convictions for sexually assaulting little girls, but had spent less than seven years total in prison. Today, the federal online sex offender registration requirement is often referred to as Megan’s Law.

These cases are shocking for anyone but, for someone who was sexually abused as a child, hearing about these stories can trigger serious, psychological reactions. “It is very common that hearing about a child being victimized or hearing about a molester living in the neighborhood would trigger a lot of the old feelings and perhaps memories about what happened to the victim,” said Dr. Carolyn Knight, professor of social work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and the author of Working with Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma. Some who have experienced abuse in childhood, particularly men, are prone to turning these emotions outward, sometimes violently. “Physically targeting child molesters is probably very, very rare and unusual,” Knight said. “But the dynamic is not uncommon.”

Drum wandered outside until dawn, collecting his thoughts before he walked back to the Ray home. Drum had read that people were in their deepest sleep then, and figured it would be the easiest time to attack. On the front porch for the second time, Drum slammed the front door in and charged through the living room, past Tweety screeching madly in his cage, down the hall decorated with family photos to meet Jerry Ray, who had emerged from his room because of the commotion.

“What’s going on?” Jerry Ray said. Drum fired his pistol and hit Ray in the stomach. Ray stumbled back and tried to dash back into his room and toward the dresser. Whether he was trying to get to a gun or make it to his bedroom window, he couldn’t escape in time. Bang, Drum hit him in the back. Ray dropped to the floor. Bang, Drum hit him again. The only sound Jerry Ray made as he crumbled to the ground was a short, “Ahh.”

Paul Ray was asleep in a nearby room when his son was shot. He would have gotten up, he said, but he thought the noise was just the sound of the dogs playing in the hall and slamming into his door, which they often did.

Drum left a note and lollipop identical to the one by Blanton’s body in the family’s mailbox.

After killing Jerry Ray, Drum ditched his rental car in the woods and took to his route by foot. He hitched a ride with a trucker heading toward Blue Mountain Road, which begins at Highway 101 and winds up toward the Olympic Mountain range. There are few homes along this route and Drum hoped to make it to a cleared trail under a strip of power lines that would take him to Quilecene, where his next target lived.

The intersection of Rte. 101 and Blue Mountain Road, looking toward the Olympic Mountains (Google Street View)

Little did Drum know, Paul Ray had found his son and contacted the police. Checkpoints had been deployed along a number of streets, including Blue Mountain Road, to ask drivers if they had seen a suspicious person. When Drum saw patrol ahead, he told the driver to pull over and bolted into the forest. It was that driver who tipped off the police that Drum was in their midst.

Soon, about 65 cops and Border Patrol officers were deployed for the manhunt.

The plan was to flush Drum out of the woods by boxing him in and giving him two choices: flee to the mountains where there were no roads to travel by and where he couldn’t hurt anyone, or fall into their grasp.

Drum tried to stay hidden, but a homeowner saw him pass by and notified the police. A half hour later, a Border Patrol agent spotted Drum near a driveway. A small group of cops chased and tackled him.

Later, Drum admitted that his plan had been to live in the wild and continue attacking sex offenders as long as he could manage. “I was going to have no communication with the grid—no informants to worry about and nothing to trace to a network,” he wrote in a letter. “For food, I intended on hitting the farm fields [where I had worked] at night. Spring and summer is the easiest time for such a life. I knew I could survive early fall. Late fall and winter, if still free, I would have holed up in a secluded abandoned house.”

As the cops led Drum toward the squad cars on Blue Mountain Road, Drum turned to them and commended them on a job well done. He didn’t think they’d catch him so quickly. Clallam County Sergeant Nick Turner said Drum walked with a swagger, as if he expected to be caught. As if he was proud of what he’d done. Yet, when Drum was taken down to the station, he said killing was not like he had expected, adding that it doesn’t happen easily like it does on television.

Although Drum initially asked to represent himself in court, he ultimately decided to plead guilty and forego a trial. He said he came to the realization that it would be a waste of tax dollars.

Drum's arrest in Port Angeles, Washington, on June 3, 2012 (Clallam County Sheriff's Office)

Prosecutor Kelly considered trying Drum for the death penalty, but changed her mind. When later asked why, Kelly said there were two factors. For one, he had unusual support both in the county and online. She doubted that she could convince 12 jurors to give Drum a death sentence. Sex offenders are not the easiest to empathize with, even if they’ve been murdered in cold blood. The other factor was Drum’s history of drug abuse. The immediate effects of toluene are depressant or excitatory, but the long-term effects include paranoid psychosis, hallucinations and damage to the brain. Drum’s history of toluene abuse might have impacted his decision-making skills, Kelly said. And, although he claimed he was clean and only had a single beer on the night of the murders, blood work showed Drum had toluene in his system, which meant that he was using within a couple weeks of the crimes.

Drum’s childhood in Port Angeles and, briefly, in Northern California was far from idyllic. His parents, both drug addicts, had him about one year after their two other sons were put into foster care, and divorced soon thereafter. His father, violent and only sporadically mentally present due to his drug and alcohol use, remarried. As a kid, Drum remembers stealing his father’s toluene—a solvent that Drum’s mother had abused while Drum was in utero—sparking an addiction that he would struggle with throughout the rest of his life.

Drum learned quickly that adults, particularly men, could not be trusted. His brother, Isaac, told police that his father was volatile, but Drum later revealed more about the violence in the household. He recalls his father spitting tobacco in his face for doing something wrong, and also strangling him unconscious in front of friends. He remembers what it was like to have adults watch as he writhed on the floor, doing nothing to save him. The memories of seeing the sexual abuse are hazy, but Drum can still recall the night when he was 6 years old and walked into the living room. He remembers that his father was sitting on the couch in a night robe. And he remembers seeing a teenage girl, dressed in a long nightgown, straddling his father and, even then, knowing what he was seeing was wrong. Drum’s father was later convicted of statutory rape.

And later, after the trial and the media deluge, Drum revealed a long-kept secret during a phone interview.

Drum spent time in the care of other family members and, when he was 10 or 11, was staying with one of his uncles. Drum decided to go for a walk around town by himself. He was coming of age and was enjoying the freedom to do things independently. But, while he was out, a man in his 30s saw him and asked if Drum would like to go drinking. When Drum accepted, the man went to a nearby liquor store and bought two big bottles of whiskey.

The pair went into the woods and, by the time things started to get out of hand, Drum was too drunk to run away or even really know what was happening. The man forced Drum to perform oral sex and then forced oral sex on him. Drum didn’t know where the man went afterward, only that he left. He managed to find his way out of the woods and to the bus line that would take him near his uncle’s home. Drunk and unable to walk, he crawled on hands and knees toward the home. Someone in a car saw him and took him the rest of the way.

Drum never spoke of what happened that day. He told a few close friends that he had been molested as a child, but nothing more. After the assault, Drum became very protective of others, mostly women and children, almost to a fault. Once, when Drum was a teenager, a girl from out of town started talking smack about Port Angeles at a party. When the other partygoers threw beer cans at her, Drum pulled out a knife and threatened everyone there.

Through all the times Drum struggled with addiction and was apprehended by the law, he doesn’t remember anyone asking him much about why he found it so difficult to hold down a normal life. No one in his family talked about what his father did to that young woman and no one pushed Drum to acknowledge his molestation—his family never suspected it. Even if his family had addressed these problems, he doubts he would have talked to them about it much.

“I stonewalled people all the time growing up,” Drum said. “I’m a private person…most of my girlfriends would never even know about my dad.”

He tried to ignore most of what he had seen and experienced, and many people around him attributed his criminal behavior to his drug use. The courts recommended that he to go through some addiction treatment, but never followed up on it. He was never forced to have a psychiatric evaluation or to go to therapy. No one helped him confront his past. This lack of support is incredibly common. “I can count on my one hand the number of times I’ve worked with clients where the families have been supportive of them,” Knight said. “The typical way is to deny, deny, deny.”

Of course, most people who are sexually abused as children don’t go on to kill pedophiles, and many are not violent. But Drum—with his history of sexual abuse, lack of counseling, and protective nature—was a ticking time bomb.

Knight has had clients who, as adults, fantasize about killing the person who sexually assaulted them. She even had a client who went to his perpetrator’s home with murderous intentions. (“Luckily the perpetrator didn't answer the door,” she said. “I think if he had, he probably would have shot him.”) But, often, it’s not the assailants that victims are most angry with—it’s those who stood by and did nothing.

Drum’s actions, in many ways, were making up for the inactions of others, be it those who watched him struggle as his father abused him or those who never caught his molester and brought him to justice. “In a way, he’s over identified with the children,” Knight said of Jerry Ray’s victims that Drum knew and of the others he wanted to protect, “and stepping in where nobody stepped in for him.”

Some called Drum a hero. But if anyone needed a hero to step in and save him, it was Drum himself.

In the early 2000s, both of Drum’s parents died from complications from toluene abuse. Just a couple of years later, Drum heard about the sexually motivated murder of a girl named Melissa Carter in Port Angeles. Her decomposing body was found in a hollow near a popular trail the day after Christmas in 2004. Police believed she was raped and then strangled to death. It was at that moment that Drum decided he was going to kill sex offenders.  Not long after, having been arrested and convicted of burglary, Drum met Michael Anthony Mullen. In the summer of 2005, Mullen, dressed in a blue jumpsuit and FBI hat, went to the Bellingham home of three convicted child molesters. He said he was there to warn them of a vigilante who was preying on sex offenders. Accustomed to routine check-ins from police, the men were not suspicious. Mullen chatted them up and bought a six-pack of beer so they could all drink and smoke Camels on the patio together. Around 9 p.m., one of the offenders left for work. When he returned later in the evening, he discovered that his two housemates had been shot and killed. Mullen later said that the man who left showed remorse for his crimes, while the other two did not. About a week after the murders, Mullen turned himself in.

 “In time, we began formulating a plan to initiate upon my release,” Drum wrote. “I was going to smuggle poisons to Mr. Mullen so he could silently eliminate sex offenders in prison. I began talking to other prisoners about how to obtain cyanide, how to produce ricin, and how to obtain or produce nicotine sulfate.”

Mullen died—the official cause of death listed as pneumonia, despite investigators’ original suspicions of  suicide—before the two could act on their plan. But Drum felt empowered about his decision to kill sex offenders and soon he was released from jail.

When I asked Drum about his motivations, he insisted that what he did was for the betterment of the community. He said his decision to kill Blanton was as much about the pending child abuse case as it was about his sex offender status. He didn’t think of himself as much different than a soldier killing insurgents abroad for a cause. “I believe my experiences with sex offenders, my father and abuse gave me firsthand empathy for the issue, but my actions were not about me,” he wrote to me in a letter. “They were about my community. I suffered many failures and my overall view of things was one of hopelessness. I took that hopelessness and in turn threw myself away to a purpose. I gave myself to something bigger than myself.”

But, as we spoke on the phone, I listened to Drum describe his father and then Blanton. The similarities were striking between them—two men accused of crimes involving young women who had histories of violence and child abuse. I asked Drum if he saw aspects of his father in Blanton.

“Yes,” he said. “I definitely see aspects of him in Gary.”

About a week after his sentencing, Drum stabbed a fellow inmate with a sharpened, plastic utensil. The 19-year-old sex offender, who survived the attack, was serving time for failing to register. Drum wouldn’t know until later that his victim had committed his sex offense when he was just 13 years old. Drum was soon moved to solitary. When he was released into the general population months later, he fashioned a shiv from a toothbrush and a razor blade and tried to kill another sex offender in the gymnasium. Prison officers caught him before he was able to seriously harm the man, who Drum said had raped a male friend from Port Angeles. And, with that, he was back in solitary indefinitely.

Six months after the murders, the cottage in Sequim that Drum and Gary Blanton briefly shared was empty. Inside, the house was torn apart, prepared for remodeling or demolition. The front yard was overgrown with weeds and thin stubs of grass. The only signs of what happened that summer were the bits of red police tape stuck to the padlocks on the front and side doors.

Next door, a kayak rental store continued to do business. Across the street, small birds flitted around a feeder. Workers down the road at Nash’s Organic Grocery tended to the fields, as Drum once did.

Drum is not happy to be in prison, but he seems to feel at peace with his choices. He has heard of some murderers, like Gary Ridgway the Green River Killer, who get piles of fan mail, but he only receives about one letter a week, and it is never from a fan. He works out and reads a lot. He has begun collecting information about alternative sex offender sentencing that allows offenders to be released faster if they undergo treatment—which he believes helped knock off a significant portion of the time Jerry Ray spent in prison—in hopes that he can find someone to advocate against it on the outside. Anytime he leaves his cell, his legs and arms are shackled.

He doesn’t think much about his past, although he admits that the man who assaulted him when he was a boy would have made the hit list he carried with him as he killed Blanton and Ray. But Drum’s feelings about his father are a bit more complicated. If he hadn’t been his father, he would have certainly made the list, but Drum isn’t particularly comfortable with the idea of patricide.

What if someone else had killed his father? Drum doesn’t hesitate. “I think he did things that deserved—that merited—death,” he says. “I think he deserved that. I think somebody should have.”

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Lexi Pandell is a writer based in Oakland, California.

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