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Sisters residents react to paroled throat-slasher move

Published On: Jan 17 2014 11:59:14 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 18 2014 10:49:52 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent spoke with Sisters residents, victims and parole officials about the early release and planned move of a Boise woman convicted of slashing the throat of a 20-month-old baby.

SISTERS, Ore. -

A small town and an even smaller neighborhood, where you might see more deer than people -- and a horrific case years ago, hundreds of miles away, now connected to Sisters.

"It's disturbing, knowing someone with a history is moving into the neighborhood," Sisters resident Eugene Trahern said Friday.

Another resident in the area just outside of Sisters said she was quite shocked to learn about the past of a future neighbor.

"The nature of the crime, for one thing," Norma Fisher said.
     
Property records show Rae Ann and David Leach own a large  home in rural Sisters.

Neighbors told NewsChannel 21 that they don't really know David Leach. They said he hasn't lived in the neighborhood long.

Neighbors certainly don't know his wife, Rae Ann Leach, as she's been living behind bars in Idaho for almost 15 years.

"Rae Ann attempted to kill (my daughter) by cutting her throat six different times," Boise resident Anne Hickerson said Friday in a phone interview with NewsChannel 21.

Hickerson said she'll never forget July 10th, 1995 -- a nightmare 19 years ago.

Hickerson said her neighbor at the time, Rae Ann Leach, had invited her, her 20-month-old daughter, Mary, and her other two children over to her home for a visit. 

She said Rae Ann had taken Mary inside to give her a treat, and that's when she attacked her young daughter, nearly killing her.

"She lost more than half of her blood," Hickerson said. "It was so horrendous, so heinous."

Leach, who suffers from Schizophrenia and other mental disorders, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was given probation. However, after she violated probation terms, she was sent to jail for 15 years.

Roger Bourney, the Ada County prosecutor on the case, said Thursday that Leach had been denied parole in the past because she was deemed dangerous and had violent thoughts.

But Leach told the parole board in 2012 she had not heard any voices or had any hallucinations since 2006 and was dedicated to taking her medications.

"I'm here. I'm well. I'm safe," she said. "I haven't heard a voice for years. I'm ready to go out to the world and live."

On Thursday, Leach, now 70, was approved for medical parole and will be let of prison early for health reasons.

The Idaho Statesman reported Friday afternoon that Leach will not be released from the Pocatello Woman's Correctional Center for at least a month.

The district attorney on the case, and the victim's family both told NewsChannel 21 that they believe Leach will move into her Sisters home.

Read the newspaper's story here.

"She's been in prison a long time," Idaho Parole and Probation Executive Director Olivia Craven told NewsChannel 21 Friday.  "We have her established with services, and someone is watching her for a while, so that the transition to the community is a little smoother."

But Craven couldn't say whether Leach would be a threat to the community. She said you just never know.

Hickerson said she has a message for the people of Sisters.

"She thought that she'd killed Mary," Hickerson said, recalling how Rae Ann had come out from the house and told her she'd killed her daughter.

"She said it gave her a rush," Hickerson said. "And I think she will absolutely try to get that rush again. I would not stay living next door to her, or her husband."

An ominous warning, but some of the closest future neighbors aren't worried.

"They have to go somewhere," said neighbor Glenn Engweiler.  "And this is a beautiful part of the country, why shouldn't they live here? They have as much right as everyone else."

Still, neighbor Nora Fisher said she'll be watching her back on her daily walks.

"I'll look at the house when I go by," Fisher said.

NewsChannel 21 knocked on the Leaches' door and also left them a phone message, but did not hear back by air time.

Our team also reached out to Deschutes County Parole and Probation officials, but have not heard back as of yet.

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