She was going to stay late to play an arcade game.
In the early hours of May 27, 1995, Tracey Brazzel was in Everett at Kodiak Ron’s Pub. The 22 year old had reason to celebrate: she’d gotten back together with her ex-boyfriend and just two days prior she’d walked out on her hair stylist job at Mill Creek Great Clips. Things were happening. Life was changing. With a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and newly bleached blonde hair, she was ready for a night out with friends (Charley Project). When they left for the night, Tracey said she would leave after playing a car video game. It would be the last time she was ever seen.
Days went by and Tracey’s mother began to worry. She never missed their daily time together. Three days after her disappearance, Tracey’s white 1993 Ford Probe was discovered half a block away from her North Lynnwood Keeler Corner Apartment (Dart). The passenger side window had been smashed in but there was no glass at the scene. The car had also racked up an unexplained 25 miles since Tracey had last refueled (Charley’s Project.) She always reset her odometer after filling up (McNerthney.) And while these indicators pointed towards automotive theft, additional evidence implied a far more sinister act had occurred. A single drop of blood trailed down her passenger door (Charley’s Project.) Officers combed the surrounding area without luck. Tracey had vanished.
At 1:00 in the morning on July 30th, just a few months after Tracey vanished, 26 year old Patricia “Patti” Berry had a flat tire. She had just finished her shift as a topless dancer at Honey’s off of Highway 99 and wanted to get home to her two year old daughter, Jessica (Green). A club patron helped her inflate the tire and Patti drove off in search of the nearest air-pump. She never got home.
Patti was reported missing the next day and on August 1st, her Honda Prelude was found behind a convenience store in downtown Everett. A car-wash with an air pump was just up the road. Like Tracey’s car, the passenger side window was smashed in but unlike Tracey’s, there was significantly more blood in and on the vehicle, particularly the steering wheel (Green.) Detectives took a sample, but forensic technology was limited at the time.
A week passed. On August 8th, behind Everett Mall, a group of apartment children were playing in nearby woods. They discovered her body nude from the waist down. The autopsy revealed she died from as many as 18 stab wounds (North.) Forensic analysis confirmed the blood in Patti’s vehicle belonged to her (Dart.)
From the beginning, detectives believed the murders were connected. They conducted numerous searches, took DNA samples from both vehicles, and interviewed a few persons of interest. In the end, however, each lead came up dry and the cases went cold. When the cold case unit compiled a deck of playing cards of cases (read about the deck here), both women were included.
In 2004, almost ten years after the murders occurred, the cold case unit reopened Patti’s case. Detective Jim Scharf submitted the steering wheel in Patti’s car to Washington State Crime Lab for analysis using updated forensic techniques unavailable in 1995. The analyses turned the case around. The blood stain on the steering wheel didn’t just belong to Patti: there was an unknown male contributor.
“Before that,” stated Detective Scarf, “this was one of a number of cold cases that I didn’t think had much of a chance of getting resolved.”
Unfortunately, without any leads to compare the sample, the cold case unit had to file the case yet again. The DNA sample was entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Index Systems) until a match could be made (North and Hefley.)
That match came four years later, in August 2008, when the State Crime Lab identified convicted felon, Danny Ross Giles as the contributor. He was incarcerated at Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island at the time for indecent exposure with sexual intent (McNerthney). Back in 2005, he had flashed a UW sorority student on Greek Row during Rush Week and his DNA was input into CODIS as a part of his conviction (Green). Further analysis of blood found in the cuff of Patti’s jeans and on the driver’s side headrest also pointed to Giles. Yet another hit came in 2010 to the single drop of blood found on Tracey’s Ford Probe.
Giles was familiar with the criminal system. He was only seventeen years old when he committed second-degree rape for assaulting a young woman in a Lynnwood apartment tanning bed. The state’s petition for civil confinement indicated that throughout all of Giles’ prison terms, he refused to be interviewed by a psychologists or participate in sexual-deviancy treatment. A psychologist, who evaluated Giles based on interviews with those who knew him and court records, wrote that Giles is highly psychopathic and posed a severe threat to women (Green). He took pleasure in threatening his ex-fiance with a knife and had an “identification in fantasy with Gary Ridgeway.” According to Giles’ cellmate, Giles admired the serial killer for the number of murders he committed and stated that Ridgeway’s missing victims, as well as other victims of sexual assault and homicide, “did not deserve to be found” ( McNerthney.)
During an eight month period in 1995, Giles was on the run for second-degree theft (Green.) Both Tracey and Patti’s murders occurred during this stretch. When approached by Scharf and another detectives in 2011, Giles lied about his past jobs and places he spent time outside of work. Though he tried to distance himself from the investigation, he knew a fair amount about the cases including that Scarf was the lead detective (North and Hefley.)
Detectives believe that Giles encountered Tracey at Kodiak Ron’s pub, which he was known to frequent. She likely brought him back to her apartment to sell meth. Giles most likely encountered Patti while she was searching for an air-pump. The nearest gas station -which was in the same strip mall as Kodiak Ron’s- had a broken air pump and the car wash her car was found behind would have been the next option. Giles is believed to have used the cars of both women to dump their bodies (Green).
Giles was found guilty of Patti’s murder on October 20th, 2014, almost twenty years after her murder. The jury listened to three weeks of testimony and deliberated for four days before handing down the verdict (North and Hefley) and Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss sentenced Giles to 47.5 years in prison (North.) Giles was also charged with Tracey’s murder, but they were dropped following his conviction of Patti’s murder. Tracey is still missing. Without a body or sufficient evidence to confirm she is deceased, prosecutors cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt (Seattle Times Staff.)
Call the toll free line at 1-800-222-TIPS or the Sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845 if you have any information about the location of Tracey’s remains.
Dart, L. (19 May 2011). Major Break in 2 South Everett Cold Case Murders: Patti Berry and Tracey Brazzel. My Everett News. Accessed July 1, 2019 from https://myeverettnews.com/2011/05/19/major-break-in-2-south-everett-cold-case-murders-patti-berry-and-tracey-brazzel/
Green, S.J. and Bath, G. contr. (16 Nov. 2012.) Sex Offender Charged in 2 Everett killings in 1995. The Seattle Times. Accessed July 1, 2019 from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/sex-offender-charged-in-2-everett-killings-from-1995/
Green, S. J. (16 Nov. 2012). Sex Offender Charged in 2 Everett Killings from 1995. The Seattle Times. Accessed July 1, 2019 from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/sex-offender-charged-in-2-everett-killings-from-1995/
McNerthney, C. (27 July 2011.) Rapist, murder suspect near release may be confined. Seattle PI. Hearst Seattle Media, LLC. Accessed July 1, 2019 from https://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Prosecutor-wants-rapist-murder-suspect-confined-1616328.php#item-85307-tbla-3
North, S. and Hefley, D. (21 Oct. 2014). Killer of Arlington woman found guilty 19 years later. The Arlington Times. Accessed July 1, 2019 from http://www.arlingtontimes.com/news/killer-of-arlington-woman-found-guilty-19-years-later/
North, S. (6 Nov. 2014.) Killer gets 47.5 years in ‘savage’ murder of ‘defenseless mother’ from Arlington. The Arlington Times. Accessed July 1, 2019 from http://www.arlingtontimes.com/news/killer-gets-47-5-years-in-savage-murder-of-defenseless-mother-from-arlington/
Seattle Times Staff. (6 May 2017.) Washington Supreme Court won’t review 1995 murder of Everett mother. Seattle Times. Accessed July 1, 2019 from https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-supreme-court-wont-review-1995-murder-of-everett-mother/
Tracey Elizabeth Brazzel. (Dec. 2018). The Charley Project. Accessed July 1, 2019 from http://charleyproject.org/case/tracey-elizabeth-brazzel