Family fights killer's request for early release in horrific triple slaying

Loran Dowell age 37; Robert Pierre age 32; and Linda Burford age 30 were all murdered on June 12, 1980. Smith and Pauley were captured the following day.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

A family is pleading that the convicted murderer of their father, Loran Dowell, remain behind bars, stating that he is too dangerous to be released at his next parole hearing before Washington’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board on Wednesday.

On June 12, 1980, Timothy Pauley and Scott Carl Smith robbed the Barn Door Tavern in SeaTac, Washington and attempted to leave no witnesses, killing two men and one woman. Pauley has spent the past 38 years in prison for the crime and has failed to meet the terms for release at multiple parole hearings. Now the families fear that Pauley, who has been described as a "master manipulator" may be set free.

According to the victim's daughter Kelley Dowell Tarp, her mother Margaret (Maggie) Dowell played a video game with Smith on that fateful night, while Sherri Beckham, who worked at the bar, talked with Pauley during her break.

After the bar closed, Smith and Pauley returned to the tavern. They knocked on the door and called out Loran's name to get him to open the door. Upon opening the door, Smith put a knife to Loran's side and Pauley put a gun to his head.  They forced their way inside and ordered everyone onto the floor face down.  They asked where the money was and Loran told them it was on the bar's counter.

Loran Dowell (Courtesy of the Dowell family)

Smith and Pauley began pulling out all the electrical wires, phone cords, anything they could use to tie everyone up.

Smith then took Loran to the back kitchen area and that would the last time Maggie would see her husband alive. Pauley kept his gun pointed at everyone in the front area. When Smith returned to the front area, he ordered the women to take off all their clothes and forced them into the bathroom. He then tied them up, tightening the cords around their necks, and slicing Maggie down her chest. Pauley and Smith left them there.

After regaining consciousness Maggie was able to loosen the cords around her hands and help Sherri.  They found their clothing in a bathroom and dressed.

Maggie found the body of Linda Burford hanging from the stage and found her husband, as well as Robert Pierre, dead in the kitchen. Maggie and Beckham then ran for help.

Loran Dowell age 37; Robert Pierre age 32; and Linda Burford age 30 were all murdered. Smith and Pauley were captured the following day.

Kelley Tarp, Dowell’s daughter, told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, "They left that night believing that they had killed everybody," but her mother and Sherri survived.

Pauley received three life sentences and has been petitioning for early release. Though he has a clean record in prison, both men had multiple prior convictions and the victims' family members believe that his "…rehabilitation is an act."

Kelley told Hoffman, "We're the ones that served the life sentence, not him."

According to the Dowell family lawyers, "…during Smith's trial Pauley repeatedly refused to give any statement, or assist in the prosecution. He has indicated that he has information that would be helpful in finding the truth, but feels that if he cooperated, he might still end up serving one or more consecutive life terms, and that he might end up in protective custody because of his cooperation."

A letter to his brother on February 9, 2012, described by the lawyers as an insight into how Pauley’s "…mind works and is a truer reflection of the man he is today.  This letter is an example of his arrogance and self-entitlement. Pauley is highly intelligent and has learned what to say and what not to say – he knows how to manipulate his surroundings. The letter contained potentially threatening language involving DOC staff members.

As a result, the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board (ISRB) stated that, "One cannot help but wonder as to the sincerity of his accomplishments in programming."

In 2016, the parole board added 22 years to Pauley’s sentence, which was overturned by an appeals court and changed to seven years retroactive to 2015. Now Pauley might be released this week.

The Dowell family lawyers described recent reports on Pauley that show he "Continues to display an unrealistic view of himself and his achievements and downplays the fact that he murdered three bound people and tortured two others." They listed other concerns, such as that Pauley "Feels 'dehumanized'," and "Displays frustration at being isolated, which shows his inability to cope with anything that upsets him or alters his daily schedule and routine."

Additionally, they said Pauley "Expresses his resentment with the vague nature of what he needs to do to demonstrate rehabilitation to this Board. Again, he demonstrates his inability to cope with anything negative or that doesn’t go his way."

According to the lawyers, Pauley continues to minimize his involvement in the robbery and murders.

Pauley’s attorney submitted a letter to the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board (ISRB) on March 27, 2020, requesting his immediate release due to the COVID-19 pandemic; claiming "cruel and unusual punishment" and a violation of his constitutional rights. The ISRB responded to this letter denying the request as did the Court of Appeals and the Washington State Supreme Court.

According to the family’s lawyers, throughout the process the families did not receive notice of Pauley’s appeals including his COVID appeals from the ISRB or the victim liaison.

"We have to ask ourselves," The Dowell family told Hoffman, "is the ISRB going to ask Pauley his thoughts about Smith’s account of the murders, i.e. not knowing Pauley shot our dad and Bob; Smith denying he told Pauley 'I took care of the women, you know what to do'; Smith indicating that it was Pauley who called out our dad’s name and knew our dad to get him to answer the door; or that Smith was actually a year younger than Pauley? Does any of this even matter to this Board?  We also wonder and ask of ISRB, do any of them care that there are two defendants who claim to be rehabilitated, have changed their ways, but continue to blame the other.  We would like for the ISRB to explain to us how this shows remorse. How does this show that Pauley is rehabilitated?"

"Pauley is a manipulative, cunning individual and has played this Board and the system well.  When you look at everything as a whole, a person who has continuously fought for release for the past ten years (40 years when you look back over everything) and cannot handle the slightest change or disruption to his schedule and lashes out or displays unwarranted anger and frustration is not someone who is rehabilitated."

The family called the process "a joke."

"Our families have been forced to read through hundreds of pages of documents and scrutinize every word in the hope of finding something to support our position that Pauley is not fit for release. This is not something victims and their families should be put through. Having to read and visualize the murder of our father, Robert, and Linda and what these two men did to our mom and Sherri is something my sister and I will never be rid of.  We get to the point where we can push down the pain and loss, but it comes flooding back having to deal with this horrible, unfair, and unjust system that leaves us feeling helpless and revictimized."

Pauley's hearing before the ISRB is scheduled for Wednesday and the Dowells hope that the public will contact the board to urge them to keep Pauley behind bars, not just so that justice is served but also for their personal safety.

The ISRB can be reached at (360) 407-2400 or emailed at: and reference Timothy Robert Pauley; DOC #273053


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