Blood-feast in Berkeley update


Over a year ago, we reported on a horrific crime in Berkeley, California, in which an elderly woman walking by park in my neighborhood was attacked from behind with a knife, her throat slit to the bone, and left to die with her husband standing beside her. Fortunately, the victim recovered, and the assailant and her accomplice were eventually caught.

But the wheels of justice have been grinding very slowly. The alleged assailant, Marilyn Webster, was a juvenille at the time. She has been found to be severely mentally impaired, and authorities have not been able to find a facility adequate to house her.

The alleged accomplice, Hamaseh Kianfar, was a county—employed mental health worker who had worked with Webster in an official capacity. Following the attack, she drove Webster from the scene, allegedly lied to police about the crime, and now her attorney expresses herself to be "incredulous" that her client is to stand trial.

Kristin Bender of the Oakland Tribune has been providing the best coverage of the bizarrae and shocking case. Here is her account:

As the woman laid on the street "bleeding profusely," Kianfar drove the girl away, bought her clothing to wear following the assault and did not notify police about the incident for roughly 15 hours, said prosecutor Carrie Panetta. The woman recovered from her wounds.

Panetta said Kianfar also did not tell police where the girl was staying and later "warned" relatives there was a warrant out for the teen's arrest.

"She knew very well where the juvenile was," Panetta said. "She gave statements to police, but they were untruthful statements."

Kianfar met Webster while the teenager was serving a sentence in Juvenile Hall. Kianfar's supporters have said the mental health worker befriended the girl in an effort to help her.

Judge Jon Rolefson ordered Kianfar to return to court May 18 to begin routine court proceedings for the trial. She remains free on $15,000 bail.

Several aspects of the case remain mysterious. In the early aftermath, there were reports of a ritualistic aspect the crime, supposedly involving an occult practice called "blood—feasting." Kianfar's precise relationship to the mentally—impaired young woman has also not been detailed for the public.

Kianfar is entitled to a fair trial with the presumption of innocence. But her alleged behavior disturbs me deeply, as does her attorney's apparent belief that one can leave a victim to die, spirit away the alleged perpetrator, buy clothing to disguise the evidence and lie to police, all without being charged.

Thomas Lifson   5 06 06