A man who houses sex offenders in Everett says he is "getting out of the business" after receiving threats, including one sent to the Herald in Everett on Friday. A man who houses sex offenders in rental properties in Everett says he is "getting out of the business" after receiving threats.
Mike Westford, who owns 11 houses in the Bayside neighborhood and whose business partner recently purchased a neglected mansion in the Riverside neighborhood, said in a letter this week to Everett officials and the state Department of Corrections (DOC) that he and his family had received repeated threats.
He said he would take no new referrals of convicted sex offenders from the DOC and blamed officials with the city and the DOC for not educating the community about the need for sex-offender housing and not coming to his defense.
Westford declined to comment Wednesday but said he would issue a statement Friday.
Westford's business partner, Alex Thole, said he and Westford would continue to rent to their current tenants but would not accept any new placements from the DOC.
"We've been vilified, threatened and had our characters attacked. We're not going to take it anymore," Thole said.
Thole called on the DOC to speak out on the need for sex-offender housing and to defend Westford in the face of attacks.
He said the alternative is for offenders to be released to live in city parks or under bridges.
An e-mailed threat was sent to The Herald of Everett on Friday. It did not name Westford but referred to the housing of sex offenders. It said, "Now would be a good time for someone two [sic] sneak in at night and burn the house down with all the sex offenders in it."
The DOC provided a copy of the letter to The Seattle Times but removed the e-mail identification of the writer.
Thole said the Everett police declined to take a report on the latest threat.
Everett police said Wednesday night they couldn't confirm that they'd been contacted about the threat.
Westford, together with family members and Thole, own 11 houses or apartments in one block of the Bayside neighborhood near downtown where they rent rooms to 48 registered sex offenders.
In all, Westford rents to about 200 sex offenders in 24 houses between Everett and Bellingham, according to property records.
Katrina Lindell, the DOC's field administrator for Northwest Washington, said she is continuing to talk to Westford about his plans.
"Housing sex offenders is important. He's been doing this for us for nine years," she said. ..News Source.. by Lynn Thompson, Times Snohomish County reporter; Times Snohomish County Reporter