Fast-forward more than 13 years to March 8, 2004.

Goudeau had served that much time in prison when he faced a state parole board considering his release.

He had been a fine inmate, in that his disciplinary record was scant, and he had completed several self-help programs.

Preschool aide Tina Washington's body was found December 12, 2005, behind a warehouse at 40th Street and Southern Avenue.
Paul Rubin
Preschool aide Tina Washington's body was found December 12, 2005, behind a warehouse at 40th Street and Southern Avenue.
Kentucky con James Mullins falsely confessed to murdering one of Goudeau's early victims.
Kentucky con James Mullins falsely confessed to murdering one of Goudeau's early victims.

Goudeau had married Wendy during his incarceration, and she remained as devoted as a lapdog to the proposition that he could do no wrong.

Speaking first on behalf of Goudeau at the hearing was Donna Hamm, a longtime prison activist and onetime judge who, too, had married a man who had been released from prison a few years earlier on a first-degree murder conviction.

"When you look at Mark on paper," Hamm said, "you think, 'Oh, my God, this is terrible stuff,' and it is. He does admit to the assault. [But] there wasn't a sexual offense."

Hamm went on to say Goudeau had done "an exemplary job of working on his problems."

For his part, Goudeau predictably blamed drugs and booze for his legal troubles.

"This offense happened 14 years ago," he told the board, not specifying which one he was talking about — the assault of Darlene or holding up the Fry's employees. "I was out of control, [but] I never wanted to hurt a soul. [Now] I think before I act."

Wife Wendy Carr got her say.

Weeping, she told the board, "I can vouch that if you put Mark on parole, you will never see him again — never!"

Carr turned out to be right about that, but for all the wrong reasons.

The five-person panel asked few questions of Goudeau before voting 4-1 to approve his release.

Less than a year and a half later, Goudeau murdered 19-year-old Georgia Thompson near Mill Avenue in Tempe, his first known homicide victim.

It came a few weeks after he sexually assaulted a pair of junior-high-age girls behind a church near Baseline Road as they walked home from a pool party.

Though Goudeau didn't have a "name" yet, the Baseline Rapist/Killer had been born.

Phoenix homicide detectives could not have known, in the early-evening hours of December 12, 2005, that they were dealing with a budding serial killer.

All homicides are inherently eerie, but the murder of Tina Washington on a chilly night behind a warehouse at 40th Street and Southern Avenue caused Detective Alex Femenia to mutter something at the scene.

"I've got a weird feeling about this one," he said. (I was there, reporting a series of stories on a Phoenix Police Department homicide squad, titled "Murder City.")

A woman had been shot twice in the head at close range under amber security lighting that cast dancing shadows as the wind picked up.

The body was splayed on its back, and a haunting river of blood was coagulating on a secluded concrete driveway.

The woman didn't have a purse or any identification, but a shopping bag with a holiday motif was near the body. Police learned later that the victim had gotten the bag at a "secret Santa" party across the street at the little preschool where she worked.

Patrick Kotecki, the alert supervisor who was Detective Femenia's sergeant at the time, noted that the woman's bra was visible and her pants were pulled down a bit.

Kotecki recalled that a memo recently had circulated at police headquarters about a man sexually assaulting and (sometimes) robbing women near Baseline Road.

He wondered, along with homicide unit Lieutenant Benny Pina, whether any connection might exist between this murder and the other cases.

Police had an eyewitness, of sorts.

Pete Ochoa had escaped with his own life by a whisker — more precisely, a misfired handgun, the same weapon that the woman in the VW would be spared from months later.

Femenia interviewed Ochoa that night in the warehouse where the man operated a catering business. Ochoa clearly was dazed and trembling at times, though he was able to converse with the detective.

He told of hearing two bangs just outside the back door, figuring that some neighbor kids were playing football in the driveway, as they had before. He unlocked the oversize metal door and stepped out to shoo them away when he saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt crouching over a motionless body.

The man immediately rose to his feet, pointed a handgun at Ochoa, and fired once from a distance of about 10 feet. But the gun failed to discharge.

Ochoa slipped back into the warehouse and latched the big door.

A moment or two later, he told Femenia, he saw the door handle turn. The man was trying to get inside, but the lock held.

Ochoa said he wished he could be of more help in identifying the assailant.

Years later, at Goudeau's murder trial, Ochoa compellingly identified the defendant from the witness stand.

"I will never forget those eyes, never," he said of Goudeau.

But the overall Baseline Killer case, and this December 2005 murder, in particular, didn't hinge on the typically shaky eyewitness testimony of a traumatized victim.

More relevant were the two expended .38-caliber shell casings found near the body and one unspent bullet, the one meant for Pete Ochoa.

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