On August 22, Joe Piano was setting up to open The Hawk’s Nest, a west Seattle sports bar for Seahawks fans.
His daughter helped set up along with other employees. In one of the booths, his grandson played a video game.
The doors were open, but the bar was not.
Then, five men in bulletproof vests strode into The Hawk's Nest and asked for "Arthur." Piano jerked his thumb toward the kitchen, where his cook was setting up.
Then the men shouted: “Arthur Bachelier! Get down, get down!” They drew their guns and chased him out the back door of the kitchen into an alleyway in the Alki neighborhood fronting Puget Sound.
There, more men from the U.S. Marshal’s Service were waiting. Bachelier, a fugitive sex offender who fled charges and a new rape investigation in Phoenix, was arrested at gunpoint.
Piano didn’t know anything about Bachelier’s past. The 33-year-old ex-con had given the owner another name, Arthur Bastiat. He never filled out W-2 forms, never even presented a photo ID.
Piano didn’t know that Bachelier had served two years in prison after he admitted to sexual assaults on a teenage girl over six years. Or that he had tried to open a bar and restaurant called The Monocle in a century-old downtown Phoenix house. Or that, days before the opening, a woman accused him of raping her on the freshly sanded hardwood floor of the place. Or that a Maricopa County judge had issued a warrant for his arrest in March after prosecutors said he cut his GPS tracker off his ankle.
But in early August, Piano was in a crunch. A big festival was coming up and he needed another cook. The man who applied to a Craigslist job ad seemed to know what he was talking about, dressed well, and sounded “legit,” so he took a chance.
It only took a week before Piano realized he had had enough of his new employee after just a week on the job. He was going to fire him that day, the day the U.S. Marshals came from Phoenix to take him back.
Twice already, the cook had asked for cash advances. The second time Piano reluctantly offered to write a check, but the cook said he’d lost has ID and still hadn’t replaced it. Piano thought he was down on his luck, maybe homeless, and decided to cut him a break. Bar and restaurant cooks don’t all have the most stable lives, after all.
But something else about the new cook tugged at Piano. Bachelier was prone to sitting in the bar drinking heavily, staring off to space, or looking at his laptop, while the dirty dishes piled up.
He had a habit of putting his hands down his pants, in the kitchen and the public bar area. “He couldn’t keep his hands off his junk,” Piano said. The cook got a nickname and a running bet how many times he touch himself during a shift.
Then there were the women. Three times in one week, he met with different young, attractive brunettes in the bar, Piano said. He figured the new cook fancied himself a bit of player.
Bachelier sat with one for three hours. Another he kissed. Another had bags and looked like she was off to the airport. Bachelier told Piano he’d met them on dating websites. All three were in their 20s or early 30s, Piano guessed.
The 27-year-old woman who told Phoenix police detectives Bachelier raped her in May 2017 is a brunette. Within a month, as Bachelier faced unrelated legal problems, The Monocle disbanded. It had never sought any key permit to open. In recent weeks, a new owner has sought a liquor license.
In Seattle, Piano remembers how his cook unsettled the staff. One coworker told Piano he seemed weird, like a jailbird. Piano’s daughter said he “creeped her out,” and she decided to look him. She found a Facebook page with very little on it and not much else.
“He did creep her out. He creeped everybody out,” Piano said.
On Sunday, August 19, Piano was about to go home and leave his daughter to close up, but he paused.
“I thought: I’m just going to stay. I’ve got a bad feeling,” he said, explaining he didn’t want to leave his daughter alone with him.
This father knew best.
Bachelier had been on the run since March, and all along, U.S. marshals were hunting him.
On March 18, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pro-Tempore Cindi Nanetti issued a warrant for Bachelier’s arrest. The order did not authorize out-of-state extradition.
Bachelier’s last known address was on Third Street in Tempe, in a neighborhood of low-rise apartments popular with ASU students.
By state law, a registered sex offender must notify the sheriff’s office within 72 hours of changing address. Bachelier did not.
Federal law establishes the Sex Offender Investigations Coordinator within each field office of the U.S. Marshals service. The unit’s job is to investigate and enforce a federal law that prevents registered sex offenders leaving the state without notice. That’s on top of marshals’ regular job of tracking and arresting fugitives.
Local law enforcement officers with the East Valley Task Force referred the case to the special sex offender unit in March, said Christopher Kruse, the senior inspector with Marshals Service in Arizona, who leads that unit.
“The investigation showed that he wasn’t at his last known address,” Kruse said. “People tend to find relatives and friends. We felt he fled out of state.”
In 2016, Bachelier had petitioned the court to move to Oregon, where he once lived in a Portland suburb. Such records, plus criminal case files, social media activity, and interviews with friends, family and coworkers, all help marshals piece together the possible movements of a fugitive.
Bachelier had roots in the Pacific Northwest and in southern California. As Kruse’s team searched for him, his legal problems mounted.
In April, he skipped a court date. Deliberate failure to appear in court is a felony in Arizona, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
He was already accused in court of violating the terms of his probation, and in a separate charge, tampering with his GPS monitor. He had failed to notify authorities that he’d moved, a state felony, or that he’d left the state, a federal felony.
By fleeing when marshals from Phoenix and Seattle turned up at the Hawk’s Nest, Bachelier may face new charges of resisting arrest.
Before he flew to Seattle, Kruse arranged in court to have a $3,600 bond in the probation violation case changed to a no-bond order allowing an out-of-state extradition.
“We got that warrant and we pursued him on the charges of the probation violation and failure to register,” Kruse explained.
“We make these cases a priority,” he added. “With the type and nature of that crime, we were concerned that a guy with that kind of history could possibly (re-offend.)”
It remains unclear the extent, if any, police are investigating that possibility that Bachelier has committed other sex crimes.
Questions to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and to police in Phoenix and Seattle went unanswered. Tempe police declined comment after the arrest, deferring to the Marshals Service, but days beforehand said they had “a very active investigation” of Bachelier.
Similarly, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not respond by deadline to questions about how county prosecutors would proceed or if it would bring new charges.
Kruse said Bachelier can fight extradition, but most fugitives tend to accept it. If he delays extradition, states have compacts that allow governors to issue warrants to send fugitives back to the state where they face charges. Online jail records at King County suggest he waived his extradition appeal and was denied bail.
In the meantime, the 27-year-old woman who accused Bachelier of raping her is just relieved he’s in custody. The police investigation has stalled, even though she identified him and he agreed to submit a DNA sample.
Police never collected a rape investigation kit, and it’s unclear if any productive forensic evidence has come back from the woman’s clothes.
It’s also not clear if police have checked Bachelier’s known DNA against samples from other cases or if they’ve revisited open cases that may bear similarities to his behavior.
The woman said he had her alone in a closed bar when she woke up with him on top of her. She described symptoms similar to those common with Rohypnol, the “date rape drug.”
In the 2013 conviction, Bachelier had been accused of fondling his teenage sister-in-law in her sleep.
His habit of meeting women at the bar in Seattle seema to fit a pattern.
The Phoenix assault victim, who moved out of the state and began working at a rape crisis center, said before the encounter at The Monocle, Bachelier saw her at a local bar and his actions were odd.
“He texted that he saw me walking into Valley Bar and that I looked pretty. I brushed off that comment and didn't think much of it, but thought it was weird he didn't just say hello if he saw me out,” she said in an email.
This was after he texted her about “letting her inhabitants out” the next time they met, which she took to mean “inhibitions.”
“Everything about his communication prior seems now like he was trying to see what my habits were and wanting to meet up while I was already drinking,” she said.
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She said she came forward to protect other women, fearful that he was opening a bar near ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus as a trap.
“While I feel a great sense of relief hearing he has been apprehended, I can only hope and remain skeptical the State of Arizona will extradite and finally properly sentence an obvious dangerous criminal to ensure the safety of women and children,” she said when news of the arrest broke.
After learning about Bachelier’s background, Hawk's Nest owner Piano said he will never hire blind again and also feels a greater danger has been averted.
“That guy could’ve done some damage. He could’ve assaulted a customer or assaulted my daughter,” Piano said.