Wendy Hutchens reveals little of what draws sinister men to her

Wendy Hutchens admits that when others describe her life, they've called her "a magnet for evil" and an ill-fated woman who attracts sinister men "like moths to a porch light."

Hutchens, 49, claims that as a child living in the Santa Cruz Mountains she knew Richard Allen Davis, who is now on Death Row, and eight years ago had an encounter with Wayne Adam Ford, who would be convicted as a serial killer.

And in 2001 she met John Mark Karr, foreshadowing Karr's arrest in JonBenet Ramsey's decade-old slaying.

The fates of Hutchens and 41-year-old Karr, both former Petaluma residents, intersected again Aug. 17 after his arrest in Thailand. Karr said he'd accidentally killed JonBenet Ramsey in 1996, and Hutchens recovered e-mails and taped conversations with Karr that showed his obsession with the Colorado 6-year-old and other slain girls.

Hutchens, a one-time poker dealer, unearthed the tapes and e-mail transcripts from a storage unit in Roseville, her most recent home. Stored there, too, was a dry-erase calendar from January 2001 with one column labeled, "killers."

Hutchens' calendar refers repeatedly to letters and phone calls she claims to have exchanged with Davis and Ford who, carrying a woman's severed breast, turned himself in to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department in 1998.

Purported excerpts from her diary - posted on eBay by a Windsor acquaintance who has put it up for bid - paint a picture consistent with Hutchens' calendars, phone logs and meticulously ordered files: She immersed herself in the lives of violent sexual offenders.

Karr's interest in the abduction and slaying of 12-year-old Polly Klaas and Davis, her convicted killer, prompted his introductory e-mail to Hutchens on March 12, 2001.

"My interest in this case goes beyond that of Richard himself," Karr wrote in one of two e-mail transcripts Hutchens shared with The Press Democrat. "I have experienced a spiritual connection with Polly, as I have with other deceased children like her."

The e-mails and recorded phone conversations with Karr that Hutchens began saving that spring became part of a probe by Sonoma County sheriff's detectives into Karr's activities, leading to his April 2001 arrest on five misdemeanor counts of possessing child pornography. The sheriff's department confirmed that Hutchens recorded some conversations with Karr - 20 hours, by her count - with their cooperation.

Hutchens' childhood ties to Davis and her interest in Ford positioned her as Karr's confidante, she said.

"I know how to talk to these guys 'cause we've had similar backgrounds and similar psychological problems," Hutchens said Thursday, declining to elaborate on her own mental health history. "It's just that I know that it's wrong to kill."

Detectives eliminated Karr, a one-time substitute teacher in Petaluma and Napa, as a suspect in the still-unsolved 1997 slaying of Georgia Moses, whose body was found along Highway 101. But Hutchens has spent five troubled years recalling Karr's fascination with JonBenet's strangling and beating, and remembering Karr's accounts of seeing himself through her killer's eyes.

"I think that he absolutely killed a little girl in the way he described doing it," said Hutchens, speaking of the garrote used to choke JonBenet. "Whether it was JonBenet, I'm not sure. I wasn't sure if he was just a copycat, doing this stuff (while) imagining what the killer of JonBenet did."

Though interviewed on ABC News programs "Good Morning America" and "Primetime," Hutchens has revealed little about her own past - other than the longtime attachment to killers with a history of violence against women.

"I was molested, I was abused, and my whole life, I've been trying to get these guys to tell me why," she said during an interview this month in Petaluma, while staying with her daughter. "I don't go looking for these guys; these guys are just drawn to me."

Hutchens has had her own run-ins with local courts, including a no contest plea in 2002 to a misdemeanor weapons-possession charge for having a short-barreled rifle, Sonoma County records show. That followed separate charges in 1998 and 1994 of possessing a controlled substance and misdemeanor grand theft.

En route to an interview on CNN's Larry King show, Hutchens spoke of escaping the media circus. Having lived in Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Cloverdale and Petaluma before her stint in Roseville, where will Hutchens settle?

"I want to probably go somewhere where I can be out of the spotlight," she said.

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