Torture, beating in Maple Falls sends man to hospital, suspected kidnapper to jail

Maple Falls man makes first appearance in torture and kidnapping case

Donald Lee Calvin makes his first appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 2 in Bellingham. Calvin is charged with assault in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, motor vehicle theft, two counts of unlawful possessi
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Donald Lee Calvin makes his first appearance in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 2 in Bellingham. Calvin is charged with assault in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, motor vehicle theft, two counts of unlawful possessi

A Maple Falls man faces kidnapping and torture charges for shackling a man to a ladder, injecting him with a hypodermic needle and attacking him with a Taser, hammer and baton, then fleeing on a train to Seattle with a loaded handgun, according to Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

The 42-year-old man escaped close to 24 hours later, covered in blood, with severe injuries to his head and arms. He was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The man reported to police that around 10 a.m. Wednesday he went to the home of his old neighbor, “Calvin,” later identified as Donald Lee Calvin, 60, of 8135 Balfour Valley Drive. Calvin asked the man about a briefcase and whether he knew who stole it, according to the sheriff’s office. The man recalled telling Calvin he didn’t know.

According to the man’s story, Calvin responded by shooting him with a Taser “numerous times,” beating him with a baton and hammer, and repeatedly injecting him with a mysterious substance. Calvin told him it was “pain medication.”

The man passed out, and at one point found himself handcuffed and shackled to a ladder on the living room floor, unable to move. Calvin continued to torture him by stomping on his wrists and demanding to know about the briefcase, the man reported.

Calvin kept the man tied up until Thursday morning, when he loaded him into a car – the victim’s 1997 Honda Accord – and drove him up a logging road, according to the sheriff’s office. There the man managed to open the front passenger’s side door, jump out and run to a nearby home to call 911.

Sheriff’s deputies obtained a search warrant for Calvin’s faded blue double-wide mobile home. They found a house of horrors: blood spatter on the living room carpet and wall, a bloody rope, a bloody baseball bat, a bloody ladder, bloody clothes in the washing machine, an empty box of leg irons, and four Tasers. All matched the victim’s account of what had transpired, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies also recovered a 9 mm handgun, a .22 caliber rifle, and stolen garden tools valued at more than $2,000.

Detectives learned that one of Calvin’s friends drove him to an Amtrak station in Mount Vernon on Thursday morning. The friend told deputies that Calvin said he would “beat the (expletive) out of (the man)” and drove him up a mountain road to make him believe he was going to “get plugged.”

The Honda was found over an embankment, and deputies called out a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter to help search for Calvin in case he had fled into the forest.

In the meantime, federal authorities detained Calvin at the Amtrak station in Seattle with a ticket in the name of “John Calvin.” In his lunchbox, police found a loaded 9 mm pistol.

Calvin told sheriff’s deputies that he “caught” the 42-year-old man in his house and punched him in the eye and hit him in the wrist with a metal pipe. Other parts of his story didn’t match with the man’s injuries, sheriff’s deputies said.

The man’s medical condition was “dire,” according to a statement read in court. He had severe cuts to his head, forehead and wrists; ligature marks from the rope, into the ligaments; a skull fracture; an orbital fracture; and kidney problems. He remained in satisfactory condition at Harborview on Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The sheriff’s office noted that Calvin had reported a stolen briefcase about a month ago. For reasons that aren’t clear, Calvin surmised that the man had stolen it, or that he knew who stole it, said Undersheriff Jeff Parks. The burglary report didn’t note anything of significant value in the briefcase.

Calvin has felony convictions on his record from the early 1980s, for assault in the third degree and drug possession. In the early 1990s he was convicted of third-degree rape of a child. Court records show he had been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon for attacking a woman, 26, with a hatchet in November 2003. She suffered a wound to the head. Those charges were dropped a few months later when police could no longer locate the victim.

Calvin was booked into Whatcom County Jail around 11:40 p.m. Thursday. Calvin covered his face and gasped, appearing to cry, as the deputy prosecutor, Erik Sigmar, read police reports at a bail hearing Friday afternoon. Calvin cupped his hand over his ear and told the court he had trouble hearing.

He faces charges of assault in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, motor vehicle theft, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of possession of stolen property.

Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich asked Calvin if he had any questions about what he is accused of. Calvin replied that he had many.

“Do I have a right to a grand jury, your honor?” he asked, in a high brittle voice. “Under the Fifth Amendment?”

“No,” Heydrich told him. “Not under the laws of the state of Washington.”

Heydrich said that, as someone familiar with local courts, he recognized Calvin’s name. Over 70 cases linked to Calvin are listed in a Washington state court database. Many are civil cases, appeals to the state Court of Appeals, or appeals to the state Supreme Court.

This year in his most recent lawsuit, where he acted as his own attorney, he accused his ex-landlord of towing away his 1956 pickup from his home without permission, dumping raw sewage on an adjacent property as close as possible to Calvin’s house and allowing up to 20 burglaries at the house because the landlord would not build a gate.

Calvin alleged that “miscreants” and “violent men” would often set off explosions and shoot guns in his yard at night to intimidate him. He demanded $375,000 in damages.

Calvin has not been formally charged in the kidnapping case. On Friday, the prosecutor asked for bail of $750,000. His public defender noted a lack of warrant history and a minimal disability income, and Heydrich set bail at $250,000.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb