A serial rapist who was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator in 2002 was sentenced to serve at least 14.5 years, and up to life in prison, for the 1980 rape and fatal strangling of a 19-year-old Bellevue woman in 1980.
Because Michael Halgren, 58, strangled Susan Barbara Lowe with a pair of pantyhose before sentencing reforms took effect in 1984, King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff was required to sentence Halgren to minimum and maximum sentences — with Halgren’s maximum sentence being life in prison.
As part of his plea deal with prosecutors, Halgren will be returned to the Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island should he ever be released, court records show.
Despite a reward, Lowe’s homicide case went cold until 2012, when scientists from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory matched DNA found at the crime scene with Halgren, according to court charges.
Halgren was charged with first-degree murder in January 2013. Halgren pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder. According to prosecutors, the DNA evidence had degraded over time, which is why they agreed to the reduced charge.
Halgren’s DNA was collected while he was a patient at the SCC, where he had been civilly committed in 2002. He had been convicted of first-degree rape, stemming from a 1989 sexual assault on a woman in Bellevue; and of unlawful imprisonment after he abducted a prostitute in Seattle in 1995, according to court records.
According to the murder charges in the Lowe case, doctors at McNeil Island learned over the years that Halgren had peeped through women’s windows when he was a teen, exposed himself to nearly 40 women when he was in his early 20s and raped more than 20 women, mainly prostitutes, after being discharged from the military in 1975.
He also told doctors he raped a relative after graduating from high school and raped three more women in 1974, 1979 and 1980, according to charging paperwork.