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July 06, 2007
V 35 Issue 27

 
 
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Mike Webb murdered
Mike Webb murdered
by Lisa Wardle - SGN Staff Writer

Last Friday, medical examiners confirmed that the extremely decomposed body found Thursday, June 28, belonged to radio personality Mike Webb. The corpse had been uncovered in a basement crawl space by property manager David Neth and a hired worker. It was wrapped in a blue tarp, covered by piles of boxes, and in a crawlspace secured with a piece of plywood wedged behind a bookshelf. Investigators were able to determine that the body had been repeatedly stabbed, and police have officially ruled the case as homicide.

Mike was last seen on April 13th, airing his last radio show on the night before, and friends and family began to worry not long after. Text messages were sent to Mike's family from his cell phone for the next month, stating that he was planning to leave town. This behavior was atypical of Mike, and his family eventually demanded that he call them to speak verbally. The text messages then ceased, and Marian Bogni, Mike's sister, filed a missing persons report on May 14th.

David Neth was only informed of his missing tenant after the initial police search in May. He had been on vacation in California and was unaware of any strange activity, or lack of activity, going on in the house.

"His sister, I believe, was paying his rent for many months - it always came through my mail slot at odd times of the day in the form of a cashiers check, but always on time, which wasn't necessarily true if Mike was paying it," Neth stated.

Friends, though worried, remained hopeful throughout the duration of his absence. Webb's former KIRO producer and friend, Jeremy Grater, said that the reality of his disappearance didn't fully sink in until Webb's sister got in contact with him and told Jeremy that she was worried.

"Strange things happen to Mike. It wasn't unlike him to have a really outrageous story about something, whether it was the commute to work or the biggest thing that could have happened. In the back of my mind I just kept waiting for him to show up with a sombrero saying that he was back from Kenta& It just never seemed like this was really going to be the way it would end," Grater said in a radio broadcast. The case grew cold, after receiving little attention from officials, and no one heard from Webb in months. His house was growing more grotesque and apparently vacant as time passed. A neighbor noted a thick layer of flies on the basement window, and Webb's brother reported a strong odor in the house. Though friends and police went through the house several times to try and find any clues to Webb's whereabouts, nothing was found.

"I had been through the house and there was no body, although there was an odor in the half basement and lots of flies. I didn't think much of the odor because Webb had let his dog defecate and urinate in the basement in her final months and we had given him a firm warning about the permanent odor problem it had caused. Also, the odor wasn't that strong and was only in a corner of the basement," Neth wrote in an e-mail to KING 5 News.

After nearly a month, the Seattle Police Department conducted another search in Webb's house, this time equipped with cadaver dogs. The dogs are trained to locate a corpse underneath piles of rubble, avalanched snow, and running water. The search, only eleven days prior to the discovery of the corpse, resulted with no new evidence or clues to the case.

Upon not receiving the rent for June, Neth posted a 3-day notice to vacate on the 12th of that month. Two and a half weeks later, he determined the house to be abandoned and re-entered the building to begin clearing out the residence. He noticed a thick pile of uncollected mail that had accumulated underneath the mail slot. The pile appeared to be about three weeks old, creating layers of a paper timeline. Neth hired a worker from the Millionaires Club to clean the house, informing him of the situation, and left to conduct other business.

When Neth went back to the basement with the owner of the house, the worker was almost done emptying the basement. He had moved two shelves and uncovered a 4x4 piece of plywood that was wedged behind one of the shelves, covering a small, three-foot high crawl space. Behind the covering were piles of boxes along the wall just inside of the space.

"When I came back downstairs [the worker] had the boxes all out and underneath there was a blue tarp, neatly squared to the wall, and what to me was the clear outline of a body under the tarp...I told him to leave the house with me and once outside, I immediately phoned the police," Neth reported.

In the crawl space, Neth noticed a missing black vapor barrier plastic that had been required to cover the floor. He stated that it is not desirable to remove the barrier from an entire crawl space, and is not particularly easy to accomplish either. He said that Mike's lack of cleanliness made it unlikely that he would have been responsible. Webb's landlord also reported missing computers and a tampered sign that was securing the back door, though the rest of the house seemed intact.

"Mike had been in the house the entire time. Friends have been through the house, police have been through the house, most importantly, cadaver dogs have been through the house and they didn't find him& I just cannot understand how these finely tuned machines, these cadaver dogs, could not find what they are specifically there looking for," stated Grater.

Grater grew close to Webb in the five years that he had produced Webb's show. They worked together for hours on end discussing politics and world events. After leaving KIRO radio, the two remained in touch and stayed friends. Grater spoke about previous civil issues between Webb and the Seattle Police, stating that there had been a lawsuit and also that Webb would repeatedly comment on the police during his show. "I've heard a lot of people calling me or e-mailing me and saying that [Webb] beat up the police on the airwaves, so what interest would they have in finding him? They're probably glad to see him gone. Every part of me wants to believe that the Seattle Police Department is grown up enough to move beyond whatever bitterness there might have been," Grater said.

Many people are frustrated and upset to learn about the treatment of this case. They wonder if the Seattle Police really did all that they could have to investigate the case. In a time of mourning, everyone wishes that something could have been changed, that perhaps acting differently could have saved his life. "It does seem to me that maybe the missing persons detectives of the Seattle Police weren't trying hard enough to find him," commented John McMullen, a longtime friend and former employer.

The investigation to find Webb's killer is currently underway, with police on the lookout for a character Webb had been recently spending time with, and who his family has reported as being "shady". The name of this suspect is not yet released, but family and friends remain hopeful that the assailant will be found. Grater said that if the killer is found, Webb would not have wanted him to receive the death penalty, and that he would never wish death upon anyone.

"Mike has a heart as big as the whole outdoors. Believe it or not, he's very sensitive-or was. I can't get used to saying that-[he had] a big heart [and was] very caring. A lot of people don't see that side of him, because his personality on the radio was totally opposite. I would sit there and actually cringe sometimes about some of the things he said on the air, because I see him as a totally different personality," said Webb's sister, Marian Bogni.

Marian arrived in town Saturday, June, 30, to collect Webb's remains and take them to the Bay area to be buried alongside his mother and brother. Local mourners have started to create a small memorial in front of Webb's house in the Queen Anne neighborhood. There are flowers, cards, and a can of RockStar (his favorite drink) to remember his presence there. A formal memorial service has yet to be scheduled, but is expected to be held later this month in Seattle. This past Friday, June 29, radio friend John McMullen aired a two-hour long radio program on the GayBC Radio Network to honor Webb.

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