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Orange County

Serial Molester Gets 19-Years-to-Life Term

Courts: He once claimed 212 victims. Most attacks were in Northwest, but one in Anaheim led to suicide.


Edward Harvey Stokes, considered one of the most notorious sex offenders in the Western United States, spent nearly three decades cruising the streets of the Pacific Northwest, searching for teenage boys.

He targeted runaways and kids in trouble with the law, victims who would be too afraid to report what he did to them, police said. He gave his victims alcohol and drugs until they could not fight his sexual advances. Some woke in handcuffs and leg irons.

During one prison stretch in Oregon during the early 1990s, he wrote to a therapist that he had molested 212 victims and felt like a monster. But Stokes was eventually released and hit the road again--this time with a 16-year-old Seattle runaway for a trip to Disneyland.

On Thursday, Stokes, 45, was sentenced in Orange County to 19 years to life in prison for molesting the teenager, who committed suicide this year on the eve of the trial.

Prosecutors and relatives of some victims expressed hope that the sentence will mean the end of the road for Stokes.

"He's left a trail of ruined lives," Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Matt Murphy said. "There are two suicides [of victims] that we know of. The very few victims that were not already having difficulties in their lives wound up having tremendous problems after Stokes was finished with them."

Authorities said they can do little to examine Stokes' prison claims of molesting hundreds of boys because he didn't say where the crimes took place. Additionally, the statute of limitations on molestation in Oregon and Washington already has passed.

Police in the Pacific Northwest, who had grown frustrated with the short prison stints that separated one victim from another, said they were relieved that Stokes will remain behind bars for at least 19 more years.

"He'd go from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and get a couple of months here and a couple of months there," King County (Wash.) sheriff's Detective Casey Johnson said. "There's no mechanism to put all this stuff together. You should be able to lock these people up forever."

But for the mother of Blue Karak, the victim in the Anaheim case, the sentence was bittersweet. It was just seven months ago that Karak parked his car in his mother's garage and ran the engine until he died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

"It's great that it's not going to happen to someone else, that he's not going to be able to hurt anyone else, but it isn't going to help Blue any," Lori Uncapher said from her home in Fountain, Colo. "I think he would have been happy, though. . . . [Stokes] needs to be put away for the rest of his life."

Stokes met Karak, a homeless runaway, on the streets of Seattle in 1996. Only days earlier, Seattle police had arrested Stokes on a parole violation warrant and released him on $25,000 bail. Stokes raised the bail from a family inheritance.

Karak was initially reluctant to travel with Stokes but agreed to go to California when the stranger promised to pay all his expenses, according to court records. He later told police he had no idea that his new travel companion was a self-professed sexual predator--and was wanted by the law.

Once Stokes and his young companion reached Anaheim, they checked into the Little Boy Blue motel. When the boy refused his sexual advances, Stokes threatened to assault him, then forced him to drink tequila and take LSD until he submitted, prosecutors alleged.

Karak escaped from the motel and reported the assault to Anaheim police, and Stokes was arrested a few weeks later in Reno on weapons charges.

The boy was forever changed by the incident, his mother said. He became depressed and suicidal, slashing his wrists and mutilating himself.

"He tried to kill himself quite a few times. I patched his arms up. . . . He was not the kind of kid to hold things in, but he held this in a lot," his mother said.

Karak tried to put the ordeal behind him, but as the court case dragged on, the prospect of testifying and reliving the experience haunted him, Uncapher said.

"It was embarrassing to him. It made him feel that he had done something wrong too," she said. "It's not something a boy wants to go through more than once. He didn't want anyone to know."

In April, Uncapher found her son's body in her garage, suffocated in his car with the garage doors closed.

Stokes was first arrested in 1974 for sodomy in Washington state and three more times in the 1980s for unlawful imprisonment, statutory rape and indecent communication with a minor, according to court records. He received jail sentences and psychiatric treatment.

Prosecuting Stokes has proved especially difficult because of the way he chose his victims, zeroing in on the type of boys who would be most reluctant to cooperate with police, authorities said. In 1989, he bailed two young men out of jail in Denver and allegedly told them they'd have to work at his house for 10 days to repay him, according to court records.

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