By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — From her prison cell in New Hampshire, Barbara Opel recently made a written plea to be allowed to exchange letters with the daughter she recruited to murder an Everett man a dozen years ago.
A judge on Friday succinctly turned down the convicted murderer’s request.
“I’m familiar with the case, and I’ll deny the motion,” Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne said.
Opel was found guilty of masterminding the brutal stabbing and beating death of her boss, Jerry Heimann, 64. In the spring of 2001, she hired her daughter, Heather, then 13, and four other teenagers to kill Heimann at his Everett home. Jurors were asked to sentence Opel to death. They chose to spare her life.
At the time, Opel was sentenced to life behind bars, the late Superior Court Judge Gerald Knight forbade her from having contact with her three children, including Heather. He also recommended that she not be housed in the same prison with Heather or her daughter’s best friend, Marriam Oliver, then 14, who also was involved in the horrific crime.
Opel, 50, sent a request to the court last month, saying she received a letter from Heather in March. She wrote her daughter back, but the letter was returned after corrections officials realized there was a no-contact order.
In her letter, Opel pointed to the small note at the bottom of the sentencing paperwork that indicated that the no-contact order was “subject to future modification.”
Locked up on the other side of the continent, Opel didn’t attend Friday’s hearing. She also hadn’t made arrangements to call in and argue her case, the judge was told.
Deputy prosecutor Chris Dickinson opposed Opel’s request, saying “the last time these two had regular contact a man got murdered.”
Opel met Heimann in November 2000. She and her children moved into his south Everett home where she began working as a caretaker for Heimann’s 89-year-old mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease.
Prosecutors alleged Opel planned Heimann’s killing in order to get her hands on his money. She recruited five teens, including Heather and the girl’s best friend and boyfriend to ambush her boss. Heimann was stabbed, and beaten with a baseball bat. Dickinson told jurors that Opel wrecked the lives of the teens with her greed.
Heather, convicted of first-degree murder, was sentenced to 22 years in prison. She is housed at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor. She turns 26 next month.
At some point during the trial, a corrections officer reported that Barbara Opel was heard saying that she hoped to be reunited with her daughter so they could “kick ass” in prison.
The older Opel was moved to the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in 2005. Heather was transferred to Washington’s women’s prison in 2006, shortly after her 18th birthday. Mother and daughter were never together in prison.
Meanwhile, Marriam Oliver, who also is serving 22 years in prison for her part in the murder, has petitioned to have her sentence commuted. The state Clemency and Pardons Board is scheduled to hear her petition next month.
Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe is opposed.
“I’m not supporting her serving only half of her sentence and getting out,” Roe said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.