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July 24, 1993
Author: Michael A. Barber, P-I Reporter
The man charged yesterday in the gruesome slaying of a prostitute was described yesterday by a longtime friend as a generous, avuncular neighbor who showed no signs of violence.
James M. Fiori, 47 (age), of Queen Anne was charged in King County Superior Court yesterday with first-degree murder in the July 17 slaying of Alane Alice Scott, 28. He remained in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Scott’s decapitated and mutilated body was found early Monday in North Seattle’s Haller Lake neighborhood. According to the charges, she was picked up by Fiori for sex and was killed in his apartment when she tried to steal money from him.
Scott’s body was mutilated in a botched attempt by Fiori to remove it from his apartment without being detected, an affidavit accompanying the charges alleged.
Suspecting that Fiori had dumped the missing body parts into the garbage, Seattle police combed hundreds of tons of garbage at an Oregon landfill yesterday in an unsuccessful search for the remains.
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said he would seek an exceptional sentence beyond the standard penalty range of 20 to 27 years for first-degree murder .
Maleng called the killing “one of the most brutal and gruesome murders I have seen in our community’s recent history.”
The North Seattle friend of Fiori’s said the brutality of Scott’s slaying was not reflected in the lonely but generous man she knew.
The woman, who agreed to be interviewed if she was not named, said she met Fiori in 1986 when she lived near him on Queen Anne with her father.
“He just befriended me. I was poor and became like his only friend,” the woman said yesterday. “He was pretty much a loner. I was like a daughter to him that he never had.”
The woman also was interviewed by homicide detectives to learn more about Fiori’s background.
“He was real friendly, and he was pretty generous. He would give me money and take me places,” she said, adding that Fiori never made any sexual advances toward her.
“When I got pregnant . . .four years ago, he helped me and my boyfriend out. When my son was born, he’d take my son and me to Toys R Us all the time.
“I never saw him violent at all. This is so scary now. He must have just snapped,” she said of the allegations against Fiori. “I don’t think I’m going to associate with him anymore.”
After he was arrested at his apartment Wednesday, Fiori phoned the woman to let her know he was going to jail.
“I was so shaken, I had to go to my dad’s house,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
She said Fiori seldom talked about himself or his past. She knew he had served in the Navy and was stationed on a ship during the Vietnam War.
Law enforcement sources said Fiori was on the USS Tripoli, a Marine amphibious assault ship that had a large hospital unit in which Fiori worked around the wounded.
Fiori’s friend said she believes he took medication for depression , but she was unsure if it was related to his service experience.
“He never talked about his life. He always talked about wanting to win the lottery or wanting to move to California. He used to work out with weights,” she said.
The last time she saw Fiori was the morning of July 17 – hours before police say he picked up Scott on Aurora Avenue. The friend said she would often visit his house because Fiori had hired her as a housekeeper.
“He was always gentle with my son. My son loved him,” she said. “When he played ball with my son, he was just like a little boy, a little kid. He would mention that someday he’d maybe meet a woman and maybe get married.”
But on Saturday evening after the woman left with her son, Fiori met Scott, a prostitute working on Aurora Avenue North, court papers said. One of her friends told police that Scott had a reputation for stealing from her customers.
According to details in the court affidavit, Fiori confessed that he killed Scott after paying her $70 at his apartment for sex. Fiori went to take a shower. When he returned, he found Scott rifling through an envelope containing his cash that had been stored in a closet.
“Angered, he picked up a knife from the dresser and stabbed her in the back. Alane Scott began screaming and running toward the front door,” the prosecutor’s affidavit said.
“He tackled her at the front door. He then choked her until she passed out. He left her on the living room floor, went to his bedroom and got a .38 revolver. He took a pillow, put it over her head to muffle the sound and shot her once in the head.”
The bullet entered her shoulder and was later recovered during an autopsy.
The charges said Scott died of a wound to her heart when the knife was thrust through her back.
Sifting through garbage in the mammoth Arlington, Ore., landfill, the police search for Scott’s body parts seemed like a macabre version of the proverbial hunt for a needle in a haystack.
Police believed the remains were in a tennis-court-sized dump site with about 250 tons of garbage. With the aid of police dogs, detectives dug through five feet of garbage in their unsuccessful search.
Disappointed officers gave up after two hours. There were no plans to resume the search.
“It’s disappointing. We thought we had a good chance to be successful. . . . It was a good methodical search at each level,” said Capt. Larry Farrar.
An ax and gun were recovered from a closet at Fiori’s apartment after he confessed to police, court papers said. Fiori told police he put the handsaw he used in a trash can outside his apartment building. The saw has not been recovered.
The knife was discarded in a storm drain. It was found Monday by a woman waiting to catch a bus for work.
P-I Reporter Scott Maier contributed to this report.
Index Terms: HOMICIDE, COURT, AGE
Record Number: 9307250045
Copyright (c) 1993, 2000 Seattle Post-Intelligencer ( http://seattlep-i.com). All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.