Sunday, September 13, 2009

Belligham man gets 45 years for murder of wife even without body


BELLINGHAM - Bruce Hummel was given a maximum sentence of 45 years in a state prison after refusing to reveal the location of his wife's remains.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder sentenced Hummel Tuesday, Sept. 8, for murdering his wife, Alice, in October 1990. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder Aug. 20.

Hummel, 67, had been facing a sentence of 34 to 45 years in prison. Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran said he offered to recommend the minimum sentence if Hummel provided information leading to his wife's remains. Hummel declined, and McEachran recommended the maximum sentence.

"It would have provided such a relief to the children to bury their mother," McEachran said, adding that he thought the sentence was "very fitting."

Hummel's attorney, Jon Komorowski, director of the Whatcom County Public Defender's Office, said they intend on appealing the conviction, citing insufficient evidence.

"Mr. Hummel has always maintained his innocence," Komorowski said.

The Hummels' three children have not seen their mother since October 1990, and Alice Hummel's body has never been found.

The backbone of McEachran's case was a nine-year investigation by Bellingham Police detectives, who began looking into Alice's disappearance after her oldest daughter filed a missing person's report with the department in 2001.

McEachran said that Bruce Hummel killed his wife to continue cashing her disability checks and to cover up his alleged molestation of his youngest daughter. Alice Hummel found out about the alleged molestation just before she disappeared, McEachran said.

Hummel covered up the murder by telling his children that Alice moved to California for a new job and to abandon the family, McEachran argued in court.

Letters and packages purportedly from Alice Hummel were sent to the children for years after her disappearance. But police could find no trace of her existence after October 1990.

Bruce Hummel initially told police his wife had abandoned the family. Later he sent them a letter saying Alice had committed suicide and he dumped her body in Bellingham Bay.

Hummel will be transferred to a state prison Tuesday, Sept. 15, to begin serving his sentence.

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