Burien Man Charged With Hate Crime For Sending Threatening Note, Photos to His Landlord

Prosecutors have filed malicious harassment charges—Washington’s hate crime statute—against a Burien man who allegedly sent a package of threatening notes and a photo of a lynching to his landlord.

King County prosecutors allege that for the last month, Robert Brian Masters, 66, has harassed a number of residents in his apartment building 11800 block of 28th Ave S near the Seattle-Burien border.

In the most recent incident on January 2nd, police records say Masters passed on a packet to his building manager which included photo of a couple having sex, “a photo of an exposed vagina with a belt buckle emblazoned with the words ‘boy toy'” as well as “religious material and a photo of black males being hung.” Underneath the photo, police records say, was a note which read “Hang in there, Baby!” Masters’ landlord, who is black, then called police.

When King County Sheriff’s deputies contacted Masters about the packet, he told them “it was his way of showing affection.”

Police and prosecutors are also looking into other complaints made by Masters’ neighbors. Court records say that on December 5th, Masters allegedly used a knife to carve the words “kill the vermin” and an X in his neighbor’s door. Neighbors also claim Masters was once found in a common area in the building, carrying a knife, and screaming. When police searched Masters’ apartment, they found writing on the walls—presumably scrawled by Masters—which noted that he “has the power” and warned that people should “be afraid of him.”

Prosecutors rushed the filing the case and are still working to compile Masters’ criminal history. However, court records indicate that Masters was convicted of possession of an open container and obstruction in 1995.

Masters’ possible motivation for sending the photos is unclear, but court records note that he had recently planned to move out of his building. Court records also say Masters is bi-polar and off his medication. Prosecutors believe Masters is “a danger to community safety” and have asked for $50,000 bail in the case.