Georgia Says Seattle Murder Suspect Wasn’t Supposed to Be In Washington State

Authorities in Georgia apparently failed to notice that a violent parolee—arrested by Seattle police for a fatal attack on his girlfriend outside her Greenwood home on Christmas Eve—had gone missing in his home state and moved to Seattle

In an email to PubliCola this morning, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said Johnnie Lee Wiggins—the man arrested yesterday by Seattle homicide detectives for the death of his girlfriend, Woodinville High School teacher Prudence Hockley—was an “unsupervised probationer” in Georgia.

Wiggins lived in Washington between 2008 and August 2011 (before returning to Georgia briefly). While living in Washington, Department of Corrections officers regularly checked on Wiggins, who Washington DOC flagged as a “high-violent offender,” with prior convictions for theft, assault, and exposing himself in public. Law enforcement records describe Wiggins as a “high energy and a smooth operator,” who had problems with drugs and issues and “sexual deviancy.”

Wiggins became the focus of a heated battle between the Washington and Georgia Department of Corrections, after he attacked a corrections officers in Seattle. Washington authorities wanted Georgia DOC to extradite Wiggins back to his home state, but Georgia DOC refused. Wiggins eventually voluntarily returned to Georgia in mid-August and checked in with his probation officer, according to the Georgia DOC.

It appears authorities in Georgia did not keep as close an eye on Wiggins who, as an “unsupervised probationer,” was only required to check in with his probation officer if he left the state. Since Wiggins didn’t contact his PO before returning to Seattle, authorities in Georgia apparently didn’t realize he was gone.

Georgia DOC officials declined to provide information on when Wiggins last contacted his probation officer in his home state, citing confidentiality rules. A Georgia DOC spokeswoman said her office is in the process of “obtaining a warrant for Wiggins and is taking the proper steps to extradite Wiggins back to the state.”

Wiggins has not yet been charged for Hockley’s murder, but is being held without bail at the King County Jail.