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Alarming evidence adds to murder-suicide mystery
Investigators believe the man who committed last month’s murder-suicide at a Redmond apartment complex wanted to carry out a much more obsessive, elaborate plan – possibly abduction.
Joseph Batten defied a protection order and brutally killed his estranged wife, Melissa Batten, as she was on her way to work. He then shot and killed himself. And evidence indicates, he wanted to do more than just kill his wife.
“So while we don’t know what his master plan was, we are led to believe it much worse, and likely much more drawn out, than what happened,” according to Jim Bove, Redmond Police Department public information officer.
Investigators found fuzzy handcuffs, hardcore pornography, an 8-inch cutting knife and $6,000 in cash in the trunk of Joseph Batten’s Mercedes sedan, Bove said.
“Common sense would say he wanted to abduct her,” Bove said.
Melissa, 36, a software development engineer in Microsoft’s Xbox division, had acquired an emergency protection order against Joseph a week before her murder. The protection order said Joseph was not allowed within 100 yards of Melissa.
The protection order did not stop Joseph, 36, from tracking down Melissa and killing her in broad daylight.
Witnesses told investigators that Joseph was lurking in the parking lot of Archstone Redmond Campus Apartments on July 29, about an hour before the murder-suicide happened at 9:05 a.m.
He was waiting by a dumpster, just outside of Melissa’s apartment when he approached her holding a 9-mm gun, Bove said. As he approached her, Melissa screamed out “no, no,” according to witnesses, Bove said.
A grandmother walking with her two grandchildren witnessed the scary confrontation, Bove said.
Shortly after Melissa screamed out, Joseph violently unloaded eight bullets at point-blank range into Melissa’s torso. He then turned the gun and killed himself with one shot. A .357 was found in Joseph’s back waistline.
The nearby witnesses were not harmed, although a stray bullet did hit a parked sports utility vehicle, Bove said.
“It was an isolated incident,” Bove said. “It was a crime of passion.”
While Bove unveiled some of the pieces to this tragic puzzle, he did say there are plenty of remaining questions.
Bove said the main questions are: Did the estranged couple communicate the day of the murder? Where, how and when did he get the guns? And what exactly was his master plan?
‘SHE DID EVERYTHING RIGHT’
The biggest question is: How did all of this happen?
Melissa moved away from Joseph, who showed obsessive, abusive tendencies. She had a protection order against him. And she had a strong support group.
She took all the proper steps, according to Barbara Langdon, the executive director at the Eastside Domestic Violence Program (EDVP) in Bellevue. EDVP is the largest domestic violence agency in east and north King County.
“She did everything right. She was getting her life back on track,” Langdon said. “That’s what makes this more tragic.”
EDVP provides a wide-range of services to help women escape domestic violence. However as Langdon said, “sometimes it doesn’t work and sometimes it really does work.
“We just want to be there to help when they need it,” said Langdon, who added that one in four woman nationally are victims of domestic violence.
And as Langdon point outs out domestic has no boundaries.
“It crosses all economic barriers, all cultures,” she said. “Nobody is immune to domestic violence.”
YOUNG AND TALENTED
Both Melissa and Joseph were educated, successful professionals. Melissa was a Harvard Law graduate and Joseph got his mathematics degree from Marshall University. Joseph, a former Microsoft employee, was a senior manager at Wizards of the Coast.
Ironically, Melissa worked as a public defender in North Carolina from 2000-2002, handling domestic cases. In other words, she knew the benefits and limitations of protection orders.
Soon after she moved to the area in 2002, she switched gears and got a job at Microsoft. Joseph, who was already working as a video game programmer at Microsoft, was a big reason Melissa changed career paths.
“I came to my interest in gaming relatively late in the game so to speak, when my husband turned me onto gaming. … Course, at the time he introduced me to gaming, I was not in the technology and in fact was a lawyer,” according to a 2006 post by Melissa to her co-workers at Microsoft Game Studios. “My husband worked for MS, so he was extremely supportive of me and helped me become somewhat technical by tutoring me.”
But their relationship got rocky, with the backbreaker coming June 5 when Joseph pulled a gun on her and said, “sit down, you aren’t going anywhere,” she wrote in the protection order request.
The protection described his obsessive and abusive behavior.
After she moved out, he bombarded her with phone calls and texts and even broke into her work at Microsoft before being kicked out by security.
She got the protection order on July 21, just five days before she was murdered.
Two flower vases now sit in the parking lot where Melissa and Joseph took their last breaths.
“Protection orders keep honest people honest,” Bove said after detailing the investigators findings. “Most of the time they work.
“You can’t cut off love.”