Father of Kent City worker Seth Frankel reacts to arrest of suspect in son’s death
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
December 16, 2010 · Updated 2:18 PM
Richard Frankel reaches the same conclusion whenever he tries to cope with his son's murder.
"It doesn't make any sense," Frankel said during a Monday phone interview from his Hawaii home. "You never expect your child to die before you, especially something so sudden. Even now, it's hard to believe it happened."
Auburn Police – with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service – arrested a 30-year-old Oregon man Dec. 10 in Portland in connection with the stabbing death of Frankel, 41, a city of Kent employee killed May 21 at his Auburn home.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has charged William L. Phillip Jr. with one count of first-degree murder. He was still being held on $1 million bail Tuesday in the Multonomah County Jail in Portland, awaiting extradition to Washington state.
Phillip is scheduled to be arraigned 9 a.m. Dec. 21 in Courtroom GA at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
The arrest finally provided some closure to Richard Frankel, 71, an emeritus professor at University of Hawaii’s medical school where he has taught for 39 years.
"The Auburn Police did a terrific job," Richard Frankel said. "I know they worked really hard all sort of ways. We are really grateful to them. They did a great job of keeping me informed to the extent they could."
But he has mixed emotions about the arrest.
"I do not want to say it brought happiness," he said. "These have not been happy times. But I do find relief that he (Phillip) is off the street and cannot try to harm anyone else in the family. My wife, Seth's stepmom, was very nervous. There is a sense of relief."
"It's frustrating that Seth is dead and this guy is going on with his job and his life," the father said. "There is some satisfaction (with an arrest). But it's not like we were doing any high-fives and partying."
Prosecutors allege that Phillip, a former boyfriend of the woman Seth Frankel dated, drove to Auburn from Oregon to kill Frankel because he was angry that someone else was dating his former girlfriend. Detectives connected Phillip to the murder through a blood-stained towel found at Frankel's house as well as cell-phone records that put him near the home May 21.
Seth Frankel, a video program coordinator, joined the city of Kent in 2007 after 11 years as a director of production at a PBS station in Eureka, Calif. He was the employee behind most of the city meetings and events shown on Kent TV21.
He grew up in Hawaii prior to moving to the mainland to attend the University of Oregon. He often returned home to visit family and friends, and just a month before his death, brought his two young daughters to visit Hawaii.
Hawaii always had a place in Frankel's life.
"He was always a fun, upbeat and likable guy," Richard Frankel said. "He loved it here in Hawaii. It was always fun to have him come home."
Little did the father know the April trip would be the last time he would see his son.
"There is some consolation that I did get to see him and have a good time with him," Richard Frankel said.
Now when he sees places where he backpacked with his son or hears the rock 'n' roll music Seth loved, the memories come flooding back.
"There are things all the time that remind me of him," he said, remembering how he taught his son to backpack and helped develop his love for the outdoors. "It makes me miss him even more."
Besides Seth's father, daughters and former wife, he is survived by his mother Emily Markiewitz and stepfather Ron Markiewitz as well as a sister, a stepsister and a stepbrother.
Richard Frankel said family bonds are what helps him cope with his son's death.
"I try to focus on the rest of the family and be there for other people," he said. "I want to be thankful for what I've got and that no matter how bad it is, there are people worse off."
He tries to focus much of his time on his four grandchildren, including Seth's two daughters.
"The grandchildren have been a big part of it," Frankel said. "They do a good job of keeping my mind off Seth's death."Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.