First Homicide of 2011 – Georgia Gunzer

Tacoma’s first homicide this year was 33-year-old Georgia Gunzer. Gunzer worked as a medical assistant and by all accounts was one of the happiest people you could ever meet. It seems that she was one of those people who always tried to see the best in people. In other words, she was the sort of person that makes Tacoma great.

Georgia had a daughter. She’s ten years old. Her daughter’s father got out of prison in October. He’d just done five years. During that time, according to court documents, Georgia Gunzer visited him six times. In October, she asked for a restraining order against him because she feared for her safety once he got out. This was not the first protection order she’d gotten against him. This order was denied because of her visits.

Friday, January 21st, Georgia Gunzer’s daughter had a slumber party at her apartment on in the 4200 block of South 50th Street. Georgia met up with her daughter’s 35-year-old father and they returned together to the apartment around 3am. While her daughter and friends were in the living room, Georgia and her ex-boyfriend argued in her bedroom. At one point, Georgia’s daughter knocked on the locked bedroom door and told them to quiet down so she and her friends could sleep.

Saturday morning, Georgia Gunzer’s ex-boyfriend arrived at Tacoma General Hospital in bloody clothing. He called 911 and said that he had gotten into a fight with his ex and that he may have “hurt her real bad”.

Georgia Gunzer’s daughter managed to open her mother’s bedroom door and found her in a pool of blood. She’d been stabbed at least twenty times. Police arrived and her ex-boyfriend was arrested. Monday morning her ex-boyfriend was charged with first degree murder.

There is already a lot of talk about ‘the system’ failing Georgia Gunzer. Friends say she’d done everything she could to protect herself within the law. I suppose it’s fairly easy to see it that way, but there’s really no evidence that a restraining order would have stopped this horrible crime from happening. Georgia’s ex-boyfriend was a career criminal. He wasn’t someone who behaved within the law and there’s nothing that says he wouldn’t have just violated the restraining order.

Similarly, there are those who want to blame Georgia Gunzer, her choice of men, and her apparent desire to keep this man in her life. Again, I think this misses the point. I didn’t know Georgia Gunzer, but from what I can tell from statements from her friends, she was someone who thought there was good in everyone and wanted to make things work. I can understand that. Similarly I can understand her ending up with a romantic partner who was just a bad person. This happens to almost everyone. Not all of us end up with murderers, but who among us doesn’t have at least one ex we can look at now and think how did we make such a big mistake?

The blame for Georgia Gunzer’s murder has to fall on her ex-boyfriend because by all accounts, he’s the one who killed her. Blaming the system and blaming the victim is counter-productive and incorrect. She was murdered by a murderer and she shouldn’t have been. That’s the sad truth.

NOTE: Chronicling Tacoma’s homicides is something I did a few years ago for a couple of years and I’ve decided to start doing it again. The idea behind it is to try to do a bit more than just a news story and focus on the victim of the crime. Whenever possible, I avoid using the name of the killer because it’s my opinion that such people don’t need or deserve any sort of publicity. I welcome comments, but warn that any threatening comments will not only not be accepted but will be reported as well. (I only add that last bit because the last time I did this, I received more than a couple of serious threats.) I especially appreciate any comments from friends or family who want to add or correct anything. Thank you.


6 responses to “First Homicide of 2011 – Georgia Gunzer

  1. Georgia was a close friend of my famliy and you are right she did see the best in everybody. But she saw the bad in Him as well. She tried for several years to hide from him because she knew what he was capable of. The system has failed her and she should have never been hurt. She was a wonderful person and when she did go to visit him it was for the sake of her daughter.

  2. Jack,

    Thanks for starting this series. I appreciate the insights not covered by the mainstream media.

    I agree with Kim. Ms. Gunzer’s murder was another in a VERY long stream of catastrophic failures in Pierce County, WA’s dysfunctional DV system. Since the murder of Crystal Brame, 28 people have been killed because the system failed people who experience DV in Pierce County. This includes five cops.

    Yes, a protection order is just a piece of paper. But, it kicks other systems into gear. The system failure in this case is that Bell should have had his sentence extended when he made threats and harassed her from prison. There certainly should have been a mechanism in place to protect Ms. Gunzer and her daughter once he was released.

    Yes, murderers are among us. But, law enforcement and the “justice” system can do way more than it does in Pierce County to protect people.

    Anne Caroline Drake

  3. I just want to say I have been a patient at the clenic Georgia word at for the last two years with the pregnancies of my 2 boys so I have been seen many times and every time I have seen Georgia she has been the so nice and caring to me and my two sons she will be truly missed and going to the doctor just won’t be the same anymore

  4. It wasn’t the system that failed Georgia. It was Georgia who failed Georgia.

    • At Kim F….. Stop blaming HER!! She is a victim and did nothing wrong!!! It really pisses me off when people do that!! Who the HELL do you think you are?? She was one of the Greatest people I know!! Sure a piece of paper won’t stop a knife or a gun but maybe JUST MAYBE it would’ve made him think twice about even coming around. No one will ever know now! Just because someone tries to be civil with someone doesn’t mean they deserve to die. She did not “fail” herself…. she should have had help, she should have been protected! The nerve of some people!!

  5. I loved Georgia, I’ve known her since she was very little. I agree she didn’t fail herself. She made a bad choice but she also wanted what was best for her daughter.
    In trying to keep her daughters father in the picture she put herself in grave danger. Remember there is a little girl involved who has just lost her mother in a most horrific way. These are scenes from the worst horror movies you have ever seen, found by a little girl. If you think Georgia failed Georgia your wrong. Naive … maybe. you need to understand the kindness and generosity of this woman before you make a statement like that. when we say she saw thw goodness in everybody, we mean that, she saw a goodness in him that noone else could see. but the rest of him scared her. We are not privey to any conversations she had with him. I will not defend or condone what alphonso did, Maybe he lied to get close, maybe as many abusive people do he said I’m sorry it wont happen again, and because she wanted to believe the good parts she saw were winning inside him she let him come back, maybe they were trying to find a way to have him in his daughters life. All things normal people that are seperated with children try to do. If you are a divoreced or seperated young mother don’t you try to make it so your childrens father can see his children?
    Unfortunately for our dear sweet Georgia.. trying to do the right thing for the one she loved the most, cost her her life

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