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Press Release

Man who Assaulted Girlfriend and Child on Tulalip Tribal Land Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Strangled Partner, Threw Objects, and made Death Threats

          A 26-year-old man who resided with his girlfriend and their two children on Tulalip Tribal land has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 70 months in prison and three years of supervised release for a series of assaults and threats against the woman and her children, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  JOSHUA CARL VANDERWEL pleaded guilty to assault by strangulation, felony harassment and assault in the third degree on December 3, 2015.  VANDERWEL was arrested and originally charged in Tulalip Tribal court following the assaults in September 2014.  The case was charged federally in December 2014.

            At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik recommended that VANDERWEL undergo intensive drug treatment for his methamphetamine addiction while incarcerated and on supervised release.  The judge noted that VANDERWEL’s girlfriend suffered an “extended period of hell on earth…” with VANDERWEL assaulting her, “threatening to push her off a cliff and slash her throat.”

            According to records filed in the case, during the week of September 20, 2014, VANDERWEL repeatedly assaulted and threatened his girlfriend.  The assaults included strangling her, hitting her with a metal pipe, throwing knives and lamps at her, and threatening to kill her and burn the house down with her small children inside.  VANDERWEL kept the woman captive in the home, not allowing her to use the phone or go to work. 

          VANDERWEL was arrested by Tulalip Tribal Police, and the case was originally prosecuted as part of a pilot project authorized by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013).  The Tulalip Tribes of Washington is one of the first Tribes in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over certain domestic violence crimes, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status.

          The case was investigated by the Tulalip Tribal Police.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ye-Ting Woo and Rebecca Cohen and by Special Assistant United States Attorney Sharon Jones Hayden.  Ms. Hayden is a Tulalip Tribal Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute cases in federal court.

Updated April 15, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime