"How I got into trouble."
by
Karlyn Eklof


I, Karlyn Eklof, am writing of my pain and anguish in remembering the role of one John Distabile as a chief witness in my murder trial of 1995. I was convicted of crimes committed by Jeffrey Tiner who murdered James Salmu in 1993, in Springfield, Oregon. I am serving two life sentences at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon.   Jeffrey Tiner was recently granted a new trial for the crimes that put him on death row. 

Herein I will again express my bewilderment that this man, John Distabile, who led me in his devious ways into a meeting with Jeffrey Tiner a few weeks before the crime, has continued to testify against me. in Brady violation at the time of my trial, and again during the trial of Tiner in the year 2000. 

The Brady violations of his testimony, his records being prohibited by his attorney through John Hugi, the prosecuting DA and that of one Al Hope, known at the time to be molesting his child, as well as the testimonies of forensic and psychiatric professionals contrary to documentation, were held to be in procedural default when I was finally granted
federal habeas corpus. There was no way I could have known of these violations until they were discovered during Tiner’s trial, forwarded to a friend of mine, and denied acceptance by my PC attorneys. 

Recent appeals for a new trial have uncovered two new Brady violations,  which have significant relevance to what Distabile and Tiner’s brother, Dave, were feeding to the questioners, chiefly one Cap. Jerry Smith, during my illegal 9-day interrogation, and also the finding that instructions to the jury before my conviction were incorrect. I have to remember that the State wanted me dead. Nothing short of lethal injection. The jurors voted against it. Because the incorrect sentencing gave me all of Tiner’s crimes. I have to live with that. 

The nightmare of those events and the ensuing 18-20 years of incarceration lead me to look once again at the entrapment of one John Distabile. I recall, therefore, these facts:

John Distabile came around to visit while I, a homeless mom with three children, was sharing the house of James Salmu. James had taken us in at Christmas time, no questions asked. I had probably met both of them while cashiering at a local tavern. Totally clueless about date-rape drugs but wanting friends, I became a statistic in John’s agenda. as he and his friend, Patrick Welsh, filled in some of my lonely afternoon hours experimenting with my tolerance and reactions to the drugs. In remembering, long after the damage is done, I can barely hold my head up; while writing this I’m having difficulty holding back the tears. 

On the outside, John was probably a regular 9-to-5 customer-service-type guy, but meanwhile he was syphoning away my self esteem by talking to me about starting up a sole proprietorship business. The frequency of his visits led me to think I was finally getting the training, the breaks I would need toward financial gain in a reputable business: positive conversations, envisioning new projects, how and where to get started, who to contact, licenses, permit, location, etc. With my inexperience and background, I was easy prey. I also didn’t realize what was happening to me as we shared an afternoon drink together. sometimes with Patrick. 

It wasn’t difficult for one, such as I am, to be persuaded that these new friends were guardian angels with good intensions to help a young family out of welfare and into a career. Meanwhile Distabile must have discovered that I was extremely susceptible to date-rate drugs. Repronal disguised in a Murine Eye Drop container was John’s favorite stage tool: rendering a woman in a helpless blackout of memory. The excitement of being chosen to aid in John's new business overshadowed a nudge of concern about time lost and a feeling of anxiety.

One day, after visiting with John and Patrick, and returning from a trip after a 6-pack, I had an unbearably uncomfortable feeling on my backside. Withdrawing, I discovered in the mirror an inflamed handprint there. This time I knew something was happening to me and confronted them angrily: “What the hell has been going on? Who did this to me?” It must have been a spider, John assured me. 

This was probably enough, though I still thought I was missing out on some great future. I was making up with my previous boyfriend I had left the Christmas before, however, and began to move away from this worrisome company. Soon I was responding to Dennis Heide’s promise to take me to San Diego to see my family, and perhaps to get married. I accepted his proposal.

I don’t tell this story easily. At each step I wonder: how could I be so dumb? A few days later as I was preparing to leave the house with my kids, I looked up and saw a guy walking toward me. Suddenly John pulled up in his truck and reprimanded the guy. I heard John say, “You never touch this one. I didn’t send you here. Leave now. We will talk later.” So weird. So stupid that I didn’t catch on. I had been trafficked, and I still didn’t know it.

Dennis and I scheduled our trip. He had money to spend and I wanted in on it. We arranged with Salmu and two girlfriends to look after the children. Before we set off, Patrick let Dennis know he was homesick and would like to go with us. Dennis, being a pushover, agreed. I didn’t even sit with them on the plane, which was weird. The stewardess brought us champagne, but asked me if everything was alright, a red flag I missed. I still don’t know why Dennis went along with this.

At the airport I noticed a man standing at the bar staring at me. Patrick turned us towards his friend Willy and asked: would you like to go to our house to party—Patrick’s way of thanking us for the ride home. And there we were in a house located in Imperial Beach. The garage had a keg of beer on tap and motorcycles scattered around. 

The beer was the first and last thing I remember as I woke up on the couch in the living room eight hours later. Patrick and Dennis walked up the driveway just moments before. It is important to interject here that this is when Tiner entered the picture. He’s the guy who woke me up from the couch. I was embarrassed because I thought I had just fallen asleep. 

I don’t know what I thought. I could only be angry at Dennis because he had gone away with Patrick and abandoned me for all that length of time. Dennis and I broke up that night. I was furious that he took off and never even told me. Had he shared his intention to leave me alone I would not have allowed that: we came together; we stay together; we leave together! In my clueless ignorance I forced him away from me, not realizing I just handed myself to a hungry pack of wolves in trafficking. There followed a long weekend wherein I was subjected to a whirlwind of new faces claiming to be guardians. I trusted Patrick to make sure I got back home to James, my roommate, and my kids. I still have nightmares about putting on a good face and being the victim of false assurances, cameras, and my own determination to assert that I was in control of my unhappy choices. 

Shortly following our return home Tiner arrived in Springfield as a weekend guest, enthusiastic about business opportunities, for example, starting a Tow Truck Service like Willy’s. John and Tiner made out like new friends, though I later learned through Willy during that first horrible year after the murder that John had lots of friends in Imperial Beach, including Tiner. I could only uphold what these guys were saying; I had no other direction to go. 

I can’t go on with this story. Because it’s no longer my story. It’s all been told over and over again by John Distabile (also known as “Spider”),  Patrick Walsh ( “Potato”), and their new friend Al Hope, whose crimes were hidden from the defense during my trial so that the prosecution could use their stories to convict me: I murdered my friend James Salmu; I bought the gun from Al Hope which killed him; I contrived to murder James Salmu because he was a child predator who preyed upon my children! Let’s not forget Tiner himself: he told his brother Dave I stabbed Salmu with a kitchen knife to put him out of his misery, which, to please the prosecution, Distabile quoted me saying that in exchange for hiding his crimes from the defense.  And Dave escalated his story for the prosecution because he also had a criminal record. 

Now you tell me whose story is true. Jerry Smith and Fred Hugi have made a career of creating preposterous stories to convict women who are serving life sentences for crimes committed by their partners or have otherwise been railroaded by false evidence and inciting the media.  In this space, we can’t go into the hopelessness of one’s appeals once their deed is .0done. My public defender washed his hands. He wouldn’t defend me. 

This is my story. Would you please weigh my story against that of John Distabile, Dave Tiner, Al Hope,, Jerry Smith, and Fred Hugi.

Submitted by,


Karlyn Eklof #11054880
Coffee Creek Correctional Facility
24499 S. W Graham’s Ferry Rd.
Wilsonville, OR 97070