January 16th, 1984 – September 23rd, 2002
Rachel was a beautiful, funny, loving, giving, spiritual young woman who faced her death with dignity and courage. She never forgot a birthday, frequently wrote cards telling people she loved them and organized baby showers for work acquaintances she barely knew.
As a gregarious teenager, she made friends easily — on the Tulalip reservation where she lived, at high school, work and parties, her father said. “She had so many social groups and such a big social network, I couldn’t keep up,” her father said. “I was just her answering machine.”
On Sept. 23, 2002, 18-year-old Rachel Burkheimer was murdered by a group of men and buried in a field in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, east of Everett, Washington. Rachel was murdered by her ex-boyfriend and 7 accomplices. The ex-girlfriend of one of the accomplices saw a bloodied and beaten Rachel in her garage, but failed to call 911.
According to court documents, Burkheimer was lured to a south Everett-area duplex, then tied up and beaten in the garage. When the woman who owned the duplex complained, Burkheimer was stuffed inside a large bag and carried out to a waiting vehicle. The teen was then driven to the Cascade Mountain foothills near Gold Bar, where she was forced into a grave and shot repeatedly. One man repeatedly shot Burkheimer in a crime that inspired by a mix of jealousy and gang-inspired paranoia. After several trials, eight people were convicted of crimes related to Rachel’s kidnapping and killing. Two wound up with life prison terms. Most of the rest are serving decades behind bars.
Families and Friends got involved when the horrific crime first happened. Advocates from FAMILY AND FRIENDS attended these trials for months to give support to the family, making several trips to Olympia to help the Burkheimer family get bill SHB 1236 passed. This bill makes it a misdemeanor offense for failing to summon assistance for a person that has suffered substantial bodily harm.
Advocates continued to help Rachel’s parents through support groups. Rachel’s death is still shocking to our community and everyone at Families and Friends will always remember her.