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July 22, 2014

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Ruth Coe, Mother of Notorious Rapist, Dies At 75

Coe, the mother of convicted "South Hill rapist" Kevin Coe, died last week in Henderson, Nev., where she lived. She had suffered from emphysema and other illnesses for several years.

Their case was the subject of a best-selling book, "Son," by true-crime writer Jack Olsen.

Kevin Coe was convicted in 1981 of four counts of rape after Spokane's fashionable South Hill neighborhood suffered through a three-year series of more than 30 sexual assaults.

Three of his convictions were overturned, and he is scheduled for release in 2006 from the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. He did not ask to attend his mother's funeral, a prison official told the Spokesman-Review newspaper.

During his rape trial, Ruth Coe offered several alibis for her son, saying he was with her when three of the assaults took place.

After his conviction, police said, Ruth Coe agreed to pay an undercover officer $4,000 to kill then-Superior Court Judge George Shields and then-Spokane County Prosecutor Donald Brockett, who handled Kevin Coe's case.

At her sentencing, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Robert Bibb compared her case to a Greek tragedy - a play built around "a catastrophe, a vengeance and a judgment of the avenger," with characters flawed by "anger, hate and the desire for revenge."

She served most of her year-long sentence on work-release.

She moved to Nevada after her conviction with her husband, Gordon Coe, former managing editor of the Spokane Chronicle newspaper.

Ruth Coe, a Spokane native, was diagnosed in 1973 as manic-depressive. She took lithium carbonate and other drugs, which served as her defense in her murder-for-hire trial.

"Ruth Coe was a very dutiful and loving mother," said her defense attorney, Carl Maxey. "I am real sorry to hear of her passing."

Attorney George Conrad, who was an intern for Maxey during the Coe case, said he remembered Ruth Coe's tireless defense of her family.

"It was hard for her - devastated her - to watch what was happening, what her son was being convicted of," Conrad said. "It broke her."

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