Georgia Gunzer was denied a protection order against her ex-boyfriend three months before he allegedly stabbed her to death while their daughter held a slumber party in the living room.
Pierce County prosecutors on Monday filed a first-degree murder count against 35-year-old Alphonso Albert Bell, and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf at an arraignment.
Court Commissioner Patrick Oishi ordered Bell jailed on $2 million bail.
“I feel very strongly that our system failed her,” said Cydney Marckmann, the victim’s friend. “She was trying to do everything the right way and was shut down.”
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Tacoma police say Gunzer, 33, met Bell somewhere Friday night and they returned together to her apartment on South 50th Street.
Officers went to check on her after Bell called 911 Saturday morning and told dispatchers he “thought he had hurt his girlfriend real bad,” according to court documents.
Police arrived about 7:30 a.m. and found the couple’s 10-year-old daughter and several of her friends sleeping in the living room.
The girl told officers her parents had arrived at the apartment about 3 a.m. and she had heard them arguing for a while. She knocked on Gunzer’s bedroom door at least once to quiet them down so the girls could sleep, documents show.
The girl thought her parents were in Gunzer’s bedroom but the door was locked. She was able to jimmy the lock for officers and immediately saw her mother lying on the floor covered in blood.
Detectives believe Gunzer was stabbed at least 20 times in the chest and neck. The murder weapon has not been found.
Bell was arrested near Tacoma General Hospital shortly after calling 911. He had blood on his clothes and money, and had a laceration on his right knuckle, documents show.
In a protection order Gunzer sought in October, she alleged Bell had been repeatedly calling her cell phone and harassing her. She also said she previously had a protection order against him in Thurston County.
“This person has in the past made threatening remarks and has put his hands on me numerous times,” Gunzer wrote.
Commissioner Mark Gelman denied the protection order after reading a letter from a state Department of Corrections employee that said Gunzer had been to visit Bell at least six times while he was jailed in Kitsap County.
The victim’s friends and family members packed the courtroom Monday to see Bell arraigned.
A memorial in her honor sits inside Sound Family Medicine in Puyallup, where Gunzer worked for two years as a medical assistant. Co-workers nicknamed Gunzer “Giggles” and “Positive Penelope” because she was always happy.
“Georgia was the most kind, giving, loving individual,” Marckmann said. “She was funny and liked to make other people laugh. She was always positive – that’s the thing that sticks with me the most.”