Nearly three weeks after her disappearance and presumed murder, Gail Doyle’s family members just want to bring their beloved mother, sister and aunt home.
“The best case right now would be for us to bring Gail home and bury her,” said Dorothy Cook Nicholson, Doyle’s sister.
“She deserves that. She doesn’t deserve to be wherever she’s at right now, whether it be in the woods or the garbage pile.”
Doyle, a 60-year-old Olympia woman, hasn’t been located by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Tim Rudloff said deputies are still searching for Doyle’s remains in a remote landfill outside of Thurston County.
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He said the search could stretch into next week because of the volume of debris at the site.
Cook Nicholson was among about 20 friends and family members who attended a Thurston County Superior Court hearing Tuesday for James E. Stidd. Appearing in court via video, Stidd, 66, pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon, four counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, and one count of tampering with physical evidence.
Thurston County prosecutors said they will seek exceptional sentences for the murder and evidence tampering charges, based on Stidd’s deliberate cruelty toward Doyle, his lack of remorse, the level of bodily harm they believe Doyle suffered, and their belief that the presumptive sentence is too lenient, according to court documents.
Documents filed in court Monday confirmed that DNA found on a hammer found in Stidd’s garage most likely belonged to Doyle.
Stidd remains in the Thurston County Jail, with bail set at $2 million. A warrant for his arrest was issued June 8 after detectives found blood splatter and strands of blond hair around a blood-covered hammer in Stidd’s garage, according to court documents.
At a June 10 hearing, Judge Erik Price determined that based on his finances, Stidd was not eligible for a court-appointed attorney. But by Tuesday, Stidd still hadn’t hired a private attorney.
His trial is scheduled for Aug. 15.
Stidd and Doyle were seen arguing at an Olympia tavern the night of June 2. The two left together, and Stidd told detectives that he dropped Doyle off on Martin Way.
Doyle’s family described her as a fun-loving, carefree, nurturing woman. Nephew Ryan Berlin described her as the family matriarch and “party-triarch,” as she was the frequent host of family gatherings.
“She always made sure that everyone had family things to go to, parties and functions,” Berlin said. “We had a lot of barbecues at her house. She would push to make sure people had Easter dinner at her house, or Thanksgiving. She would have 20 family members, and the rest of the people would be friends, or friends of friends.”
Berlin said he’s been on the receiving end of Doyle’s generosity several times, especially when he was in his 20s. Doyle always made sure that he was well fed and that he had a place to stay.
Doyle spent a lot of time with her grandchildren, who called her Nanu, Berlin said.
During the summer, she frequently visited the family’s property in rural Snohomish County. There, friends and family would play horseshoes and spend time together.
“She was amazing at it, the queen of horseshoes,” Berlin said. “Nobody could beat her.”
Cook Nicholson said she and Doyle had already made plans to spend much of their summer at the property.
“We had a lot of plans for this summer,” Cook Nicholson said. “It’s sad to think that it will never happen.”