Some things you can’t unsee, as this Garden Grove PD detective can attest
In April 2005, Officer Steve Heine of the GGPD was on a particularly harrowing and agonizing call.
An armed man had barricaded himself in an apartment with a woman.
The standoff lasted six hours before Heine, then a police officer with another agency, and other officers gained entry.
The suspect’s gun was on the ground.
“We found out he had been raping the woman while he was barricaded inside with her,” said Heine, now a detective assigned to the Crimes Against Persons Unit.
“I literally got home and cried,” said Heine, a former Marine. “Because I’m 50 feet away from someone getting raped and I couldn’t do anything about it. It’s really heartbreaking to see things like this.”
The man was arrested, charged and later convicted. He is serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Heine just concluded another heartbreaking case involving the type of crime that sticks with police officers.
Some things they can never unsee.
And some things they have to see multiple times to make sure justice is served.
They met online in late 2013 on the dating website millionairematch.com, where members claim to earn at least $200,000 per year.
Gary Lee Beavers, then 63, lived near Tampa, Fla., a divorced father of two adult sons. His employment background is in pension accounting and funding.
Beavers’ would-be paramour, a native of Vietnam, was living at the time with her two young children in Anaheim.
The two met in person in February 2014, at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney.
The woman, a 39-year-old single mother who worked long hours, brought her daughter, 7, and son, 5 to the dinner.
As the relationship developed, Beavers would fly out to Orange County and stay in hotels in Anaheim and Garden Grove, Heine said.
He would lavish gifts on the woman’s children, and allow them to do things their mom might not like them to do, Heine said.
One of those activities was taking a bath together.
“They would call it ‘floating’ in the tub,” Heine said.
At some point, Beavers took video and pictures of the young siblings in the bathtub, Heine said.
“That caused some contention between (Beavers and the kids’ mother),” Heine said.
Not enough, however, to immediately sour the relationship.
In late April 2014, Beavers helped the mother with rent so she and her children could move into a home in Garden Grove.
When staying in O.C. hotels, Beavers often would take care of the siblings while their mother worked.
“He would routinely be naked in front of the kids,” Heine said. “When the mom questioned it, he told them this is how American families interact in private.”
She questioned his behavior, Heine said, but Beavers continued to insist that being a nudist was normal.
Soon, the mother began to suspect that Beavers was taking more pictures and videos of her kids.
In mid-July 2014, Beavers came to O.C. for a visit. Sometime during that visit, the mother found a video of her children taking a bath on Beavers’ iPhone.
The video includes graphic images of the girl and a brief graphic image of a nude Beavers.
The mother used her phone to record Beavers’ video, Heine said.
Instead of going to the police, however, she took that video to a private attorney to see if she could sue Beavers.
“He advised her to go to the police, but she didn’t feel there was enough evidence to have him arrested,” Heine said.
On Aug. 5, Beavers returned to Orange County for what would be his last visit with the mother and her children.
Around 10 p.m. on Aug. 5, the mother returned home.
Beavers and her children were asleep.
She gained access to his iPad and found two videos.
One is about 17 minutes and the other is about 35 minutes. They contain graphic images of the crimes to which Beavers later would be accused of carrying out.
The mother called the GGPD and patrol officers responded to the home.
Heine was awoken around 3 a.m. on Aug. 6 with a phone call. He was assigned as lead investigator on the case, working alongside Det. John Maciel (now an investigator with the OCDA) and Cpl. Aaron Nelson.
Wednesday, Aug. 6, was long and brutal.
Heine was watching from behind the darkened side of a one-way mirror as social workers interviewed the siblings.
During the interview, the 7-year-old girl corroborated what the mother saw in the two videos.
Heine questioned Beavers, who had voluntarily come in to the GGPD.
“His explanation for the whole thing was the girl wanted him to kiss her in different places and that this was the girl’s idea for this to happen,” Heine said.
“He more or less admitted to the behavior (in the video), but said it wasn’t for his own sexual gratification.”
Of course, Heine had to watch the disturbing videos.
“I’m a tough guy,” Heine said, “but stuff like that flat-out breaks your heart. It’s heartbreaking to see that stuff happen, and being able to contain (my emotions) is difficult, but it’s what we’re supposed to do as police officers.”
At one point during his interrogation of Beavers, Heine told him he was going to go home and cry because of the disturbing content he had to see in the videos.
“I can discuss these things with you and try to make you understand, but you’re not going to understand,” Beavers told Heine.
Beavers was arrested that day and held in lieu of $1 million bail. Prosecutors were able to get bail bumped up to $2 million, which kept Beavers behind bars.
After going through several defense attorneys, Beavers decided to represent himself at trial.
The trial lasted nearly two weeks.
Some of Beavers’ defense was that the GGPD mishandled evidence.
“He tried to intimate that we altered the evidence, that we grossly mishandled the investigation,” Heine said.
Beavers also claimed to have taken a sleeping pill on Aug. 5. In the videos, he is seen drinking red and white wine. He asserted to jurors that he essentially was drugged and didn’t know what was going on.
Jurors didn’t buy it.
On Sept. 28, they convicted Beavers of seven felony counts including oral copulation and sexual penetration of a child under 10, lewd or lascivious act on a minor under 14, using an underage person for obscene matter, and possession of child pornography.
Beavers, now 67, faces a maximum sentence of 105 years to life.
Sentencing is set for Dec. 8.
Heine praised the work of prosecutor Alexa Elliott, a deputy district attorney with the OCDA.
“She did an outstanding job,” said Heine, who has worked with Elliott on several cases.
Heine noted that because he represented himself at trial, Beavers was able to view the videos through discovery.
When the videos were played in court, Beavers stared at the monitor.
Some jurors wept during the footage.
During the investigation, Heine had to watch the videos numerous times.
“Each time,” he said, “it takes something out of you.”
Heine said he regrets that jurors had to see the videos, even though they were the crux of the case against Beavers.
“I feel bad for them because, for the most part, I’m mentally equipped (to handle it),” Heine said. “But these are lay people.”
Heine said people looking for love — especially single mothers with children — need to be vigilant.
He cited a statistic that children are more than 20 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by a boyfriend of their mother, or a new spouse, than by another relative or stranger.
“At the end of the day,” Heine said, “you need to be highly cautious of who you are meeting, what their intentions are, and when you introduce your kids into the mix when you are dating.”
Beavers used his charm to groom the mother and her children, Heine said.
His investigation, he added, showed that Beavers most likely victimized children elsewhere.
Until his arrest on Aug. 6, 2014 Beavers had no criminal record.
Something of a jet-setter, Beavers was scheduled to fly to Greece the day after he was arrested.
He said if Beavers never had returned to Orange County on Aug. 5, 2014, he likely would be roaming free.
His relationship with the victims’ mother had become strained, but his desire to obtain a video memorialization of him having sexual contact with the girl apparently was too strong to resist.
“This was his last opportunity to obtain a ‘trophy,’” Heine said. “He got his trophy, and that’s what did him in.”