A `DECENT KID' FOUND LOTS OF TROUBLE
NEIGHBORS RECALL SLAYING SUSPECT'S YOUTH
As a youngster on Mercer Island, George Waterfield Russell was known to his neighbors as a charming, handsome mischief-maker who always had a smile but needed to be watched.
``I don't remember ever seeing George unless the police were there," said one neighbor. ``He always seemed to be under surveillance."
Said another: ``But he was a neat little guy, always with a smile. I pray what they say about him now isn't true."
A King County Superior Court jury will decide if it is.
This morning, Russell, 32 ((age)), will be arraigned on first-degree murder charges in the slaying of a Redmond woman last summer.
County prosecutors say Russell raped and bludgeoned to death Mary Ann Pohlreich, 28, after she left a Bellevue restaurant with Russell on June 22.
Pohlreich's nude body was found the next day behind a trash container at a restaurant east of Bellevue.
King County police have described Russell as a suspect and ``person of interest" in two other Eastside killings.
He has been in King County Jail since September, when he was picked up on a parole violation. The violation stemmed from a series of relatively minor incidents, including criminal trespass.
Mercer Island District Court records show Russell was crosswise with the law through most of the 1980s. His convictions range from negligent driving and driving while his license was suspended to third-degree theft and simple assault.
Neighbors recalled that Russell was in and out of trouble even before dropping out of Mercer Island High School as a junior in March 1975.
Sgt. Jim Myers of the Mercer Island Police Department said Russell's police record went back to his early teens. Most of the infractions were minor, he said.
``Usually he was a loner," Myers said. ``He associated with a lot of kids, but when he was involved with police, generally it was an act on his own rather than a group activity."
``It was a lot of little things," a neighbor said. The skis that disappeared from a neighbor's garage. The time he was caught sleeping in a neighbor's boat. The time he broke into a vacant house up the block and spent the ***. The times he was arrested for just breaking and entering and taking not much of anything.
``You'd walk in, and there he'd be," a neighbor said.
Russell also prowled cars and got caught. He got caught with marijuana. He wound up in *** and got arrested.
But some neighbors saw him mainly as a nice, sunny kid.
``Some years ago, George even took care of his baby stepbrother while his mother went to work," one said. ``But something went wrong. He dropped out of school and started to get into real trouble."
Another neighbor described Russell as ``incorrigible but, oh, not a murderer, certainly."
``He has such a very lovely family, he really does, and I know if this is true, it will hurt them terribly."
Russell is the stepson of Dr. Wonzel Mobley, a prominent dentist who practices in Seattle but resides with his family on Mercer Island.
As a child, Russell remained with his stepfather after Mobley and Russell's mother divorced and she moved to the East Coast, neighbors said.
``We have nothing to say about any of this," Mobley's wife, Kristen, said yesterday. ``We haven't seen George in 21/2 years.
``This is very difficult. Please get your information from the police."
Except to note his withdrawal on March 1, 1975, Russell's high school records don't suggest problems.
Neighbors remembered him as part of the junior high school crowd and as appearing to develop numerous allies.
``Yeah, I remember Georgie Russell," said Ben Wolfe, a Mercer Island educator who was an assistant principal during Russell's years at North Mercer Junior High School.
Wolfe handled most disciplinary cases. ``But I don't connect George Russell with trouble of any kind," he said. ``As I recall, he was a pretty decent kid."