‘Don’t cry, don’t cry,’ is what this grandmother thought while protecting her grandchild during a violent attack
The doorbell rang at about 8 a.m.
That was odd. A sign over the bell discouraged visitors from ringing to avoid disturbing napping children in the house.
It was too early for FedEx, Chelsea Larsen thought to herself as she opened the front door.
No one was there.
As she glanced down the street, her eyes locked on something unexpected: Evan Bashir’s Dodge Durango. He was the 29-year-old man her younger sister, Kymberlee “Kym” Larsen, 22, had left less than a week earlier — after he put his hands around her throat.
Chelsea Larsen, a 27-year-old mother of two little girls, 1 and 3, immediately sensed danger.
She went to the back door to lock it. She had just got a bar into the sliding-glass door when she saw Bashir. He yelled through the door that he wanted to talk to Kym, who was in a bedroom with their 3-month-old son, Donovan.
“I didn’t see a weapon,” Chelsea Larsen recalled in an interview last week about the March 27 attack in which Kym was killed, and she and her mother, JuliAnna “Juli” Flowers, 57, were hospitalized with critical injuries .
But Bashir was armed that morning.
After smashing through the glass door, he went on a murderous rampage with a 15-inch serrated machete and fillet knife. He slashed the three women as they tried to protect each other and the three young children in the house.
As she lay dying, Kym wanted only to know that her baby was safe.
“They told her ‘Yes, he is,’ and then she died,” said Flowers, who believes that Bashir intended to kill the baby to punish his mother for leaving him.
Bashir was shot by police and died at the scene.
Kym’s eldest sister, Jade Warren, 35, who was like a second mother to Kym and unable to have children of her own, is now raising Donovan. He’s a happy-go-lucky baby who loves cuddling.
“He definitely knows we’re all wrapped around his little finger,” Warren said.
Make a safety plan
Chelsea Larsen and her mother say they are survivors, not victims. They want to share their story to help others be safe and raise awareness about community groups and resources, such as the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, Faces of Hope Victim Center and Nampa Justice Center.
“We would like our situation to bring an awareness of (domestic violence) and take it seriously, and help anybody you know of to get out of a situation,” Flowers told the Statesman.
Bea Black, director of the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in Boise, urges anyone who is being abused or is concerned about their safety to call the group’s 24-hour hotline: 208-343-7025. She recommends that callers also meet with staff to make a personalized safety plan, which includes an assessment of risk of harm.
Predicting behavior is difficult, but a study of fatal domestic violence incidents in Idaho found a few indicators that were associated with higher risk of death: previous domestic violence (including forced sex, attempted strangulation or physical abuse during pregnancy); recent separation from the relationship or from a job; and extreme possessiveness or stalking.
Kym Larsen is one of at least 10 domestic violence fatalities in Idaho so far this year, according the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence.
Annual domestic violence fatalities over the past decade have ranged from a low of six in 2015 to a high of 23 in 2007.
This year, seven deaths have come in just the past six weeks, including a suspected murder-suicide in Meridian that happened over the Fourth of July holiday. Police believe Daniel Jonathan “Skyler” Cobb, 46, shot to death Crystal Wilson, 36, and then turned the gun on himself.
Police calls to domestic violence incidents of all types in fast-growing Meridian have risen almost 40 percent over the past five years, increasing from 718 in 2012 to 1,004 in 2017; felony offenses within that doubled from 21 to 45.
“The summer months, if you look at the (statewide) data, seem to be higher,” said Kelly Miller, executive director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. She said perpetrators are also included in the fatality data because they are human beings and “every life is of value.”
Most of those killed in domestic violence in Idaho are shot, Miller said. In a state where so many people have guns, ownership itself is not considered a risk factor — but the movement of a gun is.
“Has the weapon been moved from storage to a living room coffee table?” Miller said. In one case in Canyon County years ago, an abuser put a weapon in a baby’s crib.
“The movement of that weapon is sending a clear message,” Miller said. “Most survivors know. They understand the complexities of their relationships and the messages they’re being given.”
Groups such as the WCA provide 911 phones — programmed to call emergency personnel — for those who want them. Anyone who believes they are in imminent danger should contact local law enforcement about their concerns to find out what additional safety measures can be taken.
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office has a tool called the SCOUT Alarm, according to sheriff’s spokesman Patrick Orr. The device is installed in a person’s home, and if activated will send an alert directly to police radios. Patrol teams are made aware of active SCOUT alarms at their briefings.
“It’s all designed to create the fastest response possible,” Orr said, noting that the office has five of those alarms.
No time to call for help
Chelsea Larsen and her mom said they were under siege so suddenly and unexpectedly on March 27 that they weren’t able to call 911. Bashir struck them both in the head with the machete at the start, leaving them dazed.
The women were bleeding profusely from those wounds and others. Chelsea’s right hand was so damaged that she was unable to operate her husband’s shotgun, which police found on a bedroom floor in a pool of blood.
“My hand had a complete chunk missing out of it ... It wasn’t working properly to turn the lock,” she said of her palm.
Chelsea was able to run out of the house to pound on the doors of at least two neighbors. Kym also got out of the house, but Bashir continued assaulting her. A neighbor told police that he saw a man with a machete repeatedly hitting a woman with it; he said he ran in his house to get his gun but then decided to call 911, according to the police report.
Worried for the safety of the children, Kym and Chelsea were able to get away from Bashir and get back into the house after he got distracted by a neighbor who yelled at him to stop. Chelsea got her two children out of the house through a bedroom window, and they were taken to a neighbor’s house. The children were not physically injured.
In hindsight, the women realized there were things around the house that they could have grabbed, such as a bat, to use.
“We’ve thought of a million things we could have done differently ... It just happened quick,” Flowers said.
Most dangerous time
The most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship is often right right after they leave their abuser, according to domestic violence experts. Bashir killed Kym less than a week after she left him.
Kym was a 2014 graduate of Frank Church High School in Boise. Bashir was a student at Boise State on and off from the summer of 2006 to the summer of 2015, earning an associate of arts degree in 2015, a university official told the Statesman.
They met in the spring of 2017 and hit it off, her family said. They described Bashir as artsy, quirky, well-dressed and polite, and Kym as a gentle, free-spirited hippie who was interested in learning massage therapy, Reiki and hands-on healing.
“They just connected,” her mom said. She became pregnant early in their romance, and he was supportive throughout.
“He was there (at the birth) the whole time; I was there as well,” Chelsea Larsen said. “He was there and actually really surprised me with how well he did with her during labor. We actually were impressed.”
When he was around Larsen’s family, Bashir appeared to be helpful and a good partner. They saw him change the baby’s diaper and take him for walks.
But they also had concerns. He had trouble holding down a job.
“He was a drinker a bit, and that worried me,” Flowers said. Alcohol or drug use by abusers is associated with higher risk of danger for their victims, domestic violence experts say.
The couple had been living together in a fifth wheel in Meridian for about six months; they had planned to go see the world together before she got pregnant.
On or about March 22, five days before the murder, Kym told her family that Bashir was verbally and physically abusive with her after he’d spent a night out and saw text messages she had exchanged with her family about him.
“She said he had his hands on her throat one morning. That was the day we took her out,” her mother said. “That was the only time I know of that he put hands on her.”
That same day, Warren went to move her sister and the baby from the RV in Meridian to Chelsea’s house in Nampa. Their brother, Ben Carrillo, 33, went back a couple of days later to get her clothes and other belongings.
They thought she was safe with them.
“We thought, just in the family, OK, here was a red flag, and we acted,” Warren said. “But it wasn’t enough. We thought it was sufficient.”
During the attack, baby Donovan lay on a bed waiting for someone to finish changing his diaper.
At one point, his grandmother dragged herself into the room with him — her left knee was slashed open — and sat with her back pressed against the door and uninjured leg pressed against a wall. She prayed that the baby would not cry, drawing Bashir’s attention.
Mortally wounded, Kym called out to her mother for help. She couldn’t breathe.
Flowers instinctively tried to get up to go help her. She couldn’t.
“My knee literally fell out of my leg because he had cut through my knee cap,” she said. “So there was nothing holding it in ... At that point, I went, ‘I’m going to bleed to death in this room.’”
First responders worked fast to stabilize her. She was hospitalized for two weeks and needed three months of physical therapy. She’s partially blind in her left eye due to a detached retina, and she had more than 20 stitches in her head.
Flowers said she’s only beginning to grieve the loss of the youngest of her five children. She was very close to Kym — singing karaoke was one of their favorite things to do together.
“It’s just starting to sink in that she’s gone,” Flowers said. “Grief is a weird thing. You cry randomly, and then the rest of the time you have this deep, dark, despair feeling.”
Reports about the stabbing of nine people at a Boise apartment complex on June 30 were traumatizing, Flowers said.
“We sympathize with them and are sorry that this happened to them, too,” she said. “It was almost as if I could feel their injuries.”
Her whole family is in counseling . Chelsea Larsen said she and her husband are renovating and “healing” the house where the attack occurred; they had purchased its just weeks before the attack. They planted a doughnut peach tree in the front yard in memory of Kym.
The family plans to hold a “KymFest” every year, a celebration of Kym’s life and possibly a fundraiser to benefit local groups that provide support to domestic violence survivors. They have said they’re so grateful for the help they received from friends and the community, including donations of clothes and meals, that they want to pay it forward.
They all take joy in Donovan.
“We’re very thankful and grateful to have little Donovan — and a little piece of Kym that she left behind for us — because we miss her so much,” Flowers said.
Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413
Whom to call
Women’s and Children’s Alliance: 208-343-7025 (24-hour crisis line)
FACES Family Justice Center: 208-577-4400
Nampa Family Justice Center: 208-475-5700
Idaho Legal Aid Services: 208-345-0106
Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program: 208-334-4510
Boise State Women’s Center: 208-426-4259
How you can help a victim of abuse
- Focus on the victim, not the abuser or the abuser’s violence. Focusing on the abuser may make the victim have to choose between defending the abuser or criticizing them.
- Avoid “why” questions. “Why” questions can inadvertently feel like blaming. Instead, ask what, if anything, you can do to support them.
- Say “I believe you,” “The abuse is not your fault,” “Thank you for sharing with me,” “I am here for you.”
- Work within the victim’s time frame; know and respect that the victim may not be ready to take actions that you may feel are already overdue.
- Take seriously any concerns about repercussions for contacting law enforcement, family or the courts. The victim knows the abuser best, and what the abuser is likely to do.
- Know that it is normal for a victim to have conflicting emotions: guilt over disclosing the abuse or setting a boundary, shame over being abused, sadness over what may feel like a ‘failed’ relationship, anger at being abused, love for the abuser for when they’re a ‘good parent/ partner/family member.’
- Be resource-oriented. Which of the victim’s concerns might be able to be addressed by friends and/or family? Examples might include: taking in a pet, providing childcare or a ride, giving the victim an old phone to use as a 911 phone.
- Avoid making decisions for the victim. Instead, make decisions with the victim. Allow for the fact that the victim will probably make decisions that you do not agree with.