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Jekyll and Hyde Profiles of Suspected Salon Killer

Longtime friends of Scott Dekraai say he was an endearing sportfishing captain until a gruesome accident turned him into "a ghost of who he was." Neighbors call him friendly and considerate.

When longtime friends of Scotty Dekraai saw him being hauled away by police on TV Wednesday, they scarcely recognized him at first.

Gone was the fit and endearing Wilson High grad who fished the local waterfront and worked port docks. In his place stood a disheveled, aged, perhaps bloated figure, accused of gunning down his ex-wife and eight others at a Seal Beach hair salon.

Interviewed late Wednesday, friends and a former boss recalled the old Dekraai as a passionate sportfishing captain who worked waterfront jobs so dirty and demanding that you had to love fishing and the ocean to do them. But it was on the water, they said, that the seeds of Wednesday's unfathomable destruction might have been sown.

In 2007, Dekraai was involved in a gruesome tugboat accident that killed deckhand Piper Cameron -- cutting her in two as Dekraai tried to save her -- and nearly severed Dekraai's legs, according to friends and news accounts.

"I saw him two years later, and he was like a ghost of who he was," a former co-worker recalled.

Another friend said Dekraai "was just never the same after the accident. It physically destroyed him ... and it emotionally devastated him. Piper was like his little sister ... and he could not save her."

Aside from family, nobody knew Dekraai--an embattled, thrice-married father so disabled he needed a caretaker--longer than Don Ashley. Widely known among anglers as the owner of the Pierpoint Landing charter operation, Ashley had gone to Rogers Middle School and Wilson High with Scotty's parents.

When Scotty was a young teen, Ashley put him to work on the docks of his charter business. After graduating Wilson High, class of 1987, Scotty rose to 2nd captain--meaning he ran the vessel sometimes--and delighted customers and crew. "You could just tell how much he loved what he was doing," said one friend.

In an odd twist of fate, when Ashley lived on 14th Street in Seal Beach, one of his neighbors was the woman who would eventually become Dekraai's second wife.

"Hey, I married your former neighbor Michelle," Dekraai told Ashley years later, when the two men bumped into each other after a long absence.

Michelle was six years older than Dekraai and already had two children when they met. Together they would have a son. But in 2007, not long after the tugboat mishap, Dekraai filed for divorce. The boy became the epicenter of a lingering custody feud some believe sparked Wednesday's shooting.

Passionate, Emotional and Artistic

Megan, a cop who asked that her last name be withheld, was a teenager when she worked beside the avid fisherman everyone knew as Scotty. She said he treated her like a little sister "and my dad like his own, calling and checking on him."

Dekraai was passionate, emotional and artistic -- a painter who did "squidlike" abstracts, she said. He also owned a clothing company called Bendo that made T-shirts "everyone wanted to wear." It was a sideline for seven years, she said.

"He was just a pleasure to be with, to work with," said Megan. When she got into law enforcement about a decade ago and Dekraai went on to commercial and industrial boating, she saw him less frequently.

But her best friend was one of Michelle's salon clients -- until "things got so tense between Scotty and Michelle that she [the friend] went somewhere else. She didn't want to be in the middle of it."

Jekyll and Hyde

One of Michelle's former salon co-workers described him as mean to Michelle -- and odd. She said other salon workers were afraid of Dekraai's anger and temper.

Dekraai's friends said they too witnessed or heard about DeKraai's screaming matches with Michelle.

"When he and Michelle got divorced, it was ugly afterward," Ashley said.

On his street in Huntington Beach, however, Dekraai was considered friendly and thoughtful.

“I just waved at him this morning on my way to work, and he seemed fine,” said DeKraii’s next-door neighbor, Stephanie Malchow. “When I came home, I didn’t know what had happened until I saw police digging through our trash.”

It’s hard to reconcile the image of Orange County’s worst mass murder with the friendly neighbor who shared gardening tips and plants, gave birthday gifts to newborns and joined the Neighborhood Watch program, said Malchow.

“I don’t want people to think he is just an evil monster. He’s a nice guy, but he must have snapped,” she said. “If he was in a custody dispute, that would explain why he snapped. He loves his little boy more than anything else in the world.”

DeKraai doted on his son, playing with him in the front yard and worrying when the boy went to stay with his ex-wife. He spoke bitterly about her to Malchow. He said he didn’t trust her parenting, and complained she did things like drop their son off at school too early in the morning.

“His son is such a sweet little boy and an innocent in all this. It’s so sad to think that he is going to suffer the most out of everyone. He is just a poor kid, not even 9, and his family is gone from him,” said Malchow. “He’ll never be able to get far enough away from all this. He’ll be that kid at school who all the kids point at and say, 'That’s the kid whose dad did that horrible thing.' ”

DeKraai recently married his third wife, Mindy, in the backyard of their Huntington Beach home and invited the neighbors.

Friends said the couple met after his tugboat mishap. Dekraai could not drive immediately afterward, so the company provided a caretaker. He fell in love with her.

After moving to their current neighborhood, the couple quickly became popular for various thoughtful gestures, said Malchow. When DeKraai went fishing, he shared his catch with neighbors. And when Malchow left her garage door open, it was Dekraai who knocked on her door and pointed it out, warning about burglars. Even the succulents lining Malchow’s house are from cuttings DeKraai shared.

“I can’t make sense out of any of this,” said Malchow. “I still think he is a nice guy, but just when you think you know someone, this happens.”

-- Patch columnist Philip Friedman contributed to this story.

Howard A Samms October 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM
you are either in la la land or just attempting to make light of a serious situation
Panglonymous October 14, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Front license plate frame on DeKraai vehicle reads: " Help Save America - www.JoinTheTeaParty.us " The web address redirects to http://www.theteaparty.net/ Source: Photo slideshow on LB Press-Telegram that includes two of DeKraai's truck (#15 & #16 in the series.) http://lang.presstelegram.com/photos/photos.asp?a=1340965#id=1340965&num=0 It's a detail of the backstory, omitted, for the moment at least... == The comment above has been flag-deleted (censored) three times by a reader of this thread. Reader, play fair. This is a legitimate part of the backstory and deserves to be known - just as his ex-military status should be confirmed. Aside from that, the info is now embedded in this Patch "DeKraai Quick Facts" piece: http://patch.com/A-mPTc Thanks
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Ebrat, You are lucky stupid pepole dont get the electric chair. There's no excuse for killing others. So lets put him on the chair and kill the SOB. Your an idiot. Your theroy would have all of our military as well as all our leaders of our country from the begining of our exsistance and a host of others all put on the chair and after you flip the switch, you would then have to sit on it yourself. IDIOT
Karen October 14, 2011 at 12:35 AM
FREE will is what God allows every since the original sin. I am not going to be a part of this drama and or disrespect those who pass NOR JUDGE for the bible does not allow it. However I believe in law and order that is what allows freedom for those who obey the law simply put. The only people presuming this murderer is insane are those who have family members who are bipolar and who experience PTSD and all have stated clearly that they are not allowed to murder. Texas law works well I am a Texan by default and after over 10 years in a state that respects human life, and makes sure the law is followed to the letter I suggest people allowed to murder in mass or serial; I would not be surprised if this man has more history then this public display he currently afflicted the public with. God does know ALL including you who judge the truth thinking your interpretation is that of God I speak of my own experience as a health care professional this person does NOT have a diagnosis or it would be well published here; he is a murderer as his relatives state "he did not get what he wanted so he took those people out..." For those who forgive murder you better hope a group of these individuals don't show up at your public place and take you and yours out because they did not get their way...Think hard and throw it back to the hands of authority laws are there for a reason and there is no cause to spend $80,000 housing this mass murderer the death penalty fits him 100%...
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 12:38 AM
A eye and a tooth is a far stretch from a life, Which he could of said but never does. You can still live without an eye or a tooth
Karen October 14, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Common Sense yes you can and I DID for God created law and order and terrorism which is rampant in countries on a daily basis does not exist here on a regular basis. The inmate did not get his way he not only shot his wife intentionally and yes the bible would consider this abused woman his wife only she would have the power of divorce according to scripture not he who abused her; he then to make his point more overt shot a load of unsuspecting people. Who cares what you think or feel read the WORD as it is written and look to states such as Texas that run their show to respect human life by NOT ALLOWING CRIMINALS to take it. Get it right and learn from this experience he could have poked a hole in your cerebral cortex because of the color of your lipstick and you would have someone here just like the majority is now telling your relatives and the world this is AMERICA we do not allow this!
Karen October 14, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Concerned no sociopaths sell the outside to those who will buy it I sympathize with the bipolar disorder in your family but neither of those family members are murdering people in mass. Remember that if those relatives are treated for a biochemical imbalance they can lead normal lives. Do not sympathize with a murderer who is clearly part of this whole "fallen angel syndrome" God allows free will and until mankind suffers enough of their own will in playing God will this stop, and yes with all the crime lately family related it appears the end times forecast are sooner than many expected. I am far safer in Texas then I would be living in California. Again if this man were mentally ill still not ascertained the readers PRESUME he is we see no reason to believe this in Texas he would be in a mental hospital FOR LIFE with no release period he still killed 8 people and would serve life in a mental institution if not death row for the criminal without mental diagnosis.
tinytom October 14, 2011 at 12:56 AM
This tragic event is a microcosm of how shock events take over the hearts of the people that then become open to change, good or bad.
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 01:08 AM
Karen, I am sorry for you recent lost, but get over it or get help, you are rambaling. For those of you who forgive murder. Dont you know your own God, all loving, all forgiving. His son forgave the murderer hanging next to him on the cross, the prostitue and even the man that sentenced him to death. Leave it to lawenforcement, now thats my profession, 35 years and let me tell you, do you know how many pepole we have put to death on death row, only to find out later that they were innocent. Thats the problem when humans want to play GOD and they think they know what is best for everyone, thats just what this guy did and you want the rest of us to be just as stupid. Karen I am doubting your belief in God and that you are a health care nurse, if so you need to get help with your recent lost, GOD BLESS YOU
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Common Sense-(SO FUNNY) I hate to bust your bubble but yes we do, all of us. Don’t forget that we belong to the animal family and given just the right situation we can all snap and kill for no apparent good reason. The scary thing is that the so called real animals almost never kill, unless for pure survival reasons. But for us the intelligent ones, with free will and all that BS, seem to do it simply for pure satisfaction and self-fulfillment. Now that’s scary
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 02:23 AM
Karen, Paunches Pilot was the law of the land at the time he sentenced your GOD's son to death, knowing he was a good man. So I guess you was all for that. Wait, dont answer, I know that was all in GOD's plan. you religious fanatics, so scary.
Southern Parson October 14, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Joe, sorry but it was a thief on the cross next to Christ and not a murderer. God is willing to forgive anyone who will, with honest remorse, ask for it. Too many people weep because they were caught doing wrong and not because of the wrong they did!
Karen October 14, 2011 at 03:23 AM
Mind your own business Mr. Know it all (nothing) supposed LE I work closely with LE and am not only a licensed professional in health care but a published psychiatric researcher and sir get spell check you moron no there are not many put to DEATH who do not deserve it there are few. Taking innocent lives as this premeditated murder act shows is wrong and states that do not impose the lesson against those taking innocent lives open the door to taking more of God's innocent creations. For you to judge me is against the Word of God you might pick up a King James version and attempt to read it you might get the "retard" version on line or kindergarten level for the more idiots who allow this to occur and not sanction those who destroy lives are also operational with "fallen angels" who were with God and of God the difference being God holds the power. My child is not your business; you idiot~ I am stepping in to advocate for the living the victims who lost loved ones again due to such a heinous criminal act by a moron and sociopath do you think his life is more valued then those of the innocent NEVER. I do not judge or write the Word of the Lord but I can say when a heathen speaks I forsake satan in the name of Jesus Christ and you Mr. Fake LE person are an imposter I do not want any further remarks directed towards me. I have put out medical information for those suffering with bipolar disorder and suggest you get professional help for those who need it.
Karen October 14, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Joe do not respond or write to me again you are NOT LE and are an imposter you cannot even spell do you sit at home and plan what criminal acts you will do to the innocent now do not respond to me again or you will see how licensed I am when I pull charges on you this qualifies and you are so warned.
Karen October 14, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Excellent summation Southern Parson. God also leads us to know that we are sinners since the time of the ORIGINAL SIN but that if we show remorse and also do not repeat the sin with intention we are forgiven. One might look at the death penalty as a method of law and the Word of God allows for obeying the law it is right in the Word of God and the leaders who enforce the laws of the land. I would rather have a safe life in a state that enforces the law so that innocent people are in general protected then to see states who are so liberal that murderers not only get out on good behavior (what actions replace a human life there are none on this earth to do so), only to repeat the crime again in a more vile form. The loss of one life is too much and with intention premeditated. Further the most innocent victim is the young boy losing his mother, and other children who are to be protected who surely lost parents out of the mass deaths that occurred. I am so pleased that this forum has given such humanity to a murderer but it is back asswards here the victims the loved ones suffering who are sitting at home tonight in shock, disbelief with a huge hole in their heart where is the justice for them. On death row there is no cause in this time and era to pay $80,000 a YEAR to house a mass murderer and California should send him to Texas to be heard...
Karen October 14, 2011 at 06:37 AM
This lunatic can't even spell. Pontias Pilate? Not some clown name go get your drink on and when you have had enough hit a local AA Joe T. sounds like you are ETOH and maybe friends with the murderer spirituality and religion are not the same maybe they can teach you about your Higher Power when you get a program you idiot. One more threat from you will constitute a felony in Texas and I will pursue charges you have been warned now do not refer to me again you drunken jerk.
Karen October 14, 2011 at 06:44 AM
Murder is murder and a crime is a sin period. I'd like to offer this link of a murder situation in another state and how they handle it back in the northeast where I am originally from it's called death penalty. What makes this any damn different other then only 3 people were killed and for anyone here thinking they are loving by forgiving this murderer I'd watch your back. When you allow murder to become commonplace in a world like ours it becomes acceptable... http://www.aol.com/2011/10/13/joshua-komisarjevsky-convicted_n_1009809.html
SweetDove October 14, 2011 at 09:19 AM
He went through the same personality changes as Jared Loughner, also fascinated with the book, "The Lords of 2112". What is going on here? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8970rmFvMs
D. October 14, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Oh look, here is the TRUTH... "Scott was/is always unstable and angry. He abused both his ex wives, made numerous threats to other people, tried to commit suicide with his son in his hands (devoted father huh?). He killed those people cause he didn't get his way, then was to much of a coward to fight the police, despite all his preparation. He is a liar and manipulator (that's why his neighbors think he was a great guy). Now he is gonna try to cry PTSD? People who really know Scotty know he was messed up long before that. He was hoarding guns and ammo 15 years ago and making threats. Don't believe him, give him the Death Penalty, he deserves it. He is a disgrace to seal beach, fathers and humans in genera.." I hope the monster dies a long suffering death in prison.
Marit Londeaux October 14, 2011 at 12:39 PM
CAV44 - I got the joke. I live in California so I understand EXACTLY what you were saying. It seems our politicians bend over backwards to help the criminals and the illegals. Political correctness at it's finest, while the rest of the state suffers.
Marit Londeaux October 14, 2011 at 12:52 PM
Susan Bond - So true about the "hot coffee between the legs" comment. I'm STILL pissed off that woman was awarded millions for something SHE should have been held accountable for. After all, COFFEE IS SUPPOSED TO BE HOT!!!
Karen October 14, 2011 at 02:25 PM
At this time I know every reader here regardless of legal outcomes for this felon and multiple murderer would like in their hearts to express their love and concern for each and every family and loved one who suffered the loss they experienced at the passing of one of the killed individuals. Further if anyone believes seeing a traumatic event (PTSD) is an excuse think of all the victims who witnessed his shooting and appearing like some over prepared soldier on a killing spree in that community salon. Not one will forget it. May God give comfort and those who have passed and returned such as myself the knowledge that heaven is complete and all who go there are loved unconditionally. May each find peace.
Please October 14, 2011 at 04:05 PM
@Susan Bond You should educate yourself about peoples suffering before you make ignorant statements. The whole 'hot coffee' lawsuit had merit. That is why she won. Coffee at 140 degrees? The media campaign to discredit her was actually a way for corporations to protect themselves from lawsuits if they injure their customers like us. She wasn't driving, she was severly injured, and all she wanted was her hospital bills paid and they refused.
Barbie Brox October 14, 2011 at 05:19 PM
I understand your situation having been there myself. Therefore, I suggest you as a family, do the only thing you can do (In Florida, it takes two family members to sign off - not sure where you are but): Sign off that the person is "a danger to himself/herself or others". They will be picked up and are confined for 72 hours minimum yes - but also they are tested, counseled and treated, AND if the Dr. deems they are not ready to be released in 72 hours they are not released - - they must stay until the Dr. says they are stable. They are usually put on meds which help but they also learn they cannot act out any which way they want or they will wind up in mental health custody. They also realize that their family and doctors have power so its not just law enforcement custody they have to fear. Bi-polar folks are smart and are capable of some self-restraint - they enjoy scaring others - it feels powerful to them. Alot of them, not all, when faced with a loss of freedom as a result will curb their behavior somewhat. It is worth a try. All the best to you and yours. BB
Barbie Brox October 14, 2011 at 05:22 PM
For sure - and that is a good start - Bi-Polar people too, Paranoid people too, anyone diagnosed with a mental health issue - should not be owning firearms it can lead to an impulsive response they will regret.
Joe Tavares October 14, 2011 at 05:25 PM
No, I am sorry you are wrong. Two men hung next to him. One a thief, the other a murderer. You might want to read that book again if you plan on continuing to preach on behalf of it. If you like I can post a copy of the scripture?
Kaylee Jackson October 14, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Each person with PTSD is different. Different triggers, different moods, different thought patterns, etc. One may say that rape victims or victims of incest may own a gun due to the the fact that they will protect themselves. I also believe some type of training in self defense, or martial arts can also be helpful to that person. I have PTSD, and I legal own a gun. My gun is for protection and protection for myself only. No I will not go shoot up a salon or anywhere else for that matter. But I will protect myself along with my martial arts training and my Malinios if you get passed her, my gun is my last defense.
Auggie October 14, 2011 at 06:49 PM
I knew Scotty D. And its easy to pass judgment on a man that definitely needed help. I'm not saying what he did should not have its consequences, if you haven't walked in this mans shoe's, don't pass judgement based on the obvious.
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 14, 2011 at 06:52 PM
How recently had you spoken to him?
skylar October 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM
first of all, Steve, he got custody initially by slandering his wife and saying she had an alcohol problem. She only had supervised visits. All psychopaths slander their victims - well know red flag. Then she got more custody in the latest round. And he went off the deep end and killed 8 people and deprived his son of both parents. Typical psychopath who will cut off his own nose to spite his face. Everything about this guy is classic psychopath. BTW, both men and women can be psychopaths. In this case it was a man. Don't think he was anything special.

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