David Henry Curry robbed a bank in Tacoma.
“I’m 100 percent guilty,” he wrote Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend in May.
And he wants people to know why.
He says her name is Adinda Curry, his 8-year-old daughter.
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It’s been more than a year since the girl’s mother took her to Indonesia, where her family lives, and ever since, Curry says, he’s been desperate to get his daughter back.
Which is why the 53-year-old California man says he drove from the Sacramento area to Tacoma in January and robbed a bank to get money to bring her home.
It didn’t work.
Now Curry’s in jail, awaiting trial, and as far as he knows, she’s still in Indonesia.
He asked that his public defender be taken off the case, and is getting ready to represent himself at his trial for first-degree robbery.
Curry wants jurors to know why he did what he did, and Arend is expected to decide Thursday (Aug. 24) whether Curry can bring up his daughter’s abduction at trial.
“I was such a good dad,” he said recently from the Pierce County Jail. “I made a huge mistake, and I’m looking for some kind of mercy from the courts.”
According to court records:
Curry, who lived in the Sacramento area, drove to Vancouver, Washington, on Jan. 4, and bought a BB gun.
The next day he took the gun into the Key Bank near South 84th Street and Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. He picked the branch because it was close to the freeway.
He handed the teller a note that said he wanted money quickly. Before she could read the note, he demanded the cash and lifted his shirt to let her know he had a gun.
Minutes later, officers arrested him after he got lost and couldn’t find his way back to Interstate 5.
On Jan. 6, he had his first appearance in Superior Court.
“Since being charged with robbery in the first degree the defendant has made numerous efforts to tell anyone who would listen about his daughter and his efforts to have her brought back to the United States,” Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Birgenheier wrote the court in a memorandum opposing Curry’s efforts to bring up the abduction at his trial.
Curry clearly wants jurors to consider the situation with his daughter when they hear his case, Birgenheier said. But prosecutors say it’s not relevant to the question the jury will decide: Did the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Curry robbed the bank.
“While the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is sympathetic to the defendant’s situation regarding his daughter, the evidence is clearly irrelevant and not admissible,” Birgenheier wrote.
Another motion the judge must decide on is whether prior bank robbery convictions Curry has out of Connecticut, before his daughter was born, can come up at trial.
And Curry has asked Arend to consider dismissing the case, because he argues his constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated.
Given all the legal questions to be answered, Curry’s stepfather, who’s been following the case from Ashland, Kentucky, wishes he had stuck with an attorney.
“I think he’s a little foolish,” Don Mac Lean said Tuesday about Curry’s decision to represent himself.
Mac Lean and a report by Curry’s legal investigator in the robbery case give this account of how Adinda went missing:
Her mother and Curry married in 2008, had Adinda the next year and separated several years later. She was Muslim, he was Christian and that caused tension in their relationship.
The couple had split custody of the child, and a judge denied a request from the mother to take Adinda to Indonesia in 2015.
She took her anyway in June 2016, and never returned.
A post on the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children confirms the child has been missing from California since then, and is suspected to be with her mother.
According to the investigator’s report, the U.S. State Department said in September that consular personnel met with Adinda and her mother in Indonesia. The mother said the girl was going to an English-speaking international school, was getting along with the other kids and on weekends played with cousins and went to the swimming pool.
She didn’t let Adinda speak to Curry on the phone during the meeting, but said she was open to him visiting them in Indonesia.
The State Department told Curry he could go through the Indonesian court system to try to get Adinda back, but that he wasn’t guaranteed to win.
From jail, Curry described it this way: “For six months, I tried everything I could possibly do to get her back. When the government failed me, I just lost it.”
Mac Lean said his stepson stayed with him in Kentucky after Adinda disappeared, and was clearly unraveling.
“Adinda was his life,” he said. “And when they took her away from him, it was like somebody stole his heart.”
Curry printed posters, seeking money or other help to get her back, and had Mac Lean help him put them up.
“He spent thousands of dollars making up fliers,” he said. “Anywhere he could take a nail and a hammer and put one up.”
They drove around together one night, and, despite Mac Lean’s protests, must have put up 50 fliers in Ashland.
Mac Lean said he told Curry, “David, people understand that you have a daughter and that you miss your daughter. ... You have got to find a different way of going about trying to get help than putting up posters.”
“I just couldn’t get him to understand that,” Mac Lean said.
At one point Curry took a train from Ashland to California and put posters up at the stops along the way, his stepdad said.
He thinks the fliers are how Curry found someone who offered to get the girl back, for something like $25,000 or $50,000. But Curry didn’t have the money.
Asked if the person seemed legitimate, Mac Lean said: “That’s a good question. I have my doubts.”
At some point Curry intended to fly to Indonesia himself, but never seemed to have a cohesive plan.
“I believe he just wanted her back so badly, he never did really figure out a right way to do it,” Mac Lean said.
Among Curry’s efforts was a fund raiser on GoFundMe.com. As of Wednesday, it had raised a little more than $1,300.
A comment was posted on the site seven months ago, apparently from Adinda from her mother’s Facebook account.
“Dad,” the post said, “please come back i know ... I should not be on Facebook but I live in Jakarta and Bogor and if anybody see this comment tell my dad ok.”
Mac Lean didn’t foresee a bank robbery, but he was getting increasingly worried about his stepson.
Then one day he was sitting in his chair when the phone rang. He saw the call was from Tacoma. If he remembers correctly, the caller ID said: “Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.”
“I said: ‘Uh-oh, David’s in trouble,’” he remembered. “I have stepsons in Washington, too. But I just knew it was David.”
Before his arrest, Curry made a living painting houses, and has been in school, Mac Lean said. He described him as a good parent, who volunteered in Adinda’s class.
Her things are still boxed up in Mac Lean’s house, where Curry moved them. Except for her bike, which he believes Curry pawned in his chaotic bid to bring her home.
“He really missed her and he wanted her back,” Mac Lean said. “And he kind of lost control of himself. He wasn’t that stupid before. And to go and rob a bank and then lose his way to the main highway ... I don’t know how to say it. His mind was gone.”