May 20, 2019

Former Heard County resident faces attempted murder charges in daughter’s beating

(Vancouver, WA) — A former Heard County resident, 32-year-old Kyle Stephen Holder, is facing attempted first degree murder charges in Washington State after he allegedly threw his two-year-old daughter out an open window of a motel and proceeded to assault her.

The incident happened Tuesday evening at the Sunnyside Motel on Highway 99 near Salmon Creek, WA.

The toddler, 2-year-old Trinity Compani-Holder, who was initially hospitalized with life-threatening injuries is slowly improving, according to officials with Legacy Hospital in Portland.

Doctors told Barbara Keller, mother of Trinity, they worked on alleviating pressure in the head.

“I know for a fact that she’s going to make it,” Keller told The Oregonian. “She’s my baby, and she’s going to be strong enough to make it. If I have to give my last breath and my blood, I will.”

Kyle Holder at his first appearance in court Wednesday (Photo: Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Kyle Holder at his first appearance in court Wednesday (Photo: Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

The little girl’s condition was upgraded to serious this weekend according to a report by KATU News in Portland, Oregon.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office was called to the motel just before 9:00 PM Tuesday on reports of an assault.

According to reports, Kyle Holder went into the hotel room where his daughter and her mother (Barbara Keller) were sleeping, grabbed the child, and tossed her through an open window to a concrete walkway.

Holder is accused of then repeatedly picking up the girl and throwing her to the ground in the parking lot.

A good samaritan intervened during the beating, hitting Holder in the head with a baseball bat.

“I looked out the door, he had the baby by the feet and slammed her down. That’s when I grabbed my bat and chased him into the parking lot,” Don Gilbert, who was staying at the motel, told KATU News.

Gilbert told detectives that he saw the child lying face down on the concrete and that Holder was “stomping on her head with his foot.”

When Holder wouldn’t stop hitting the child, Gilbert said he knew he had to do something.

“That’s when I cracked him (Holder) in the skull three or four times,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said Holder kept yelling, saying he had to do it. “He was just babbling about gods coming for everyone and he has to get the evil out of his daughter, Trinity, he has to get the evil out, doesn’t want to kill her but he has to,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said Holder had been acting strange all day and that police even came out in the afternoon because of his behavior.

“He’d been acting weird all day, preaching to God and all this weird stuff,” Gilbert told KGW in Portland.

Responding deputies at the scene described Holder as being out of control and used a Taser on him to take him into custody.

“I had to hold my daughter and crush her head so she could go up to the sky,” Holder allegedly told officers that night.

Holder’s family grew up in the Ephesus Community of Heard County before moving away about 10-15 years ago. Holder attended Ephesus Elementary and then Heard High School in the early 2000’s. He attended school with the class of 2002 but did not graduate from HHS.

His mother, Debbie Holder (now a resident of North Georgia) says her son has dealt with a significant amount of drug and alcohol dependency issues over the past several years as well as more recent mental health issues.

Debbie says Kyle and his daughter had moved to the Vancouver area a few months ago to be near members of Trinity’s mother’s family. She says that Kyle did spend about 10 days in a hospital with severe dependency issues when he first moved to Vancouver. She also believes that after that hospital stay, her son had started to turn his life around.

“Kyle had begun to make some real changes in his life and most of our conversations over the last couple of months were about the Bible and salvation and things like that,” said Debbie Holder in a phone interview Monday morning.

“I know for a fact he had quit all the drinking and drugs and had turned his life over to Jesus Christ. Every communication I had with him was just full of positivity and happiness with his life.”

Holder’s mother says she only noticed signs of Kyle’s more serious mental problems during recent years.

“For the last two or three years I had suspicions that there was some kind of paranoia that was bothering him — but it was kind of hard to tell how much was coming from that and what was from the drinking — but I do know he was talking about hearing voices and thinking people were out to get him,” she says.

Debbie Holder says she actually spoke with her son on the phone during the afternoon hours the same day as the incident.

“The day that all this occurred, Kyle called me in tears and was just frantic. I had to nearly scream to talk over him and pray with him because he felt as though evil was taking over his body. I went through every promise and scripture from the Bible that God gave me in that moment to try to help convince him to try and rebuke those spirits.”

“As I look back at it now I see the battle with some of the paranoia and spiritual peril he was facing,” adds Holder’s mother.

“Some people may not believe the way I do but I have been a Christian for many years and this is just how I observe. I think a lot of his drinking and stuff through the years may have been to help him escape some of the fears in his mind. I had talked to him about seeing a doctor but he was in denial and refused. Many of our friends and close family have known that something was going on with his mind.”

She wants the public to understand that Kyle always had a loving relationship with his daughter and would never do anything while in his right mind to harm her. She adds her son has maintained contact through the years with several former friends and classmates from Heard County.

“I was on the phone praying with him for about an hour that day,” she says. “I felt like when we got off the phone he had calmed down and gained some peace or I never would have gotten off the phone. I feel like he had accepted that he didn’t have to succumb to those evil spirits.”

She says she has been in constant contact with Trinity’s mother Barbara for updates about her granddaughter’s condition. She says that Trinity had some facial reconstructive surgery on Sunday. She says the surgery went well but the child is still under heavy sedation.

After Kyle Holder was taken to a local hospital Tuesday night with his injuries, he was later booked into the Clark County Jail in Washington State. No charges are expected to be brought against the man (Gilbert) who intervened in the attack.

Officials were on the scene Wednesday morning, June 29, 2016 at Sunnyside Motel in Salmon Creek. (Photo: Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Officials were on the scene Wednesday morning, June 29, 2016 at Sunnyside Motel in Salmon Creek. (Photo: Amanda Cowan/The Columbian)

Holder’s aunt, Shelia Jones, spoke to KOIN 6 News by phone from her home in Georgia last week. She also told reporters Holder had called his mother recently to talk to her about spiritual things.

“He felt like the devil was trying to attack him from within,” she said. “That he needed her to pray for him and they prayed for a long time.” Jones says Holder’s alleged actions are unthinkable.

“That baby is his pride and joy. He loves her to death. He would never hurt her. Kyle is not a devil, he’s not, he’s a loving father,” said Jones. “Anything she did, even the smile or the talking, he was just elated with it. You would see it all over him how much he loved that child.”

Gene Smith, who lives in the Atlanta area and also describes himself as a family member, says that Holder suffers from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as paranoia and schizophrenia. He added that Holder had been clean for a while and had just gotten a job at Wal-Mart.

“He’s not a monster. …He’s got a disease,” Smith told The Columbian last week. “I know it’s easy to rush to judge … but what happened Tuesday night is an episode. This is something nobody ever saw coming.”

Smith said he’s known Holder for 20 years and is the person who Holder would call when he wanted to drink or take a pill. He said that Holder would never hurt his daughter if he had known what he was doing.

“He loved his daughter immensely. He played with her every day, sang to her, played guitar for her,” Smith said. “He’s had some kind of psychotic break.”

Judge Bernard Veljacic set Holder’s bail at $1 million Wednesday and appointed him a defense attorney. He will be arraigned July 8.

According to the report by The Columbian, Holder has a conviction from 2000 for driving under the influence and another from 2012 for family violence, both in Georgia. He received probation and fines in both incidents, as well as jail time for the family violence conviction, indicated court records.

(Editor’s Note: Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter and Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter contributed to this report)

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