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Tuesday, December 16, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Wife Of Slain Counselor Arrested In Puerto Rico

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

Fugitive Teresa Gaethe-Leonard, wanted on charges of killing her husband, was captured in Puerto Rico early this morning after an apparent suicide attempt, according to Puerto Rico police.

The former Everett woman gave her name as "Sally Lopez" after an ambulance rushed her from the Embassy Hotel to the emergency room, police said. She is expected to live, said Lt. Jose Lanzo.

Authorities have searched for her since she missed a Dec. 4 pretrial hearing in Snohomish County Superior Court, forfeiting the $500,000 bail a wealthy boyfriend in Hawaii had posted for her.

She apparently fled to Puerto Rico two days before the hearing, after clearing out her Everett home and having plastic surgery, according to the Snohomish County sheriff's office.

Gaethe-Leonard's lawyer, John Henry Browne, said this morning that he alerted authorities after the hotel called one of Gaethe-Leonard's relatives. "I was told that the hotel was expecting her to check out, and they went in to see if she was still there, and found her comatose."

Gaethe-Leonard, 34, is charged with first-degree murder in the February death of her estranged husband, Everett middle-school counselor Chuck Leonard.

Prosecutors allege that she shot him because he didn't want her to take their 5-year-old daughter with her to live in Hawaii.

Police had traced Gaethe-Leonard to Puerto Rico through calls she made to her boyfriend in Maui on her cellular phone, Lanzo said.

Browne said he would advise Gaethe-Leonard "to waive any extradition issues, if there are any," and return to Snohomish County to set a new trial date.

Deputy Prosecutor Michael Downes had unsuccessfully sought to increase her bail in August, when she was hospitalized after what he called a suicide attempt. Browne and Gaethe-Leonard's doctor had said then it appeared she had accidentally overdosed on prescription drugs.

Seattle Times reporter Dave Birkland contributed to this report.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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