SAN FRANCISCO — A trail of strained relationships. An itinerant life with a stay in a storage room. A personality that was ‘consumed by darkness’.
Accounts of people who know the man accused of Friday’s burglary and violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, described indications of a troubled individual and growing signs of politically fueled hatred.
That man, David DePape, 42, remains in custody and is likely to face several charges as early as Monday, including attempted manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, with an arraignment expected Tuesday, authorities said. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said on Saturday that Mr. DePape had made a statement to the San Francisco Police Department, though she declined to comment further.
According to law enforcement, Mr. DePape broke into Pelosis’s San Francisco home in the early hours of Friday morning through a back entrance. He was looking for Mrs. Pelosi, who was in Washington, authorities said, calling out, “Where’s Nancy?” In a struggle with Mr. Pelosi, 82, over a hammer, hit Mr. DePape mr. Pelosi with it at least once when police arrived and arrested him, police said.
On Saturday, Ms Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues that her husband’s condition continued to improve and that she thanked them for their support. “Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our doll,” she wrote. “We are grateful for the prompt response from law enforcement and emergency services and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.”
Ms. Jenkins said Mr. DePape had suffered “minor injuries” and had been treated at a hospital, but it was uncertain Saturday night if he was still receiving medical care.
A precise sequence of the break-in is still emerging and a portrait of Mr. DePape is just beginning to take shape. People who have known him at various times in his life reveal a shy person who tried to make the world a better place, as well as someone whose life seemed to float and whose behavior at times seemed strange, even unhinged.
When Linda Schneider, 65, Mr. DePape had known for a few years, starting in 2009, running an urban farm for low-income communities in the East Bay area. Mr. DePape would help her with her chickens and look after the house occasionally, she said.
At the time, Mr. DePape lived out of a storage facility in Berkeley and made hemp bracelets, said Ms. Schneider, who still lives in California. He had taken hard drugs, but was trying to get his life back on track, she said. She remembered him as reliable, easygoing, and painfully shy.
“He wouldn’t even have a bank account because he was terrified to talk to a cashier,” she said.
In 2012, Ms. Schneider said she started receiving “very bizarre” emails from Mr. DePape in which he equated himself with Jesus Christ. She thought the messages were “somewhat dangerous,” she said, and stopped communicating with him.
“This was a man who didn’t have much internal strength,” she said. “He would follow anything that was a little abnormal for him.”
Teresa DePape, who is married to Gene DePape, Mr. DePape’s stepfather, first met David DePape when he was in high school in Powell River, British Columbia. Mrs. DePape remembered him as a funny teenager who liked to joke and laugh and play computer games. He had some friends, she said, but not many. “He was a good boy,” she said.
Mr. DePape finished high school in Armstrong, another city in British Columbia, but the family had little contact with him after that, she said.
“We tried it first,” she says. “But he never responded, so we stopped.”
Mr. DePape left Canada about 20 years ago in search of a relationship that brought him to California, as reported by UKTN.
Law enforcement officers this weekend investigated what appeared to be Mr. DePape, though they declined to comment publicly on his online accounts.
But a blog written by a user calling himself “daviddepape” contains a series of angry and paranoid posts. The blog’s domain was registered in August at an address in Richmond, California, and a resident of that city said Mr. DePape lived at that address. From August until the day before the attack on Mr. Pelosi, the blog featured a flurry of anti-Semitic sentiment and concerns about pedophilia, anti-white racism and “elite” control of the Internet.
One of the blog posts suggested that there had been no mass gassing of prisoners at Auschwitz, and others were accompanied by malicious and stereotypical imagery. Another reposted a video lecture defending Adolf Hitler.
In one post, written Oct. 19, the author urged former President Donald J. Trump to elect Tulsi Gabbard, the former Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii, as his vice presidential candidate in 2024. Ms. Gabbard left the Democratic Party. this month and went on to make several high-profile campaign appearances with Republicans running for office.
“Trump your NOEEEEED to make Tulsi your VP in 2024,” the user wrote. “Of the ENTIRE Democratic presidential candidates in 2020. She was the only Democratic candidate NOT to stand on the podium as an insane mentally ill demagogue.”
But mixed in with those posts were others about religion, the occult and images of fairies that the user said he had produced using an artificial intelligence imaging system.
Several other messages were consumed by cultural war issues and seemed to follow closely with current events. One post was about the nearly $1 billion defamation sentence filed this month against Alex Jones, the founder of the conspiracy theory-driven media outlet Infowars.
Still, Ms. Schneider said she was stunned and angry to learn that police had identified Mr. DePape as Mr. Pelosi’s attacker.
“Who attacks people in their 80s?” she said. “That’s just the height of cruelty.”
Inti Gonzalez, who said she considered Mr. DePape a father figure because her mother was in a relationship with him growing up, said in a blog post on her website and on her Facebook page that Mr. DePape was someone who heard his voice, “but the monster in him was always too strong to be safe around.”
On her blog, Ms. Gonzalez said her mother, Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, met Mr. DePape when she was pregnant with Ms. Gonzalez. Their romantic relationship only lasted a few years, but Mr. DePape stayed longer to care for Mrs. Gonzalez and her two younger brothers, until she left eight years ago, when she was 13, Mrs. Gonzalez said.
“There is a part of him that is a good person, even if he is very consumed with darkness,” she wrote.
Ms. Taub gained public attention in 2012 when she spoke out against a nudity ban proposed by San Francisco’s supervisor Scott Wiener, culminating in a 2013 nude wedding at San Francisco City Hall. Mr. DePape, a paternal influence on Ms. Taub’s three children, was planning to serve as best man at the wedding, SFGate reported at the time.
A 2015 SF Weekly profile of Ms. Taub described her as “a seasoned 9/11 observer, lover of psychedelics and sexual free spirit.” In 2021, Mrs. Taub, 53, found guilty by a jury of charges including stalking and attempted child abduction. She is incarcerated at the California Institution for Women.
On Friday, Mrs. Taub’s Berkeley home, a large Victorian-style duplex, looked derelict, with abandoned cars in the driveway and stuffed animals hanging in the trees in the front yard. Two teenage boys appeared to be living there, one of whom spoke to FBI officials as a crowd of reporters watched.
A neighbor, Ryan La Coste, 35, said Mr. DePape had been a semi-frequent visitor to the home and continued to stop by after Ms. Taub was incarcerated.
“I think he may have helped because the kids are still young,” he said. But most of the time, Mr. La Coste said, Mr. DePape seemed to blend in with the cast of largely transient people who walked through the house.
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