A Carnation woman and her boyfriend armed themselves with handguns on Christmas Eve and walked over to her parents' house, determined to...
A Carnation woman and her boyfriend armed themselves with handguns on Christmas Eve and walked over to her parents’ house, determined to kill them, according to police documents released in the slaying of six family members.
The daughter, Michele Kristen Anderson, 29, and the boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, also 29, each shot Wayne Anderson in the head and McEnroe shot Judith Anderson twice, according to a police document released today.
Then, when Michele Anderson’s brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Erica Anderson, and their two young children arrived shortly after, she and Joseph McEnroe shot the family of four to death as well, worried that they would otherwise be witnesses to the slayings of the Andersons’ parents, according to the police report.
The couple was denied bail by a judge today and will remain in the King County Jail pending murder charges, which are expected Friday.
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A probable-cause report from the King County sheriff’s department released today spelled out how police believe the killings took place.
According to the documents, at about 5 p.m. the suspects walked about 200 yards from the mobile home where they lived on her parents’ rural property, to the home of Wayne and Judy Anderson. Within 30 minutes of arriving, Anderson shot her father, 60, with a 9 mm handgun and then McEnroe shot him with a .357-caliber Magnum. McEnroe then shot Judith Anderson, 61, twice, police allege.
The suspects then dragged the bodies from the home to a backyard shed.
A short time later, Scott and Erica Anderson, both 32, arrived with their two children, ages 6 and 3. Police allege McEnroe shot the parents. He then shot both children in the head.
Police allege that Michele Anderson also shot her brother and his wife.
The couple was planning to escape to Canada when they were arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of homicide after they showed up at the crime scene, a wooded property about three miles from Carnation.
A financial dispute might have led to the Christmas Eve slayings, according to a law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation.
The possible motive emerged late Wednesday after the arrests. One law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation said there was a dispute within the family over money and that Michele Anderson believed she had been mistreated and taken advantage of by relatives.
Ben Anderson, the grandson of the two oldest victims, told reporters outside his grandparents’ property late Wednesday that money could have been a factor in the deaths.
“She felt she wasn’t loved enough and everyone didn’t appreciate her and she was pushed out of everyone’s life,” he said, referring to Michele Anderson.
He was the only member of the Anderson family present at the jail courtroom this afternoon, at a hearing during which Michele Anderson and McEnroe waived their presence through their respective attorneys.
Ben Anderson held back tears and peered through the courtroom’s spectator window as McEnroe briefly entered the courtroom in a white, ultra-security uniform, before being led out by guards.
It’s unclear why Anderson and McEnroe returned to the home Wednesday, as it swarmed with detectives and crime-scene investigators, or why police became suspicious of them. But they didn’t come to turn themselves in, King County sheriff’s spokesman John Urquhart said.
“I don’t know what brought them here, [but] they arrived after we got here. They came to our attention and were arrested,” he said.
“A lot of yelling”
Sheriff’s officials said a 911 call was made from the house at 5:13 p.m. Monday and lasted about 10 seconds. The police dispatcher didn’t hear anyone talking, but told investigators there was “a lot of yelling in the background,” but it “sounded more like party noise than angry, heated arguing,” Urquhart said.
After the call was disconnected, the dispatcher placed two calls to the home, but the calls immediately went to voice mail, Urquhart said.
The deputies were sent out at 5:19 p.m. and arrived at 5:45 p.m., Urquhart said. When they found a locked gate — which isn’t in sight of the house — they didn’t go farther onto the property. According to the dispatcher’s log, the deputies reported: “Gate is locked, unable to gain access.”
Detectives haven’t established a firm sequence of the evening’s events, but Urquhart said the 911 call appears to have come near the end of the slayings.
The male suspect
McEnroe was living in Glendale, Ariz., when he met Michele Anderson five years ago on an online dating site, said McEnroe’s mother, Sean Johnson of Minneapolis. He moved to the Puget Sound region shortly after they met and planned to marry her, Johnson said.
Johnson said she was shocked that her eldest son — whom she described as a “good Christian” — was arrested in connection with the slayings of three generations of the Anderson family. Johnson said she hasn’t had much contact with McEnroe since he cut ties with his family after a dispute over money. She said her most recent information was that he was working at a local Target store.
Boeing spokesman Peter Conte said Wayne Anderson was a Boeing engineer. Conte said the company was contacted by authorities Wednesday and told that Anderson “was the victim of a crime.”
Neighbors of son Scott Anderson said detectives had been to their Black Diamond neighborhood Wednesday to determine when the young family had last been seen.
A sheriff’s deputy knocked on Mike Gould’s door, and Gould told him he’d last seen the family on Christmas Eve, just before they left their house to visit relatives in Carnation.
“Scott was a friendly guy,” Gould said. “He worked insane hours, and when he wasn’t working, he was devoted to his family.”
Scott Anderson would often visit Gould in his home metal shop where he refurbishes antique armor. Scott Anderson, who worked in construction and painted cars as a sideline, enjoyed “talking shop,” Gould said.
Erica was a stay-at-home mom, he said. The couple’s children often played in their backyard and waved at neighbors. “The boy would take great amusement by waving to me,” Gould said. “They were great kids.”
Around 8 a.m. Wednesday, one of Judy Anderson’s co-workers stopped by the house in the 1800 block of 346th Avenue Northeast after Anderson failed to show up for her job as a mail carrier in Carnation. The co-worker discovered the bodies and called police.
People who knew the family said Judy and Wayne Anderson had lived in the home since the early 1980s and later purchased the adjacent property, where the mobile home is located. A family friend said the couple had three adult children, Scott Anderson and the suspect Michele Anderson — who recently moved into the mobile home with McEnroe — and another daughter, Mary, who lives in North Bend.
Friends and neighbors
Family friend Mark Bennett, 58, talked to the Andersons on Christmas Eve and made plans to get together the following day. But when Bennett called on Christmas Day, his call went to voice mail. He told reporters he went to the property Wednesday morning after seeing the home on television news.
“I didn’t want to believe what I heard and saw,” he said, “so I drove over.”
Bennett said he used to run a coffee shop with Mary Anderson. He said Mary Anderson was particularly close with her mother and was with other family members late Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s fully set in yet,” Bennett said.
A former neighbor, Susan Malin of Renton, said Judy Anderson was “very nice, very sweet.” But the family mostly kept to themselves and weren’t overly friendly with neighbors, she said.
Another neighbor, Deborah Van Westrienen, said most people in the quiet neighborhood of secluded homes “mostly keep to themselves,” choosing to live a country lifestyle where “you never hear anything but coyotes.”
The Carnation reaction
In Carnation, a town of just under 2,000 people about 25 miles east of Seattle, residents expressed shock that a mass slaying could happen in their sleepy community, where ponies and baby goats often graze along main thoroughfares.
The Ixtapa Mexican restaurant on Carnation’s main drag was one stop on Judy Anderson’s mail route, said bar manager Cherrie Provo.
“I pass her every day when I’m going to work. She always seems pleasant … but I wouldn’t say I know her well,” Provo said. “It’s a horrible, sad thing.”
At Pete’s Grill & Pub, manager Nikki Larson said the slayings and the influx of police and news crews through the day were nearly the sole topics of conversation.
“We usually see newspeople out here during the floods. We would never expect anything like this,” Larson said. “Everybody’s in a state of shock. There’s been a lot of speculation and worry.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
Seattle Times staff reporters Sonia Krishnan, Amy Roe, Christina Siderius, Jack Broom and Rachel Tuinstra and news researcher David Turim and The Associated Press contributed to this report.