An Everett man was charged with second-degree murder Monday, nearly two years after shooting and killing a 21-year-old man who had been dating his daughter, according to the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Charles Heller, 49, is accused of shooting Dustyn Hunt in February 2019, after becoming angry that his 20-year-old daughter, Lauryn Heller, tried to sneak Hunt into her room for the night. When he knocked on the door to check on the two, he was armed; Hunt was not.
“This was what I was waiting for,” Lisa Hunt, Hunt’s mother, wrote in a message to The Seattle Times on Monday. “This charge means so much. … I started to lose any type of hope for justice. I felt like it was slowly being forgotten about and brushed aside.”
Heller’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
According to the charges, Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies responded to a home in Everett just before 11 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2019, after receiving two calls from the same location around the same time. The first came from Lauryn Heller, the second from Heller’s wife.
Earlier that day, Lauryn Heller and Hunt had sneaked into the house, prosecutors said. They didn’t interact with her parents, but both Heller and his wife later told authorities they could hear their daughter talking and laughing with at least one other person.
Heller texted his daughter around 10 p.m., saying her guest needed to leave within 30 minutes. She didn’t respond, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, and instead decided to briefly leave the house while Hunt hid under her bed, she told authorities.
She was outside when she saw the light in her room turn on and off. Less than a minute later, she saw it flick back on and heard her father start yelling, prosecutors said.
In an interview with detectives a couple of hours after the shooting, Heller said he had asked his daughter’s guests to leave in the past, though he had never been armed. He told them he couldn’t explain why he chose to bring a gun into the bedroom this time, according to the charges.
“Something didn’t feel right about the situation,” he told detectives.
When Lauryn Heller came back into the house, she said, she found her father in her bedroom, pointing a gun at Hunt, who was in his underwear and trying to get dressed. Heller told detectives he had been concerned Hunt was armed, but admitted he hadn’t seen any weapons.
“[Heller’s] finger was on the trigger the entire time he was pointing the weapon,” prosecutors wrote in the charges. “This point was important to Lauryn, and played a large role in her fear, because her father, formerly in the military, has training in handling firearms and had taught her that you do not put your finger on the trigger unless you are prepared to shoot.”
Hunt apologized to Heller and said he was going to leave, while Heller yelled profanities, the charges said. As Hunt got dressed, Lauryn Heller put herself between him and the gun. She told her father “to shoot her if he was going to shoot anyone,” according to the charges.
When Hunt saw the gun was pointed at Lauryn Heller, he pushed the gun to the side and away from them, causing her father to fall backward onto the bed, according to the charges. Heller later told detectives he then got up and shot Hunt in the shoulder, before walking out of the room, placing the gun on the kitchen table and telling his wife to call for an ambulance.
Both he and his wife told authorities they had never seen or met Hunt before, though Lauryn Heller said they had both been introduced to him before and no issues or fights had ever come up.
It’s unclear why charges were not filed until two years later, but the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office previously said that investigators were waiting to receive results from forensic tests.
“It upsets me so much that this is my own dad. But this is what happened and this is what I saw,” Lauryn Heller told The Times several months after the shooting. “I just want there to be justice in whatever way that’s served. I want his family to know peace. I want everybody to know what happened.”
She and Hunt knew each other for about a year but had only dated for a few weeks when he was shot, she told The Times.
Hunt, his mother and brother — Kobee, who’s three years younger — lived in Shoreline until he was 10, when they moved to Kingston, Lisa Hunt said. He loved making music, and learned how to play drums and guitar at a young age. When he turned 15, he started writing rap and hip-hop songs, usually under the name Nabii Kosmo or prettyboi Nabii, his mother said.
“I know no matter what, nothing will bring my son back or take away from the every day pain of knowing I will never see him again,” Hunt wrote. “He will never get married, have kids, have a career, come to family dinners but this decision does make the pain a little easier to handle.
“It also has made it so I can breathe a bit better,” she wrote. “Some of the anger I have inside, which is quite a bit, has been lifted.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Asia Fields contributed to this story.