A vehicle believed to have been driven by two men suspected of killing a couple from Arlington has been located in Phoenix, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Two brothers suspected of killing a missing Arlington couple may be trying to flee to Mexico after they exchanged cars and received cash from two men in Phoenix, authorities alleged Tuesday.
John B. Reed, 53, and Tony Reed, 49, left a red Volkswagen convertible owned by their parents in a Phoenix neighborhood last weekend, before obtaining another car and $500 cash from two unidentified acquaintances, according to charging papers filed Tuesday.
Detectives now believe the Reed brothers are driving a gold Acura 3.2 TL, with Arizona plate number BNN 9968.
On Monday, a license-plate reading device hit on the Acura’s plate near the border town of Calexico, Calif., about 250 miles west of Phoenix. Investigators now believe the brothers may be trying to flee the country.
Phoenix homicide investigators and U.S. Marshals have joined Snohomish County investigators in the manhunt. The brothers, both felons, are considered armed and dangerous.
The bodies of Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude have yet to be found. Still, prosecutors formally charged each brother with two counts of first-degree murder, saying evidence leads them to “the inescapable conclusion that they are dead.”
A warrant in the amount of $5 million was set for both men, who also were charged with illegal possession of firearms.
Among newly detailed evidence allegedly tying the brothers to the killings are “obvious blood pooling and smearing” found in the vehicles belonging to the missing couple. The vehicles were discovered Thursday driven or pushed off an embankment near Oso.
“The largest concentration of blood in the vehicles appeared to be in the cargo area, consistent with a body having laid there some amount of time,” charging papers say.
Detectives also found a fresh 9-mm bullet casing near the Oso-area driveway the couple once shared with John Reed; dried blood in Reed’s former home; and bloody clothing and shoes reeking of gasoline inside two sacks near a firepit on Reed’s former property.
Investigators also found blood in John Reed’s Toyota pickup, which they recovered Saturday at the Ellensburg home of the fugitive brothers’ parents, the records say. The blood is being tested.
The pickup’s registration had been transferred under the name of Reed’s mother a day earlier, and Reed’s father told investigators Saturday he’d recently cleaned the truck.
“Mr. Reed also indicated that he did not know where his two sons were, but if he did, he would not tell law enforcement,” according to the charging papers.
But the father acknowledged his sons had arrived in Ellensburg on April 13 — the day after the couple were reported missing — and left the next day in their parents’ Volkswagen EOS, records say.
On Sunday, investigators received information the brothers had fled to Phoenix in the Volkswagen, which was found on a residential street.
Detectives also spoke with two men in Phoenix who told them John Reed had contacted them Saturday, saying he and his brother “were being pursued by law enforcement.”
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“These two individuals ultimately gave the defendants $500 cash and the keys to a 2002 gold Acura,” the charging papers say. The Reeds fled Phoenix sometime Sunday evening or early Monday, records say.
A sheriff’s spokeswoman Tuesday declined to identify the men who allegedly helped the brothers.
But records show the Volkswagen was recovered near the block on West Caron Street in Phoenix where a 49-year-old former Arlington man lives.
The man has a long criminal history in Snohomish County that dates back to the late 1980s and includes convictions for assault and malicious mischief.
Reached by phone Tuesday, the man hung up after a reporter asked him about U.S. Marshals’ activity at his home Monday.
J.W. Stepp, a neighbor and former police officer who lives across West Caron Street from the man, said a marshal dressed in plainclothes came to his home early Monday.
“He asked if I’d seen a certain car or two individuals,” Stepp said. “He told me about the murders and showed me the picture of a clean-shaven man and a man with a beard. I told him no, I hadn’t seen them.”
The marshal then left, returning a few hours later to his neighbor’s home across the street “with about a dozen other marshals,” Stepp said. “They were there a good two hours at least, milling around and talking with him (the neighbor).”
Brian Culp, who owns the house where the man lives, said Tuesday he rented it to the former Arlington man about a year and a half ago. A background search Culp did before renting him the house failed to turn up a criminal record, but showed the man was from Washington and had changed his last name, Culp said.
“He just told me he had some prior history with an ex and decided to change his name and identity,” Culp said.
Shunn, 45, and his wife, Patenaude, 46, were last seen April 11.
The couple, who lived next to John Reed in the Oso area, had an “ongoing and constant” dispute with Reed, investigators allege. Authorities contend Reed had threatened to shoot the couple over a property dispute in 2013, and became upset in recent weeks after Patenaude complained to a county official that Reed was illegally squatting on his former property.
Reed had sold his condemned parcel to Snohomish County last month under a buyout program for properties damaged by the deadly 2014 landslide in Oso.
After the couple vanished, a former deputy who lives on the same road later came forward to tell a detective that Reed expressed “extreme anger” after the landslide. Reed told the former deputy “he was capable of killing people without problems.” Reed also said “ ‘they’ would never be able to locate the bodies as he (Reed) would get rid of them in the area of timber above the slide area,” the former deputy said.