Editor’s Note: These deaths bring to fifteen, the number of domestic violence homicides and corresponding suicides that I have covered as a reporter in the past three years in Graham, Eatonville, Roy, Spanaway and Kapowsin.
An Eatonville couple died Sunday afternoon in a murder-suicide incident, while a second shooting in Roy claimed the life of an unnamed adult male Friday, Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies announced today.
The deaths in Eatonville occurred at the residence of the owners of Farm by the Pond Kennels on SR 702-Tanwax Highway, which is located adjacent to the Jehovah’s Witness church and just west of Mountain Highway.
Sgt. Nick Hausner of the Mountain Detachment told reporters that about 1 pm Sunday a middle-aged male shot and killed his domestic partner with a handgun, then turned the gun on himself and inflicted a fatal wound.
Hausner was unable to release much information pending notification of next-of-kin and the completion of the police investigation. However, he did confirm that the deceased male had a previous history of violence, but not of a domestic nature.
In addition, Hausner said that four teen-aged youth were in the home when the shooting took place, and one of the children had made the 9-1-1 call.
Hausner indicated that shortly after their arrival, deputies took the children into protective custody and transported them to a precinct house. Two of the children bear the last name of the deceased male, Hausner said, but he was unable to give any further details on the names and ages of the children.
However, he did say that the family owned and operated a dog kennel and were licensed breeders. In fact, a member of the Pierce County Animal Control had been on the premises four days earlier for a regularly scheduled inspection and reported nothing amiss.
Animal Control was also at the crime scene Sunday to retrieve several dogs from the house so that deputies could conduct their investigation.
“The dogs were pretty skittish, so we had to ask Animal Control to remove them,” Hausner said.
Further, officials said that the animals in the kennels would be the immediate responsibility of the family, and would not be subjected to any action by Animal Control.
Several neighbors and friends of the deceased couple stopped at the crime scene Sunday and spoke to reporters, but all were too upset to give their names or offer more details.
However, one neighbor told police that the family’s name was Estrada, and that the deceased man was originally from Puerto Rico and had wanted to return there, which caused tensions within the family.
Another neighbor described the dog breeding operation as a “puppy mill,” and she told reporters that she bought one of the puppies to rescue it from unhealthy conditions.
“It wasn’t dirty or nasty,” the neighbor said, “but there were hundreds of dogs there, of all different kinds of breeds.”
A member of the Jehovah Witness church, Tom Misner, spoke to The Mountain News and said that his faith community “got along good with them (the deceased). They seemed okay every time I saw them, and we never had any problems with the dogs.”
Two days prior, a woman shot and killed her boyfriend in a domestic dispute Friday in Roy, according to police. The incident took place in the 32200 block of 68th Ave, and detectives are investigating.
With this level of violence in our area, one cop acknowledged that he had worked 29 of the previous 33 hours.
Addendum: The News Tribune is reporting this evening that the man who died in Roy has been identified as Curtis Giffin. He was 51 years old. The TNT and other media are also reporting that the shooter, a woman in her late 40’s, has been placed in criminal custody.
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