SEABECK — What the Kitsap County Sheriffs’ Department is calling a quadruple homicide has “a lot of moving parts,” according to sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson.
And at least two mysteries.
The 911 call came in late Jan. 27 reporting “an incident and violence” at the house, and then the caller hung up, Wilson said.
Who made the 911 call is the first mystery.
Sheriff’s deputies and the fire department responded to the call. But when they arrived at the home near Lake Tehuyeh, it was on fire. While firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, deputies searched the outbuildings for additional persons. The home was surrounded by dense woods, so the King County Sheriff’s helicopter, Guardian One, was called in to search the woods with its forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR). Consequently, deputies were eventually “99.99 percent sure there was no one out there,” Wilson said.
Even when the fire was out, the deputies had to wait some time for the house to get ventilated so it was safe to enter, he said. When they were able to get in, they discovered the remains of three persons.
“At this point, if you’re an officer you put your mind on neutral,” Wilson said. “Later on, if you need to talk about it, professional help is available.”
The next step in the procedure was to account for all of the people who lived there and to see if there were any vehicles missing. That part of the investigation lasted all day Jan. 28 and well into the night.
“It was a large, blended family,” Wilson reported. But eventually they were able to account for all but one member: a 43-year-old male, John Careaga, and one vehicle, a brown 2005 Ford F-150.
The Sheriffs’ Department broadcast a description of Careaga, along with the missing vehicle and its plate number, to the print and TV media as well as on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
By this point, the case was a joint investigation with the Kitsap County fire marshal and coroner.
Late Jan. 29, the coroner’s office was able to positively identify the identities of the three bodies found in the burned out home: Christale Lynn Careaga, 37, Johnathon F. Higgins, 16, and Hunter E. Schaap, 16.
Earlier that day, at 5:30 p.m., officials announced that the pickup had been found in a rural area of Mason County. It had been torched and there was a body inside, Wilson confirmed. The Kitsap County Coroner has the body in its care, he said.
The identity of that person is the second mystery.
“It’s going to take some time [to identify the remains],” a Kitsap County deputy coroner said. “We’re doing what we can.”
Detectives are urging residents to call with any information related to this quadruple murder: Detective Lissa Gundrum, 360-337-5669. Callers can remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been established to defray the victims’ funeral expenses. As of early Jan. 31, some 75 people had contributed $6,415 of the $50,000 goal. A student or students painted a tribute to Schaap on the rock on the North Kitsap High School grounds. Flowers and other tributes were left outside of Juanito’s Taco Shop, which is owned by the Careaga family, on Kitsap Way.
And at 7:50 a.m. Jan. 31, staff and students at North Kitsap High School were expected to gather in the school library, where counseling services would be available.
Principal Megan Sawicki notified parents and staff on Jan. 29 that one of the deceased was identified as Hunter Schaap, an 11th-grader at NKHS.
“This weekend we received conflicting reports about Hunter’s whereabouts and safety,” she wrote in an email. “I am deeply saddened to share that Hunter’s family has confirmed and requested that we share with you that he was one of the victims of suspected homicide early Saturday morning.
“For those of you who knew Hunter, we ask that you remember his wit, intelligence, and big heart. This is a great loss for our entire NKHS community … I know you join me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to Hunter’s family members and friends.”
Neighbors told KING 5 they had heard gunshots earlier in the evening but didn’t know if they were related to the incident.
It’s the second death of a North Kitsap High School student this school year. On Aug. 16, Emily Ramm died after she fell while climbing a ladder to the roof of Silverdale Elementary School. A friend told authorities they were climbing to the roof to get a better view of the meteor shower.