The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office released store video footage late June 6 of a man investigators believe is connected to the murders of four members of a Seabeck family. (Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office)

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office released store video footage late June 6 of a man investigators believe is connected to the murders of four members of a Seabeck family. (Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators say they know identity of ‘person of interest’ in Careaga murders

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said detectives hope members of the public who know the man may be able to provide them with additional information on his past activities, his associates, and his associates’ activities.

SILVERDALE — The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office released store video footage late June 6 of a man investigators believe is connected to the murders of four members of a Seabeck family.

Two days later, they know who he is.

They are not yet releasing the identity of the man, shown in the video footage entering the Target store in Silverdale just days before the murders. Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said detectives hope members of the public who know the man may be able to provide them with additional information on his past activities, his associates, and his associates’ activities.

Wilson said public response has been overwhelming and the department has received dozens of tips and they continue to come in. Sheriff’s detectives are continuing to follow up on the information they receive from the public.

The video footage shows an adult male entering the store at approximately 7:44 p.m., Jan. 15. Other video footage shows a silver four-door car driving along the front of the Target store, heading eastbound in the parking lot and then turning southbound onto Kitsap Mall Boulevard.

The murders took place 12 days later.

On its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office doesn’t indicate how the person may be connected to the murders and does not call him a suspect, but states that investigators “need the public’s help as detectives believe that this person did not act alone.”

“Over the past four months, Kitsap sheriff’s investigators have worked tirelessly on this case,” Sheriff Gary Simpson stated on the Facebook page. “At this point, detectives have information they need to get out to everyone.”

Christale Lynn Careaga, 37; her son, Johnathon F. Higgins, 16; and her husband’s stepson from a previous marriage, Hunter Schaap, 16, were found dead on Jan. 27 in their Seabeck home. Dispatchers had received a 9-1-1 call from someone later identified as Schaap.

The three were found in separate rooms of the home, sheriff’s Detective Lissa Gundrum said Feb. 3. There was no evidence of forced entry and no evidence of a struggle.

John D. Careaga, Christale’s husband, was found dead in his pickup truck on Jan. 29, at a tree farm in Mason County. Both home and truck had been set on fire.

At 9 p.m., about 2.5 hours before violence broke out at his home, John Careaga was shopping at the Camp Union Store less than three miles from his home. The store’s video surveillance tape documented Careaga’s visit there.

Did he go home or was he intercepted? “We don’t have that information, and unfortunately there’s nobody to ask,” Gundrum said in an earlier interview. Investigators believe he was killed elsewhere. “We do feel that John was the focus because he was killed at a separate location than his family,” Gundrum said in the earlier interview.

The Careagas owned two businesses: Juanito’s Taqueria and Christale’s Java Hut on Kitsap Way. The Careagas had an authorized medical marijuana grow at their home, and investigators found approximately $60,000 in a safe at the home.

Investigators do not believe the marijuana and cash were factors in the murders. “No,” Gundrum said in the earlier interview. “I should say, we don’t know if that was a motive, but that’s not where our focus is.”

Of the video footage, the sheriff’s office reported on Facebook, “Detectives have received and processed hundreds of tips concerning these murders and continue to work diligently to follow each lead. Investigators have studied multiple sources of video footage and have a person of interest in the deaths of the Careaga family …

“Anyone who recalls seeing this man, or the silver colored 4-door vehicle in the next post, or who may have additional information about the murders, is asked to contact Detective Jennifer Rice at 360-337-5616 or Detective Lissa Gundrum at 360-337-5669.”

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS, or www.p3tips.com. Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound will pay $4,000 for information leading to the arrest and charging of persons responsible for the deaths of the Careaga family.

— With reporting by Terryl Asla of Kitsap News Group

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