SEABECK — The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is expanding its network in the search for the suspect or suspects in the murder of John D. Careaga, 43; Christale Lynn Careaga, 37; Johnathon F. Higgins, 16; and Hunter E. Schaap, 16.
John Careaga’s body was found Jan. 29 in his burned pickup truck near a tree farm in Mason County. Late Jan. 27, detectives responding to a 911 report of violence in the Careaga home in Seabeck arrived to find the house on fire, and found the other three inside after firefighters extinguished the blaze.
The Careagas owned Juanito’s Taco Shop on Kitsap Way. Higgins was a student at Klahowya Secondary School. Schaap was a student at North Kitsap High School.
Sheriff’s investigators have determined that the four were murdered and that it was not a random act.
The sheriff has requested the assistance of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
And the sheriff’s office issued this request on its Facebook page late Feb. 1: assistance from “anyone with video facing the roadway in the areas of the following roads between Friday (Jan. 27) at 7 p.m. until Sunday (Jan. 29) at 2 p.m.”: Gold Creek Road, Bear Creek Dewatto Road, Dewatto-Holly Road, Elfendahl Pass Road, Tahuya Blacksmith Road, Tee Lake Road.
“If you have video during these time frames, you are asked to call Detective Lissa Gundrum at 360-337-5669,” the department requested.
“Our thoughts continue to be with the family, friends and community as we process this tragedy.”
In addition, the department has asked that anyone with information about the murders call Gundrum, and that callers can remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, a family member said a memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 7 at GracePoint Church in Bremerton. The service is open to the public.
Some 129 people donated $9,772 in three days on a GoFundMe account set up to defray the costs that will be incurred. The person that set up the account wrote of the family, “As you all know, this family would do ANYTHING for anyone. They would give you the clothes off their backs, give you a place to stay and always welcomed you with open arms. They always hosted fundraisers for other families in time of need. As a community, let’s help them as they always have helped us.”
Mourners left flowers and other memorials in front of the Careagas’ taqueria.
At North Kitsap High School, students painted a memorial to Schaap on the rock on the school grounds. Principal Megan Sawicki remembered Schaap’s “wit, intelligence, and big heart.”
The district public information office issued this about Schaap: “Hunter played football for NKHS and lettered twice, playing running back and linebacker. He also played second base for the baseball team for two years. From Coach Jeff Weible: ‘He was a good athlete that played really hard and loved being a Viking. He loved playing with his brothers.’ ”
Jodie Woolf, principal at Klahowya Secondary School in Silverdale, said the school family is “deeply saddened” by Higgins’ death and remembered “his joy, willingness to help and remarkable love for his family and friends.”
Both schools had counselors available for staff and students. They pledged to provide ongoing support as needed.