From left, John D. Careaga, Johnathon F. Higgins, Christale Lynn Careaga, and Hunter E. Schaap. (Courtesy photo)

From left, John D. Careaga, Johnathon F. Higgins, Christale Lynn Careaga, and Hunter E. Schaap. (Courtesy photo)

Three men plead not guilty in Careaga murder case

Suspects are being held in Kitsap County Jail without bail

PORT ORCHARD — Three suspects in the murder of a Central Kitsap family in 2018 were arraigned in Kitsap County Superior Court Tuesday morning and are being held in Kitsap County Jail without bail.

Danie J. Kelly Jr., 43; Johnny J. Watson, 49; and Robert J. Watson III, 50, were charged with 16 felony counts that include first-degree aggravated murder. The men pleaded not guilty and were booked into Kitsap County Jail on $20 million bail each, but Judge Kevin Hull elected to hold them without bail due to the crimes being capital cases. The charges range from first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree murder, first-degree arson and first-degree burglary.

A task force investigating the 2017 murders of the Careaga family, working with other federal and local law enforcement partners, arrested three suspects in the quadruple homicide on Monday.

John D. Careaga, Christale Lynn Careaga, Johnathon F. Higgins and Hunter E. Schaap were murdered Jan. 27, 2017, allegedly by the three suspects. 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.

Christale Careaga, her son Higgins and stepson Schaap were found shot to death execution-style in their Seabeck home late Jan. 27. Careaga, Christale’s husband, was found shot to death the next day at another location — in his pickup truck, at a Mason County tree farm. A fire had been set to the house and pickup.

The motives for the killings continue to be investigated, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office detective Lissa Gundrum said at a Tuesday news conference. She said the suspects so far have not spoken to detectives about the case. The detective indicated, however, that investigators believe other individuals were involved in the murder case.

Dickinson said investigators are hoping that some members of the community come forward with additional information about the incident. Information can be submitted to investigators at fbi.gov or by calling 800-CALLFBI (1-800-225-5324). Reference “Careaga Homicides.”

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