Tony Reed (center) leaves the courtroom during a jury break, glancing toward the seating area for the families of victims Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Tony Reed (center) leaves the courtroom during a jury break, glancing toward the seating area for the families of victims Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Accused killer’s brother ‘thought we were getting away with it’

Tony Reed testified that he helped defendant John Reed hide the bodies of a slain Oso couple.

EVERETT — When his brother John told him he needed help burying the bodies of his neighbors off a logging road near Oso, Tony Reed did not ask questions. He didn’t want to know how they died, he said on the witness stand Tuesday.

“If I don’t know, then I couldn’t testify,” he said.

“And you wouldn’t be in a position like you are today?” asked Craig Matheson, Snohomish County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor.

“Yeah, right, well, at the time, I thought we were getting away with it,” Tony Reed said.

John Reed, 55, is on trial this week for two counts of aggravated murder. He, too, is expected to testify — to his claim the killings were in self-defense.

Tony Reed, 51, took the stand Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court wearing a short-sleeved plaid shirt, in front of a crowded gallery.

Two years ago, the Reeds were tight, he said. He thought of John as a “bad-ass dude” and a “tough mother (expletive).”

He was aware his brother was in a feud with his neighbors, Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn. They owned an easement road to John Reed’s former home in Oso and kept a close eye on it, according to the testimony. Reed accepted a federal disaster buyout not long before the shootings. He’d been accused of squatting after the sale closed. But the way Tony Reed figured it, he said, John Reed hadn’t cashed the check and therefore still owned the land.

After showing Tony Reed (left) an evidence photo Tuesday, Snohomish County chief deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson listens as Reed testifies. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

After showing Tony Reed (left) an evidence photo Tuesday, Snohomish County chief deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson listens as Reed testifies. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

One day in April 2016, Tony Reed had been looking for rocks — Ellensburg blue agate — until dark, east of the Cascades, when his brother asked him to drive across the mountain pass, he testified. Sometime during the three-hour drive, John Reed relayed to him that the neighbors were dead.

“What was your reaction, when you realized what your brother had just told you?” Matheson asked.

“I was just thinking about what we had to do,” Tony Reed said. “It gives you kind of an adrenaline rush, because it’s not what I was planning to do, obviously, but, you know. … They’re dead. There’s nothing you can do about them. My brother wasn’t dead. I was trying to save him.”

In court, John Reed shook his head slightly at his brother’s words. Tony Reed recounted the slain couple had been loaded into their own vehicles — a Land Rover and a Jeep — by the time he arrived in Snohomish County. The brothers drove slowly up a rough mountain road in the dark in the two vehicles until they reached a clearcut deep in the woods, about a half-hour later.

Tony Reed said he picked a spot where a tree had blown over. The roots had ripped up the ground, loosening the soil. The brothers brought one shovel, so they took turns digging, Tony Reed testified.

They returned to Oso for showers and a nap. Tony Reed wanted to burn the couple’s vehicles.

“The reason you’d do that?” Matheson asked.

“Get rid of all the evidence,” Tony Reed said.

“DNA?”

“Fingerprints, blood, whatever.”

They worried about the smoke from a fire, Tony Reed said. The brothers worked for most of a day to hide the vehicles in the woods. Tony Reed recalled hearing a helicopter overhead. He figured the crew was searching for signs of Patenaude and Shunn. The brothers camouflaged the evidence with tarps and brush.

Later, the vehicles were spotted. Word was out: Detectives were looking for John.

“He wasn’t really sure what to do, you know?” Tony Reed said. “So I said, ‘Why don’t you take off?’ ”

The brothers drove to their mother’s place in Ellensburg, and then to Arizona, taking her car. From there, they traveled in a friend’s vehicle to Mexico. “In hindsight, I wouldn’t have gone,” Tony Reed said.

John Reed became worried they might get shot by police, according to the testimony. In May 2016, Tony Reed surrendered at the border, alone.

“It was my brother’s idea,” Tony Reed said. “I didn’t really want to.”

Tony Reed led police to the bodies. He later pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance and was sentenced to 14 months in prison. As part of the plea agreement, Tony Reed had to testify during his brother’s trial. In opening statements, Matheson warned jurors that Tony Reed’s testimony needed to be verified through other sources. On Tuesday, Tony Reed admitted to telling a series of lies to detectives, saying he feels differently about telling the truth in court, under oath.

He had only seen Patenaude and Shunn once, before April, he testified. The couple had been removing a fallen tree from their driveway. He patted their dog and asked its name.

Back then, he knew his brother and the couple were in a dispute over property lines and access to the easement road, he said.

“I don’t think he said he threatened to kill them,” he said. “He might have.”

________

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Reach Caleb Hutton at 425-339-3454 or chutton @heraldnet.com, or follow him on Twitter at @snocaleb.

More in Northwest

Horses seized in Enumclaw after allegations of hoarding, abandonment

Sharon Hunter said the horses would be staying on the land for just a few weeks — but it’s alleged she more or less abandoned them there.

Despite concerns, homelessness authority moves toward final Seattle vote

Seattle’s homelessness committee aligned the city’s plan with King County’s.

King County’s current climate action plan was adopted in 2015 and has provided a blueprint for reducing emissions and preparing for climate change. File photo
King County approves environmental justice provision

An update to the King County climate action plan should include an… Continue reading

Homelessness authority approved by King County, awaits Seattle vote

The agreement would consolidate emergency services for people experiencing homelessness.

The King County Courthouse is located at 516 Third Ave. in downtown Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Council approves $600,000 to increase security at King County Courthouse

The funding will be split evenly between increasing deputies, security and social services.

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is among supporters of statewide “just cause” legislation to protect tenants in Washington. However, some landlords say removing the ability to quickly remove tenants limits their ability to get rid of problem renters. (Courtesy image)
Tenant advocates prepare for another push in Olympia

Following wins in Burien and Federal Way, just cause evictions are on the 2020 Legislative agenda.

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

Most Read