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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo Tags
King County libraries move to Phase 4 this month

Libraries across King County will advance to Phase 4 on June 30,… Continue reading

Stock photo
Too Good To Go app aims to creatively reduce food waste

Nearly 40 percent of all food goes to waste worldwide, according to compnay spokesperson.

Courtesy image
As vax rates ease in WA, here come the prizes — including $1 million

Incentives range from big cash drawings to sports tickets and tuition. Drawings start next week.

Jackie Hoernor winces as she gets her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination during a Walgreen’s Vaccine Clinic at South Pointe on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Everett, Washington. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Washington no longer on pace to beat June 30 vaccine goal

Reaching 70% of adults with at least one shot would trigger the state to drop most COVID-19 restrictions.

t
King County Council approves facial recognition technology ban

Software ban applies to King County Sheriff’s Office

t
PSE’s electric customer rates increasing slightly

The new rates will go into effect July 1

Graphic rendering of ADU design used for Renton’s Permit Ready Accessory Dwelling Unit program (courtesy of City of Renton)
Backyard cottages might offer a partial solution to King County’s housing problem

Some cities are embracing the solution better than others.

Most Read