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

Flying Fish: Lake Sammamish kokanee move to Orcas Island

It’s part of a program to preserve the unique freshwater salmon species.

Malena Gaces, left, and other members of Washington CAN protest unfair move-out charges and alleged discriminatory behavior outside Kitts Corner Apartments in Federal Way in 2018. Sound Publishing file photo
King County could increase tenant protections

The council is considering ordinances designed to help renters.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

Bellevue is the most expensive place in the region to rent an apartment, according to a new analysis. Courtesy photo
Several Eastside cities are among most expensive to rent in Northwest

Bellevue topped the list for highest apartment rents during the first half of 2019.

Habitat for the marbled murrelet in King County includes areas around the Middle and North Forks of the Snoqualmie River, as well as areas around the Skykomish and Upper Cedar rivers. File photo
Conservation plan for native seabird moves forward

Washington state regulations for the marbled murrelet have been in limbo since 1997.

File photo
Free printing costs King County libraries $1 million each year

The library board is considering reducing the number of free pages from 75 a week to 10.

Chris Vance has his doubts about the Republican party and where it is going. COURTESY PHOTO
From chairman of WA Republicans to party pariah, Chris Vance explains why

‘Biggest shock of my adult life has been the Republican Party’s complete capitulation to Donald Trump.’

File photo
$30 car tab proposal returns to ballot in November

Tim Eyman-led initiative would restrict car tabs and transportation benefit districts in Washington.

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia 
                                Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26.
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Spring Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish and Wildlife Service
State awards millions for salmon recovery

Puget Sound counties received more than $45 million.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.