In Carnation, everybody knows your name

In Carnation, everybody knows your name
CARNATION, Wash. (AP) - It's 10 a.m. at the town's only Starbucks and the line is nearly out the door: high-tech workers, retirees and middle-aged women on their coffee breaks chat with families towing young children.

The sales clerk knows nearly everyone's name and this past Thursday they all seemed to be having the same conversation: how did this friendly little village with a cute, old-fashioned downtown become the site of a horrific crime, when six members of one family were killed on Christmas Eve.

"We haven't had anything serious crime-wise for about 12 years," said Cheryl McGee, who didn't know the victims but said she had spent much of the past day talking about the killings with her friends and neighbors. "Everybody knows each other...It's a tight-knit community."

One of the first things City Manager Candice Bock says when called by a reporter: "Carnation has the lowest crime rate in King County."

The massacre about three miles outside of town won't change that statistic, but geography is meaningless when one of the people shot was the person who delivers your mail.

Judy Anderson, 61, who delivered mail to about 500 customers and was known by sight by nearly every resident of Carnation, was shot to death along with her husband, Wayne, 60, her son, Scott and his wife Erica, both 32, and their children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

Judy and Wayne's daughter, Michele Anderson, and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe were each charged with six counts of aggravated first degree murder on Friday.

"That sort of thing just doesn't happen here," said Stephen Estrop, who moved to Carnation from England because he thought it would be a quiet place to live while he worked in nearby Redmond at Microsoft's headquarters.

"I was simply shocked," Estrop said as he walked out of the coffee shop.

One of Judy Anderson's longtime customers, Stacey Stoutt, said she and her neighbors were all tying black ribbons on their mailboxes in memory of the mail carrier who always brought her packages right to the door instead of leaving them by the road.

"She was so nice," Stoutt said. "She never looked like she had any problems. She was happy and smiley."

The city of 1,905 citizens, which celebrates its 95th anniversary on Monday, is a hub for cycling and other recreation and has begun to transform into a bedroom community for Microsoft workers, while Boeing employees and Seattle commuters have been driving home to Carnation for years.

Downtown stretches from the grocery store, gas station and Starbucks on one end, past the antique shops and a combination hardware and liquor store to the side-by-side Mexican restaurant and biker bar and grill. For entertainment, there's a branch of the King County library. Seattle is about 25 miles to the west, but the commute on most days tops an hour. Several movie theaters and major shopping centers are within 10 miles.

The town has remained isolated because it is 10 miles along a 2-lane highway to the closest freeway, because the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers flood on a regular basis and because King County has restricted growth with stringent rules concerning septic systems.

"People have chosen to live out in Carnation because they like the small town feel," said Bock, who grew up in a small town in southwestern Washington.

The chief executive of Carnation, which has an elected city council, said people here just don't know what to think about the Christmas Eve massacre at the Anderson home about three miles southeast of downtown.

Bock called the killings a "very horrible and isolated incident."

"Carnation, for the most part, is a great place to live," she said. "It feels very safe."

People talk to each other at the grocery store and the post office. "There's a real sense of community."

The talk of the town before Christmas was the new water treatment plant and sewer project, which will open the door to new development. Bock said Carnation expects the new sewer system, which is scheduled to be operational in April, to allow the town to grow by about 4,000 citizens in the next 20 years.

"We expect to grow, but we'll always be a small town," she said.