5 Shot, 3 Dead In Whidbey Murder-Suicide

5 Shot, 3 Dead In Whidbey Murder-Suicide »Play Video
ISLAND COUNTY - A 27-year-old man shot his fiancee and her mother to death and wounded two other people before turning the gun on himself Thursday, a day after the fiancee reported that she suspected him of molesting her young daughter, the Island County sheriff said.

Deputies responding to a report of gunfire found the bodies of Marjorie Monnett, 55, of Freeland, and her daughter, Holly Swartz, 30, of Clinton, in the street in front of Monnett's home. Swartz's fiance, Preston Dean "Hugh" Douglas, 27, of Clinton, was found dead on top of her, Sheriff Michael A. Hawley said.

Monnett's son, Bruce Monnett, 22, and his girlfriend, Sierra Klug, 18, both of Freeland, were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with gunshot wounds.

Bruce Monnett, who was shot in the abdomen, was upgraded from serious to satisfactory condition after undergoing surgery, Harborview spokeswoman Kristin Foley said. Klug was in serious condition and was still undergoing surgery to her right arm, right leg and abdomen more than 15 hours after the shooting.

About 18 shotgun shells littered the road in the small subdivision on the southern end of Whidbey Island, about 28 miles north of Seattle.

Hawley gave this account:

Douglas parked his rusty, light blue van about 50 yards from the home at about 1:30 a.m. He walked in the back door, and shot Bruce Monnett in the kitchen. Klug ran to the garage, where Douglas shot her, nearly severing her arm.

Monnett, soaked with blood from a gunshot wound to the stomach, ran to a neighbor's house.

Neighbors who watched through the windows reported seeing Douglas going from room to room, apparently looking for Swartz, who was at a house two doors down.

Swartz's 7-year-old daughter knew where her mother was and ran there unharmed. Douglas started to follow, firing a shot in the air and yelling for Swartz.

That's when he saw Mrs. Monnett in the street, near a parked yellow pickup. He shot her in the hip and, after she collapsed, in the head. Swartz, apparently thinking Douglas was simply firing in the air, came outside. She too was shot in the hip and then in the face.

Douglas approached her body and shot himself in the head, crumpling on top of her.

The day before, Swartz called the sheriff's office to say she thought Douglas had molested her daughter two weeks ago, Hawley said. An investigator suggested she move out of the residence she shared with him in Clinton, and she did - moving in with her mother Wednesday night.

Hawley said deputies were following standard procedure in checking out the abuse allegation and didn't know what might have been done differently.

"We're going to be Monday-morning-quarterbacking this thing probably for the rest of our lives," he said.

There was no previous history of abuse in the home, and no one involved had a criminal history, he said.

Swartz had recently taken a job at the Good Cheer thrift shop in nearby Langley. Douglas, a Jamaican national and unemployed landscaper, had been baby-sitting for the girl.

The girl was handed over to Child Protective Services, and deputies planned to speak with her, but she was expected to be placed with extended family members soon, Hawley said.

Mrs. Monnett was a single mother of eight who worked for the Island County Public Housing Authority. As former president of the Vesel Court neighborhood association, she organized a sweat-equity project in which residents in the small subdivision built their own homes in 1996.

"Margie is a great person. She's a great mother. All of her kids really worship her," said Gayla Halvorsen, 53, who lives in the house where Swartz had been before the shooting. "I am sure that Holly's brothers and sisters will take care of (her daughter), but she's had a really bad life for a girl her age."

The girl recently completed first grade at South Whidbey Elementary.

Douglas' van was impounded and processed for evidence. A forensics team from the Washington State Patrol crime lab was assisting the investigation.