Holidays remain painful 7 years after slayings

EVERETT — There are some ornaments David Stodden can’t place on the Christmas tree.

They make him too sad.

They were made by his daughter many years ago when she was a small child.

Her essence dangles in the decorations.

Maybe some day he’ll be able to adorn the tree with them. Just not now.

The Seattle man said the holidays are a painful reminder of how much he misses his wife and daughter.

Mary Cooper, 56, an elementary school librarian, and her daughter, Susanna Stodden, 27, were found fatally shot July 7, 2006. They’d been hiking on the Pinnacle Lake Trail on Mount Pilchuck east of Granite Falls.

It has been a long seven years.

Their deaths don’t control his thoughts day and night as they once seemed to do, yet his heartache remains profound.

“I’m not in shock any more,” Stodden said. “… In some ways, it becomes harder.”

So does the wait for justice. The case remains under investigation, but leads have been sparse.

A year ago, Stodden took out a newspaper advertisement promoting a reward for information that might crack the case. The ad generated roughly a half dozen tips, but nothing solid.

“I’m out there just trying to get more information about who murdered my wife and daughter,” Stodden said. “It’s pretty hard to believe that nobody has any information. If I could generate a few more tips, it might be helpful.”

There were stories of a King County man who seemed to know a lot about the case and reportedly took his girlfriend up the Mountain Loop Highway, the main thoroughfare leading to Pinnacle Lake. A woman shared that she remembered having coffee with a man who started talking about the crime but clammed up when she asked him questions. There was a tip about someone “acting odd” around a Suiattle River campground around the time Stodden’s wife and daughter were killed.

None of the tips bore fruit.

It is too frustrating to do nothing, he said. So Stodden keeps plugging away, looking for leads any means he can. He checks in with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office detectives every now and then and occasionally drops by The Herald newsroom.

There have been no new developments, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said Monday. Information about the killings can be passed along through the sheriff’s office tip line at 425-388-3845.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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