ARIVACA, ARIZ. — The man accused of pulling the trigger in a double murder linked to an Everett woman left behind a paper trail of deception, according to residents of the small Arizona town where he lived for about a year until his arrest last month.
Jason Eugene Bush, who authorities say admitted to the May 30 home-invasion killings of Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, presented counterfeit money orders and fake military papers around town and lied to get work, said residents of Meadview, a community in northern Arizona.
Bush is charged with the killings along with Shawna Forde, 41, of Everett. Although Bush has lived in Washington and served years in prison here, it remains unclear how much of a connection he has to Snohomish County — if at all.
“He was a huge con artist,” said Tracy Van Wormer, owner of Meadview Market, a local convenience store. “I’m sitting on about $2,000 worth of counterfeit money orders from him.”
She said Bush claimed he was a veteran and told her that he was re-enlisting and cashed two money orders for $1,000 each in early May. He said they were advances on his re-enlistment bonus.
When she sent them to the bank, they were returned. The bank told her they were old money orders that had been washed and rewritten, Van Wormer said.
“I pressed charges against him and they issued a warrant, but I’ll never see my two grand,” she said.
Pentagon officials say there is no record that Bush served in the military.
Bush told the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office that he had been duped in an Internet scam and that’s how he came by the checks, Van Wormer said.
Bush also presented forged military papers to become a member of the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the post’s senior vice commander, Lavern Allsman.
“He said he was in Vietnam,” Allsman said. “It looked good on paper.”
The 34-year-old Bush was a toddler when the U.S. ended its involvement in the war in Vietnam.
The VFW requires proof of at least six months served overseas, but Bush was voted in as a member without verifying the documents, Allsman said. He added that Bush likely joined to take advantage of the cheap liquor.
“There’s only two bars in Meadview: The VFW and the Crow’s Nest, and it’s cheaper to drink at the VFW,” Allsman said. “The next meeting … I have to challenge his eligibility and as soon as it comes out that he was never in the military, his VFW card will be destroyed.”
Bush told friends that he was a decorated Special Forces veteran who had survived combat in Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush even has military tattoos, including “special forces,” “recon-viper” and “7th artillery group La Grande, OR,” according to a warrant issued by the Pima County Justice Court.
And when Bush show up in Meadview in early June with a bullet wound in his leg, he told people he had just been injured in Iraq, Van Wormer said.
“I should have known he was lying,” she said. “They don’t send soldiers home with bullet holes in their leg.”
Authorities say Bush was shot while invading the Flores home May 30.
The Pima County, Ariz. sheriff’s officials say Raul “Junior” Flores was a known drug dealer. The man and his daughter were shot in the head after several people dressed in camouflage and military gear posed as law enforcement officers and invaded their home. Flores’ wife also was shot three times but fended off the intruders by firing back at them with a handgun and wounding one, now identified as Bush by officials.
Bush confessed June 11, shortly after he was arrested in Meadview, Pima County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael O’Connor said. Bush implicated Forde, 41, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, of Arivaca,.
Bush also named several other people in the killings, but O’Connor said he couldn’t reveal how many, their names or how they may be related to the suspects for fear of compromising the investigation. No other arrests have been made.
The three have been charged with eight felony counts, including first-degree murder, burglary in the first degree, aggravated assault and armed robbery. They’ve all pleaded not guilty.
Bush spent much of his teens and 20s in and out of jail. Court records show that he served prison time in Idaho, Kansas and Washington, including nearly five years for several charges, including auto theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
But he lied about his criminal record when applying for a job as an engineer at the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass structure suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River at the edge of the Grand Canyon.
He was fired in March “due to events surrounding unresolved issues found in his background investigation that he could not or would not resolve,” Daniel Kay, general manager of Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, said in an e-mailed statement. He declined to comment further.
Bush also is facing a second-degree charge in the 1997 death of a Wenatchee man.
He’s also a suspect, along with Forde, in a Redding, Calif., robbery, police say.
Herald staff contributed to this report.