Three years and no answers in slaying of hikers

VERLOT — He still can’t believe they’re gone.

Three years since his wife and daughter were killed along a hiking trail near Pinnacle Lake, David Stodden finds them in his memory all the time.

“I still think about Mary and Susanna every minute of my life,” he said Wednesday.

Outside in the garden where his wife used to tend the flowers and chat with neighbors, in the woods where his daughter used to teach, along hiking trails where the family enjoyed time together, he finds them, the Seattle man said.

The mother and daughter were found by hikers three years ago Saturday. Mary Cooper, 56, and Susanna Stodden, 27, were fatally shot and left deep in the woods.

No arrests have been made.

“As always, our thoughts and prayers are with Mary’s and Susanna’s family and friends,” Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. “One day we hope to be able to provide them — and the community — with answers and justice.”

During the past three years, sheriff’s officials have received numerous tips, but those tips have slowed down considerably, she said.

“I’m kind of discouraged there’s not more progress,” David Stodden, 60, said.

The mother and daughter were featured on the ace of hearts in a deck of playing cards distributed to prison inmates. The cards were used in an effort to draw out clues to old, unsolved killings, even though the June 2006 double homicide isn’t considered a cold case, officials said.

The file remains with one of the original detectives assigned to the case and is actively being pursued.

“We remain hopeful that we’ll get that one break in the case that will point us to the person or people who killed Mary and Susanna,” Hover said.

The surviving family members each are coping in their own way.

“We’re doing OK,” David Stodden said.

Elisa Stodden, 27, has sought solace through friendship and support. She works with middle school students, much like her mother did as an elementary school librarian. Her sister, Joanna Stodden, 24, quietly meditates. She holds the same teaching position Susanna once filled at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

Next week, David Stodden said he’ll attempt to summit Mount Rainier in a fundraiser for a school in Nepal. Susanna once taught in Kathmandu, he said.

On Saturday, family members plan to join friends and loved ones for a candlelight walk around Green Lake, a ritual that began three years ago.

Hover said she strongly urges anyone with information to call the sheriff’s office.

David Stodden holds hope that new details will come out that may lead to an arrest.

“Who knows? Maybe someone will come forward,” he said.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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