EVERETT — The December rape report that first brought national attention to Shawna Forde is no longer under investigation because detectives here have determined there is “insufficient evidence,” Everett police said earlier this week.
Forde, 41, is jailed in Arizona, charged with ordering two killings at a home invasion robbery. She’s accused of leading members of her Minutemen American Defense group on a crime spree to raise money.
In addition to the fatal May 30 robbery in Arivaca, Ariz., Forde and others in her crew are under investigation in Northern California in connection with a home invasion robbery and a burglary about a week later.
Forde and co-defendant, Jason Eugene Bush, 34, have been linked to the June 8 robbery in a number of ways, including a witness, Shasta County, Calif., sheriff’s Sgt. John Hubbard said Thursday.
“We know they were up here at the time,” he said.
Forde first received national attention after she reported being raped and beaten Dec. 29 in the north Everett home she’d formerly shared with her ex-husband.
The report came a week after her former spouse was nearly shot to death by a still-unidentified man who ambushed him inside the home.
The violence drew attention — and controversy — after Forde publicly suggested the attack could be the work of Mexican drug cartels angry over her Minuteman activism. The case took a bizarre turn on Jan. 15 after Forde was found in a north Everett alley with apparent gunshot wounds to an arm.
Forde now is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and other crimes stemming from the Arivaca, Ariz. holdup. Arizona officials allege Forde targeted Raul Flores, 29, believing he was a drug trafficker. This week they released a recording of the 911 call Flores’ wife made during the attack. The tape documents an exchange of gunfire, and the wounded woman’s sobbing over the killings of her husband and their 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.
Everett police continue to investigate the shooting of Forde’s ex-husband as well as her wounding later in the alley, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.
They are awaiting the results of forensic tests of evidence gathered in connection with the shootings. Investigation into Forde’s reported rape and beating, however, has been closed “for insufficient evidence,” Goetz said.
There are no viable leads, he explained, adding “that’s very much different” from accusing Forde of having staged the attack as a hoax.
Forde has been less than candid about the events in Everett. While publicly blaming Mexican drug cartels, Forde during a February interview with The Herald admitted she’d all along been urging Everett police to investigate local street toughs in connection with the violence involving her ex-husband and herself.
Everett police have been working with Arizona detectives since before Forde’s arrest, sharing information, but so far to no avail, Goetz said.
“The bottom line is we still don’t have any solid suspects on the assault on her ex-husband, or on her,” he said.
In California, detectives have enough evidence of Forde’s involvement in a holdup that they intend to send the case to prosecutors for review, Sgt. Hubbard said.
The victims are close friends of Forde’s mother and Forde asked for their home address just before the robbery, Hubbard said.
Peter Meyers of Shasta Lake, Calif., last week said he recognized Bush as one of the two men who posed as federal agents to get inside his home June 8 and then robbed him at gunpoint of nearly $12,000.
Police still are looking for the second robber, who was described as white, in his mid-20s, clean shaven and with short brown hair.
Forde’s half-brother, Merrill Metzger of Redding, Calif., on Thursday said police detectives told him that Forde and Bush have been connected to that robbery as well as a burglary the next day at Metzger’s home.
Metzger said detectives told him that cell-phone records show that six days after the Arivaca killings, Forde and Bush went to California, where they checked into a motel outside Redding.
At one point, the pair asked the motel manager for a pry bar, he said, because they wanted to open a safe.
Metzger said detectives told him “the safe they were trying to open was mine.”
Although they didn’t grow up together, Forde in recent years has visited Metzger’s home regularly as she’s traveled between Everett and the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It is very unsettling to think that your own family would do something like that to you,” he said.
Like his mother, Metzger said Forde had previously talked about creating an “underground” group to rob suspected drug traffickers and also businesses that she believed may be friendly to illegal immigrants. He said Forde bragged of connections to white supremacists and said some in her organization were willing to kill.
One of the potential targets, Metzger said, was a store in Phoenix where the owner was said to cash checks for people working illegally in the U.S.
“She just sat here and told me, just outright blatantly told me, what she was going to do,” Metzger said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, firstname.lastname@example.org.