Granite Falls feels effects of slayings

GRANITE FALLS – After spending the day exploring the trails off the Mountain Loop Highway, hikers often stop in Granite Falls at Omega Pizza and Pasta.

During the warm summer months, business is usually booming, owner Barbara Petrakopoulos said.

This summer started like any other.

Then, on Tuesday, a hiker found two Seattle women shot dead on the Pinnacle Lake trail.

Police are still investigating what happened to Mary Cooper, 56, and her oldest daughter Susanna Stodden, 27. They released no new information Monday.

Since the killings, some businesses in Granite Falls have seen their sales drop.

“We had been really busy” this summer, Petrakopoulos said. “All of a sudden … we just don’t have it.”

It’s hard to gauge just how many people might have stayed away from hiking in the area over the weekend.

Petrakopoulos said only one group of hikers stopped at the restaurant Sunday and business for the weekend was down by half.

Granite Falls Hardware Store manager Mark Brauer said the day after the shooting was the “slowest day in a long time.”

At the ranger station in Verlot, not far from where the killings occurred, Megan Impson said there might have been a “little bit of a drop” in visitors, but not much.

She said 731 people stopped by the information center over the weekend, compared to 796 the weekend before the shooting. Unsettled weather Saturday could have kept some people away, she said.

The Gold Basin Campground had a typical weekend, campground host Leroy Dunn said.

Adrianne Hurtig, a waitress at the Mountain View Inn restaurant in Verlot, said she noticed a slight decrease in diners over the weekend.

The killings were all that people were talking about, she said.

Nearby, at the Green Gables General Store, Helen Woodson said business was typical for a summer weekend.

“This is the safest place in the world right now,” she said. “There are police everywhere.”

On Monday, the trail to Pinnacle Lake remained closed. Patrol cars from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies were seen driving back and forth to the trailhead.

At the pizza parlor in Granite Falls, Petrakopoulos worried the news about the killings might keep people away for some time.

“It’s going to drop my business big time,” she said.

Mayor Lyle Romack said he’s always concerned about what happens on the Mountain Loop Highway, even if it happens miles away from town.

“It’s a long way out of Granite Falls,” he said, “but it still affects us.”

People in Granite Falls are still smarting over what happened three years ago when Rolling Stone magazine labeled the small town “Methville.” The article described the community as swamped by drugs as part of a larger look at how methamphetamine was changing small towns.

Bloggers on an Internet forum geared toward Northwest hikers dredged up that label last week while discussing news about the killings.

Some connected the homicides to the town’s reputation for problems with meth.

Detectives say Granite Falls is no more affected by drugs than any other community in Snohomish County.

“Granite Falls has never been the meth capital of the world,” said Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force Lt. John Flood.

Countywide, meth use is on the rise, but backyard labs have decreased, Flood said.

The majority of meth coming into the county is now produced in Mexico, officials say.

Moreover, investigators have never found a large outdoor marijuana operation near where the hikers were killed, Flood said.

“I think people are trying to make a connection to drugs, but I think they’re just grasping,” Flood said.

“I think it’s ignorance on the part of the public to jump to the conclusion that it happened because it was near Granite Falls,” he said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or

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