John Blaine Reed (left) accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn, listens as Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson makes opening statements in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

John Blaine Reed (left) accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn, listens as Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson makes opening statements in his trial at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Trial over Oso murders begins with a self-defense claim

His attorney says John Reed, charged with killing Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn, will testify.

EVERETT — An Oso couple was killed and their bodies were hidden in the woods in 2016 because they had the misfortune of making their home next to a neighbor capable of cold-blooded murder, a Snohomish County jury was told Thursday.

Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude had a beautiful house on about 20 acres bordering the North Fork Stillaguamish River. From the outside, it looked perfect, but it was a “fool’s paradise,” said Craig Matheson, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor.

That’s because their neighbor was John Blaine Reed, 55, a man with whom they had a longstanding feud, Matheson said.

“Monique and Patrick had messed with the wrong guy too many times over too many years,” and that ended in death for the husband and wife April 11, 2016, Matheson said.

The prosecutor spoke with jurors as the trial began for Reed on two counts of aggravated murder.

Defense attorney Phil Sayles said he expects Reed to testify that he was forced to act in self-defense.

“We’ll explain what happened,” Sayles said. “John will tell you what happened.”

Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude (Family photo)

Patrick Shunn and Monique Patenaude (Family photo)

Prosecutors want to paint Reed as a “diabolical madman,” he said. The portrayal doesn’t square with a man who had property buyout checks in hand from the county. Reed’s former land was damaged by the deadly Oso mudslide and related flooding in 2014.

“All he wanted to do was move on,” Sayles said.

Detectives maintain the killings were the culmination of a long-running dispute between Reed and the couple. The pair told people they lived in fear of the man. It was so bad that in 2013, Shunn took the step of making a police report, the prosecutor said.

The animus reportedly got worse after the mudslide made Reed’s land unsafe for habitation. Reed took a disaster buyout, but he had been squatting at the site. Patenaude reported him, according to court papers.

On the morning of the killings, Reed called a former neighbor and others, sharing his plans to go back to the house to retrieve his property.

Mike Shunn reacts as Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson makes opening statements in the trial of John Blaine Reed, accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn, at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Mike Shunn reacts as Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson makes opening statements in the trial of John Blaine Reed, accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn, at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Evidence will show Reed first killed Patenaude, 46, most likely as she returned from a mid-morning trip into Arlington to buy chicken feed and cat food, jurors were told. She never made it back into her house.

She was shot three times. The first bullet shattered the bones in her right forearm. The fatal shots were in her neck and head. The likely location of the killing was a gate that led to the couple’s home and an access path to Reed’s former property.

Shunn was shot about four hours later when he arrived after work. The bullet was fired into the back of his head, so close that burnt gunpowder left soot marks on his skin, Matheson said.

Reed killed the man as part of an attempt to buy some time and hide evidence of Patenaude’s slaying, the prosecutor said. He said jurors would hear from Reed’s brother, Tony, about efforts the pair made to hide the dead couple and their cars in the hills above the neighborhood. John Reed knew the logging roads, ravines and creeks seldom seen by anyone but locals and hunters.

Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson points his fingers like a gun as he makes opening statements at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett in the trial of John Blaine Reed, accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Snohomish County chief criminal deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson points his fingers like a gun as he makes opening statements at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Thursday in Everett in the trial of John Blaine Reed, accused of murdering Monique Patenaude and Patrick Shunn. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The men also destroyed a camera used to photograph wild game. The camera might have been linked to Shunn’s laptop. The brothers feared the device might have captured one or both killings, Matheson said. He contends that neighbors’ surveillance footage shows the brothers repeatedly heading to and from the woods during the time frame they reportedly were disposing of evidence.

The brothers fled to Mexico as the couple’s disappearance drew the attention of law enforcement. John Reed was arrested in July 2016. Tony Reed had turned himself in weeks earlier. He led police to the grave site.

Matheson showed the jury pictures of the disturbed earth, obscured by a fallen rootball.

“This is what that man did,” he said of John Reed.

If convicted, the defendant faces life in prison.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Work on the light rail trackway will require over two weeks of overnight closures of 236th Street SW near I-5 in Mountlake Terrace. (Sound Transit)
Overnight closures set for 236th Street in Mountlake Terrace

The closure just east of I-5 means a detour for drivers to reach the interstate until Oct. 14.

Zach Graham stands in front of a newly restored Three Fingers Lookout. (Friends of Three Fingers Lookout)
Volunteers give makeover to precarious Three Fingers Lookout

Up high, with cliffs on all sides, the 90-year-old hut got much-needed new windows, shutters and paint.

Marysville man shot in hand during apparent drug robbery

At least two suspects were being sought, and police are seeking surveillance video.

The city of Everett is pursuing changing its municipal code's language to replace gender-specific pronouns with gender neutral words. Instead of his/her the code would use the specific position or title, such as police officer or public works director. (City of Everett)
Everett considers gender-neutral terms for municipal code

References to “he” or “she” could change to title-specific words such as “firefighter” or “police officer.”

Michealob Johnson (left), 25, is accused of killing Jae An at the Food Mart in the 6900 block of Broadway in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Trial begins for man who admitted killing a mini-mart clerk

Michealob Johnson is accused of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2019 stabbing death in Everett.

Driver who died in Everett car crash identified

Thomas Ogden, 43, was driving Tuesday morning on Rucker Avenue at 41st Street when another car crashed into his.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff (center) takes a ride on light rail from the Angle Lake Station in Seatac with King County Executive Dow Constantine (left) on Sept. 21, 2016. (Ian Terry / Herald file)
CEO of fast-growing Sound Transit system to step aside

The search will begin soon to replace Peter Rogoff, who leads the multibillion-dollar transportation network.

The site of a new development along May Creek Road next to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 in Gold Bar, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gold Bar considers home parking permits near Wallace Falls

In the past, parking spilled from Wallace Falls State Park into town. Decals could avoid conflicts.

Bothell clinic helps kids exposed to drugs and alcohol

One in every 10 kids in the U.S. had prenatal exposure. The consequences are numerous.

Most Read