OSO — She saw the curtains move in an upstairs window.
The house off Whitman Road was supposed to be empty. A backpack and boots could be seen inside, through a sliding glass door.
On April 8, 2016, a team from Snohomish County was sent to John Reed’s former property in Oso. They were there to collect data to map the buildings, and to gather information about a portion of the land where the ownership was being disputed by the neighbors, Monique Patenaude and her husband, Patrick Shunn.
The team included Amy Lucas and Adrienne Hulbert, accompanied by Patenaude. Reed’s former house was reached by an easement road through her driveway. About two weeks earlier, Reed took a buyout for damage from the 2014 mudslide. Since then, Patenaude had been reporting him for coming back and trespassing.
Lucas is a senior planner with the parks department. She testified Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court, where Reed is on trial for the murders of Patenaude and Shunn. He is arguing self-defense.
During her visit two years ago, the washed-out easement road to Reed’s old house was nearly impassable, even with four-wheel drive, Lucas said. Her supervisor placed a no trespassing sign in the road, near the house. Something seemed amiss.
“There were mud tracks in the driveway,” she said.
The tracks appeared to be from an all-terrain vehicle. At that point, the curtains on a front upstairs window were closed, Lucas said. She walked around, taking GPS coordinates, while her colleagues talked to some contractors about demolition plans for the site. As she came around the home, she noticed the curtains had parted.
The prosecutor asked Lucas to describe Patenaude’s emotional state at the time.
“She kept saying that she believed someone was there, and she didn’t want to go another weekend with someone in the residence,” Lucas said. “She said it multiple times. Her voice was shaky and she was physically shaking.”
Patenaude “kept saying, ‘He is up there,’ ” Lucas testified. “ ‘I know he’s there.’ ”
Patenaude asked the women to make a report to the county park rangers or the sheriff’s office, which they did. They asked those folks to ensure the house was empty, said Hulbert, a property specialist with the public works department.
The following Monday, three days later, Reed made a series of calls to Hulbert, starting at 9:01 a.m. He left anxious messages about wanting access to retrieve his belongings, she said. Hulbert was not at work that day.
In addition, Reed got into contact with Shelly Dick, who also lived at the end of Whitman Road. They’d been friends since before the disaster, she testified Tuesday. Her relationship was less warm with Patenaude and Shunn, who had sued her and her husband over a property dispute, she said.
Dick didn’t initially know about Reed’s buyout, she said. She had communicated with him as he was removing his possessions, slowed by the washout.
That same day, Monday, April 11, 2016, she had an appointment in Arlington at 11 a.m.
Reed called her at 9:06, she said. He asked if Patenaude had left the house yet. Dick could identify her neighbors’ vehicles by the sounds they made, she said.
She knew Patenaude had been complaining about Reed. She told him she’d give him a heads up. He hadn’t made a request like that before, but it didn’t seem odd in the moment, she said. When Reed called again, about 40 minutes later, she told him Patenaude had driven away.
A short time later, as Dick walked out of her own house, she was surprised to run into Reed on her property, she said. He often parked his truck there and then used the ATV to travel the additional half-mile to his former home. She saw the ATV, but not the truck, which she normally would have heard coming, she said.
They chatted a few minutes, and she told him she had to get to her appointment. He asked when she would be back.
Receipts show that Patenaude purchased items in Arlington at 10:27 a.m. Prosecutors say she returned to her driveway but never made it back inside her house. They allege that Shunn was killed as he came home from work, hours later.
The final call Reed made that day to Hulbert, the property specialist at the county, was at 12:14 p.m. He left a voicemail saying he was going to Eastern Washington. The next day, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, she called to let him know the county was going to change the locks on his former house.
Before the week was out, Hulbert learned about the investigation into the neighbors’ disappearance. She stopped returning Reed’s messages, instead forwarding them to detectives.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rikkiking.
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