Search warrant reveals details in fatal knife attack

SNOHOMISH — Janine Shaffer told 911 that a man had cut her throat with a knife.

It was 2:41 p.m. on Sunday. Despite her grave injuries, Shaffer was able to relay to the dispatcher the location of her Maltby-area home.

Her mother, who also had been attacked, was dying inside.

Around that same time, in a truck headed toward Everett, John Kuljis called his own mother, according to police records. He reportedly asked her for money and also rang up his drug dealer.

Kuljis, 31, is charged in Everett District Court with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is being held on $1.5 million bail.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives obtained a judge’s permission to search Kuljis’ home, along with the truck his uncle was driving that day. Copies of the search warrants were obtained Friday by The Daily Herald.

Shaffer, 62, lived in unincorporated Snohomish with her mother, Barbara Decker, who was 78. They had hired Kuljis’ uncle to do some work on a bathroom floor. The uncle said he brought along his nephew. They arrived around 2 p.m.

Kuljis, who spoke briefly with detectives, said he didn’t go with his uncle that day. He has denied any wrongdoing and invoked his right not to answer further questions.

Only the uncle and Shaffer have described in detail what happened in the home.

The uncle said the attack started “without any provocation,” sheriff’s detective Dave Fontenot wrote in the search warrant.

Kuljis reportedly had a carpet knife. Decker was cut first.

According to Shaffer, Kuljis called to her but then said nothing before “he started to stab and slash her and got on top of her as she screamed for help,” Fontenot wrote. While Shaffer tried to fight off Kuljis, she said she heard the uncle say, “stop it, stop it” but he didn’t physically intervene.

The uncle, 46, said that after the attack, he and his nephew got into the truck. While the uncle drove, Kuljis spent several minutes cleaning his knife with paint thinner, and also wiped down a door handle on the truck, according to the documents.

The uncle said that in the truck, Kuljis had talked about creating an alibi, or blaming the crimes on a third party, maybe a random worker they picked up at Home Depot. Kuljis also allegedly suggested he could hurt himself to support a claim of self-defense.

The uncle dropped off Kuljis in Everett, where the younger man lives with his parents. The uncle privately warned his sister, Kuljis’ mom, that Kuljis had cut the throats of two women, according to the statement Kuljis’ mother gave to detectives.

When Kuljis got home, he kissed her and said, “I love you,” she said. She decided she needed to get her grandchildren out of the house and, as a ruse, told Kuljis that she had to run an errand for a relative. She called 911 and urged her brother, Kuljis’ uncle, to contact authorities as well. The uncle’s call was recorded around 3:43 p.m, an hour after Shaffer reported the attack.

Kuljis told investigators that he is getting clean from an opioid addiction and that he takes antipsychotic medication as well as a prescription meant to treat chemical dependence. He said he had not used illegal drugs for several days.

He has experienced money troubles in recent months, court records show. He has no criminal convictions, though he has drug arrests, including one Feb. 16.

The new search warrants included a provision to collect a blood sample to determine whether Kuljis was under the influence of any substances the day of the killing.

Kuljis reportedly tried to wash his clothes when he got home. When he was arrested, he had what appeared to be blood on his shoes.

At his parents’ house, detectives gathered bloody laundry and materials from the washer drain, along with assorted knives. A carpet knife believed to be the weapon used in the attacks was found Wednesday along Highway 522.

The uncle remains in jail on unrelated warrants from an old theft case. He has not been charged in connection with the killing.

Shaffer continues to recover. Her family hopes to find her a new home.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read