Woman, 80, kills ‘raging’ intruder who stabbed her husband

SULTAN — An 80-year-old woman shot and killed a “raging” intruder at her home near Sultan Thursday night.

The intruder, a 25-year-old Gold Bar man, had broken into the kitchen of a rambler along Woods Lake Road, west of town. Barbara Moles, 80, and her husband, Leland Moles, 75, live there with their son, 45, who apparently was sleeping when the violence broke out.

Leland Moles was watching TV about 8:30 p.m. when he spotted a stranger on the back porch, according to police. The Gold Bar man reportedly broke down a door, then hit Leland Moles in the head with a metal object, possibly a piece of rebar, and then stabbed him in the abdomen.

Barbara Moles heard a commotion and came to see what was happening.

“Her husband is on the floor by that point bleeding and there is a guy raging through the house,” said Sultan Fire Chief Merlin Halverson, whose crews provided medical aid. “She used that term several times, ‘raging,’ and (he was) waving a knife around.”

The woman went to a back bedroom and pulled a gun from the closet, Halverson said. She opened fire and then called 911.

“She was quite calm, frankly,” Halverson said.

Firefighters rushed Leland Moles via aid car to fire district-owned land along U.S. 2, where they set up a landing zone for an Airlift Northwest helicopter, Halverson said.

Leland Moles was listed in serious condition Friday, in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The man who was shot collapsed in a doorway and died at the scene. He was identified as Steven N. Sheppard by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death was ruled a homicide, a medical determination meaning he died as the result of someone else’s actions. The medical examiner’s finding is separate from a legal review that will determine whether the killing was a crime.

When help arrived, aid crews found Sheppard with at least two gunshot wounds and no pulse. Pills could be seen spilling from his pockets, Halverson said. It is unknown where the pills came from.

When reached at home by phone Friday, Barbara Moles said her family is declining interviews.

“We don’t really wish to publicize this,” she said.

Snohomish County sheriff’s major crimes detectives described the situation as “an attempted home burglary,” agency spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. Authorities have not located a car for Sheppard, and it’s unknown how or why he was in the neighborhood.

Sheppard was convicted in 2013 of first-degree robbery for a minimart holdup and sentenced to three years, court papers show.

In that case, Sheppard admitted striking a 60-year-old minimart clerk multiple times in the head with a metal bar. He broke the cash register and carried out the cash drawer, leaving the clerk “heavily bleeding” on the floor, prosecutors wrote. A witness saw his license plate.

Sheppard, who was homeless at the time, said his motive was getting drug money. As part of his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to dismiss an unrelated burglary charge.

Sheppard was released from prison in April 2015, according to the state Department of Corrections. He was under supervision related to that offense.

After the investigation is completed into Thursday’s shooting, the case will be forwarded to prosecutors for review, Ireton said.

In 2012, county prosecutors declined to file charges against two homeowners who shot and killed burglars in separate incidents, saying there was no reason to believe a crime had been committed. In one case, the burglar was in a home and had a hammer. The other burglar had kicked down a front door, prompting a confrontation.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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