Two dead in apparent Eatonville murder-suicide

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:

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EATONVILLE, Wash. - A husband and wife are dead in what investigators call a murder-suicide in Eatonville.

Eatonville police and Pierce County sheriff’s detectives said Keith Johnson, 40, shot and killed his wife Julie Johnson, 37, Thursday morning then drove across town and shot himself as he sat in the cab of his pickup truck.

Authorities cordoned off the 1100 block of Rainier Avenue North where a 40-year-old man was found dead in a truck from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound about 11:04 a.m. Thursday.  

The truck was parked in front the historical Van Eaton mansion.

“I just heard a pop,” said witness Richard Monroe.

Monroe said he walked out into his front yard to see Johnson’s truck rolling slowly backward, his body slumped over behind the wheel. “I hate to see it happen,” Monroe said. 

The couple had been having financial problems, according to a family friend. Kaylia Maloney said her father was best friends with Keith Johnson and told her he had been acting strangely.

“My brother just saw him on the first for the May Day thing and he said he looked happy as can be,” said Maloney. “But my dad said he wasn’t right for a while, they weren’t doing too good.”

Video from Chopper 7 showed a red pickup parked diagonally in the street. Police placed blankets over the truck’s windshield to block the view of the deceased.

Police then went to the man's home in the 100 block of Madison Street where a 37-year-old woman, who was the man's wife, was found dead. 

Chopper video showed crime scene tape surrounding the home at the Country Lane Mobile Home Park. Multiple officers were at the scene.

The details leading up to the deaths are not yet known. 

Detectives found two dozen loaded weapons inside Keith Johnson’s home. Friends told investigators he had been wearing dark glasses and hiding in darkened rooms inside the family’s mobile home recently. Police said the couple did not have a recent history of domestic violence issues. 

The two had a 16-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. Both were found safe at nearby schools in Eatonville.