3 men found guilty of first-degree murder, arson in Kitsap County quadruple killing

KITSAP COUNTY, Wash. — Three men were found guilty of murder and arson after a family of four was killed nearly seven years ago.

Daniel Kelly Jr., Johnny Watson and Robert Watson were found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder and first-degree arson after the judge read the jury’s verdict Friday afternoon at the Kitsap County Courthouse.

Loved ones flooded the courthouse hall to hear the verdict after the family’s bodies were found nearly seven years ago.

So many people showed up at the courthouse, many had to watch and hear the verdict from another room inside the building.

Investigators said they believe three members of the Banditos Motorcycle Club are responsible for killing John Careaga, his wife and two teenage stepsons.

However, it’s not clear if the suspects are or were involved with the organization.

In February 2017, Kitsap County deputies said they received a report of “something violent” inside a home in Seabeck.

They couldn’t immediately go inside the house since it was on fire. But once the fire was out, investigators found three bodies inside, deputies said.

The bodies were identified as Christale Careaga, 37, Hunter Schaap and Johnathon Higgins, both 16.

A fourth victim, whose remains were found inside a scorched truck in Mason County, was later identified as John Careaga, 43, who police said owned the home.

All three suspects initially pleaded not guilty. They have been in jail since their arrest in June of 2022.

KIRO 7 News spoke with Ashlynn Withem, the daughter of one of the victims, following the verdict.

“I just saw evil for the longest time and to see them now today feels amazing. It felt good to see them and have those verdicts be read guilty, guilty, guilty,” she said.

John Higgins, the father of Johnathan Higgins and the ex-husband of Christale Careaga, said the verdict is a step towards justice for his family.

“That week that he wasn’t with us. So, we heard the news. Of course, we rushed there right away. It was the worst news we got. And this is the best news we’ve got today. It’s over and they got justice. They can rest,” he said.

“I’m glad that we got justice for the kids and for Johnny and Christale too,” he said.

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, at 9 a.m., but attorneys were discussing with the judge to possibly change the date.

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