PUYALLUP, Wash. — Four officers who fired their guns at an armed Puyallup woman accused of killing her husband have been identified.
Janae Bunten, 34, is charged with second-degree murder for the June 7 death of her husband, 31-year-old Nicholas Andrew Bunten. She allegedly shot him twice in the head and mutilated his body postmortem to remove parts of an internal organ.
When law enforcement officers arrived outside a townhouse where the Buntens lived with their four children, Bunten allegedly came outside with a rifle and fired at officers.
The officers who returned fire were: Eric Alfano, 42, who has been with the Bonney Lake Police Department for 13 years; Ryan Micenki, 38, who has been with the Fife Police Department for 14 years; Andrew Bond, 32, who has been with the Puyallup Police Department for nine years; and Patrick Thomson, 32, who became a Puyallup police officer two years ago.
Bunten was shot eight times and is recovering in an area hospital, court records say.
All four officers were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is being handled by the Pierce County Force Investigation Team.
According to court records and police accounts:
Nicholas Bunten’s parents called the Sheriff’s Department on June 8 to request a welfare check on their son since they hadn’t heard from him but his car was parked outside his home in the 500 block of Valley Avenue NE. Their daughter-in-law allegedly told them Nicholas Bunten had left, but Nicholas Bunten’s parents knew she’d been suffering from delusions the past few months.
When deputies went to the home, nobody answered the door. A neighbor told deputies she’d heard the couple arguing the night before and what sounded like two gunshots.
Jane Bunten’s parents were brought to the scene, and her father was able to bring all four children safely outside. He told deputies he hadn’t seen Nicholas Bunten inside but his daughter told him Nicholas Bunten was sleeping.
One of the children said his father had been asleep all day and his mother was trying to “cleanse him” in his sleep, records say.
Another child told deputies their mother had not allowed them to see their father that day because Nicholas Bunten was doing a “spiritual mind thing” and could not be disturbed, according to charging papers.
Negotiators said they could see Janae Bunten turning lights on and off and holding a rifle. Moments after she stepped outside carrying the gun, law enforcement officers reported shots had been fired.
Nicholas Bunten was found dead in a bedroom. His wife was arrested and taken to a local hospital.
Superior Court Judge Edmund Murphy ordered Janae Bunten to undergo a mental health evaluation determining whether she could understand the criminal charges filed against her.
She was evaluated June 23, diagnosed with schizophrenia and found to be experiencing delusions of grandiose and religious nature, according to a competency evaluation report.
The Buntens married in 2016. Problems popped up in May 2020.
“At that time she believes she began receiving information directly from God, and that this led her to embrace religiosity in a manner that far exceeded anything she had done previously,” court records say.
Janae Bunten said she’d been receiving signs from God and wasn’t concerned about being charged in her husband’s murder because it was part of God’s plan. She believed Nicholas Bunten would be resurrected and they would “embark on a worldwide ministry,” records say.
The evaluator said Janae Bunten is not competent to understand the legal proceedings or assist in her defense. A competency hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 28.
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