A postal worker worried about an absent colleague came across a horrific scene: six people, likely three generations of the same family, shot to death on their rural property.
Within hours, the family's tragedy deepened when police arrested the property owners' daughter and her boyfriend, according to a law enforcement official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the names, said the pair were Michele Anderson, 29, and Joseph McEnroe, 29, her boyfriend.
King County Sheriff's Sgt. John Urquhart said the suspects went to the crime scene after investigators had arrived, were questioned and arrested. No motive had been determined and investigators had not found a weapon.
The sheriff's office did not release the names of the suspects or the victims, but the owners of the property are Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judy Anderson, 61, according to public records. Multiple media reports said the couple, along with their son, Scott; his wife, Erica; and their two children, Olivia and Nathan, were the victims.
Urquhart would only say the victims were a boy about age 3, a girl about age 6, a man and woman in their 30s and a man and woman in their 50s, and "likely three generations" of one family.
Authorities are trying to determine why deputies didn't further investigate a 911 hang-up call on Christmas Eve that came from the house. The call ended after about 10 seconds, and the operator reported hearing "a lot of yelling in the background ... sounded more like party noise than angry heated arguing."
Operators twice called back, but both calls went into voice mail. About 30 minutes later, two deputies arrived at the property, but found a locked gate and did not go onto the property. The dispatchers log reported the deputies saying, "gate is locked, unable to gain access."
"They didn't go past it," Urquhart said. "I don't know why yet. That's one of the things we're looking into."
Urquhart said the bodies were found by a co-worker of one of the victims who had come to the house because one of the victims, who works for the U.S. Postal Service, did not report to work.
The bodies were found on a rural property that includes a house and a mobile home at the end of a long dirt road. The property is near this town about 25 miles east of Seattle.
Mark Bennett, a family friend, said the Andersons lived in a house there, and their daughter Michele lived on her parents' property in a mobile home with a male companion.
Bennett said he spoke with Judy and Wayne Anderson on Christmas Eve and tried to call them Christmas Day but could not reach them. He told reporters he came to the property Wednesday morning after seeing the home on the news.
"I didn't want to believe what I heard and saw, so I drove over," he said.
Autopsies have not been performed, but the cause of death was apparently gunshots, Urquhart said. The six were likely killed late afternoon or early evening on Christmas Eve, he said.
Ben Anderson, who said he was the grandson of Wayne and Judy Anderson, told reporters outside his grandparents' property late Wednesday that money could have been a factor in the deaths.
"She felt she wasn't loved enough and everyone didn't appreciate her and she was pushed out of everyone's life," he said, referring to Michele Anderson.
A message left Wednesday night at a telephone listing for a Michele Anderson in the Carnation area was not immediately returned.
Urquhart declined to say where on the property the victims were found, other than to say they were "not found in the same room." As investigators searched the property, they removed a black pickup truck.
Bennett, who was not the person who found the bodies, said Wayne Anderson is a Boeing Co. engineer and Judy Anderson works for the post office in Carnation.
"It's shocking," said Don Lovett, owner of Pete's Grill and Pub in downtown Carnation. "It's a real small community out here, even being so close to a metropolitan area. We're really familiar with folks out here."