Kitsap County quadruple murderers sentenced to life in prison without parole

One of Kitsap County's most horrific homicide cases has come to a close, and now three men who murdered four people in 2017 will go to prison for life without the possibility of parole.

On April 5, 2024, Danie Kelly Jr. and brothers Robert and Johnny Watson were found guilty of murdering John Careaga, his wife Christale and their two kids, Hunter and Jonathan, in Seabeck, Washington.

The jury found each of the men guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of first-degree premeditated murder, attempted murder and first-degree arson.

After years of waiting, Ashlynn Withem, the daughter of Christale and sister of Jonathon, said without the death penalty in Washington state, as long as all the killers remain locked up forever, that will suffice and give her family the justice they have spent seven years waiting for. 

"I'm so happy that we can finally just put them to rest, and it's done. They will never be able to hurt someone else again. No other family of them will be able to feel this," said Withem. "We did it. You guys can finally breathe and just rest. It's done."

three men in court

Robert and Johnny Watson, and Danie Kelly Jr. (FOX 13 Seattle)

After the verdict was read a month earlier, Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese thanked the prosecutor's office and his staff for the work done on the case, choking up with emotion at one point during the news conference.   

"I've never really been prouder of the effort that people in our agency and all of our collaborative partners have made," said Sheriff Gese. 

Detective Lissa Gundrum was at the forefront, dedicating five years solely to solving this case. Her team's work in collaboration with the FBI Seattle office collected 1,800 pieces of evidence. It finally led to the apprehension of the three suspects in a carefully orchestrated operation that brought a wave of hope for justice across the county.

The trial began in November 2023, and a verdict was reached in April 2024.

The investigation into the quadruple murder began after first responders discovered a tragic scene; a home on fire with the bodies of 16-year-old Hunter Schaap, 16-year-old Jonathon Higgins and 37-year-old Christale Careaga inside, killed "execution-style."

John Careaga, 43, was found dead several days later inside his torched pickup truck at a tree farm.

image of the four victims

From back to front, left to right: Johnathon Higgins, 16; Hunter Schaap, 16; John Careaga, 43; and Christale Lynn Careaga, 37. (Family photo)

Prosecutors argued that Kelly and the Watson brothers were motivated by drugs, money and personal conflicts. Detectives said Kelly and John Careaga had a close friendship while dealing drugs together, but things escalated after Kelly stole money from him.

Investigators said Careaga was stashing hundreds of thousands of dollars behind his home, but the money was missing from the property after the murders. During this time, Robert Watson's bank accounts were growing with large, unexplainable sums, according to court records.

Prosecutors also used cell phone data to prove the trio carried out the murder, saying Robert Watson lured John Careaga away from his home before the murders took place, phone tower data showed.

The three men were originally arrested and booked into jail in June 2022, five years after the murders. Kelly and Robert Watson are known to be associated with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, though the club is not believed to have been involved in the murders.


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