Shelton double murder suspect tracked down, kills himself in Oregon motel room

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SHELTON, Wash. – The suspect in a double murder in a Shelton home was tracked down and surrounded by law enforcement at a Motel 6 room in Pendleton, Oregon, where he shot himself and died after nearly a five-hour standoff, authorities said.

Pendleton, Ore., Police Chief Stuart Roberts identified the suspect as Jared Abernathy, 33, of Western Washington.

Roberts said a Pendleton officer located Abernathy’s car parked behind the Motel 6 in Pendleton just off Interstate 84 at about 1 p.m. Wednesday. Pendelton is about 67 miles southeast of Kennewick, Wash.

“Trained negotiators were able to establish communication with Abernathy at 3:14 p.m. after several failed attempts,” Roberts said. “Communications were maintained for almost five hours as Abernathy spoke to family, friends and negotiator(s). The ultimate goal of having Abernathy come out of his motel room peacefully ended at 8:06 p.m. when negotiators heard what sounded like a muffled report from a firearm.”

He was found dead inside the room.


The Mason County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday night that the suspect had committed suicide.

Earlier, the sheriff’s office said the negotiations with the suspect “ended as shots were heard from the room the suspect was in. A tactical team is entering the room.”

On Wednesday morning, police released the identities of the man and woman found slain inside a Mason County home Tuesday. Deputies said Kenneth Koonrad, 34, and Tara Abernathy, 32, were both found with apparent gunshot wounds.

Koonrad’s brother told Q13 News his family is devastated by what’s happened, adding that Kenneth and Tara had only been dating for a few weeks.

Neighbors in the quiet, tightly-knit community hope police make an arrest soon.

“That’s a horrific thing that happened to them, I don’t think they deserved that,” said neighbor Melody Larson.

Larson said her cul-de-sac in Shelton is shaken after two of her neighbors were found shot to death inside a duplex.

Neighbors said they recalled hearing gunshots but that isn’t out of the ordinary in this part of town.

“It was about 1 o’clock (in the morning), my dog went crazy,” said Larson. “And I was like, oh, somebody shooting off fireworks.”

But when Abernathy did not show up for work at the Washington State Department of Corrections, co-workers called police to check on her.

When police made their way inside the home, they found Koonrad and Abernathy shot to death.

Detectives from the Washington State Patrol crime lab scoured the scene for clues into the night.

“Detectives are still talking to family and friends and trying to determine what the relationships are and what associations everybody involved has,” said Lt. Travis Adams of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

The DOC said Abernathy had been working as a pharmacy technician since 2008 and had been recently promoted.

Despite the violence, deputies don’t believe the public is in any danger.

“We don’t have any indication that anyone else is in any danger or that there’s anyone running around Shelton that’s a danger to the public,” said Adams.

After the violence, many neighbors vowed to keep a close watch on each other.

“Well, it’s kind of gotten us to where we’re a little bit closer,” said Larson. “I know me and the girl next door keeps a look on our places.”