‘My mother was a sweet, little old lady’: Woman murdered, daughter injured in knife attack

EVERETT, Wash. – Two men are behind bars in connection to a murder and assault near the city of Snohomish.

Family members told Q13 News that 78-year-old Barbara Decker was killed and her 62-year-old daughter, Janine Shaffer, was seriously injured when police say a contractor’s nephew attacked them both with a knife.

Janine’s brother, Mark Glover, said his sister is getting better but he is torn between grief and anger.

Police arrested a 31-year-old Everett man for suspicion of first-degree murder. They also arrested his uncle, the man the victim’s family says they had hired to make repairs at the home, on outstanding warrants.

“My mother was a sweet, little old lady,” said Glover.

Glover said his mother was brutally murdered Sunday at her home on 212th Street Southeast. His sister was also seriously hurt in the attack.

“What would drive a guy like that to murder my sweet, little, old, gray-haired mom? I’m not sure what it could be,” he said.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said they received a 911 call from Glover’s sister on Sunday, saying she had been attacked and her mother had been killed.

Investigators said a witness to the crime, the suspect’s 46-year-old uncle, told detectives he had been hired to do construction work on Decker’s bathroom.

Police said the uncle brought his nephew along for the job – but police say the 31-year-old Everett man attacked and killed the 78-year-old woman, and then attacked her 62-year-old daughter with a carpet knife.

According to the Associated Press, a probable cause affidavit filed Tuesday in Everett District Court says 31-year-old John Kuljis attacked them with a knife used to cut carpet. The uncle told officials that they fled after the attack and the nephew threw the knife out the window. Kuljis is being held on $1.5 million bail. A detective said investigators have found no motive for the attack.

“My sister, she’s tough as nails,” Glover said.

Investigators said the uncle and nephew both left the rural neighborhood and allegedly threw the murder weapon out of a car window.

“Kind of worrisome, right?” neighbor Dave Schultz said after hearing about the attacks. "Because, unless it’s somebody you know for a long time or you got this referral, you don’t really know, you’re kind of taking a chance.”

That’s the chance Glover said he took by asking the suspect’s uncle to do construction work at the home in exchange for a pickup truck. Glover said he knows the contractor but had no idea his nephew would be assisting.

“He said it was his nephew and his nephew was having some problems,” Glover said. “I understand trying to help your nephew, I wish he had erred on the side of caution.”