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Friday, February 23, 2024
Feb. 23, 2024

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Man arrested in disappearance of Thurston County couple was tenant, police say


Prosecutors say a Thurston County couple who went missing were likely killed by a man renting from the husband, and that the suspect learned he might be evicted.

Timothy Burke appeared in Thurston County Superior Court on Monday, where a judge found probable cause for two counts of first-degree murder in the death of wife and husband Karen Koep and Davido, who went missing a week ago.

According to court documents, Koep’s office manager called the Sheriff’s Office for a welfare check on Nov. 13 after Koep didn’t show up at work, and said nobody had heard from the couple since Nov. 10.

No one at the couple’s home east of Lacey answered when deputies knocked on the door, a prosecutor wrote in a statement supporting probable cause. They went inside and found two large blood stains in the living room, according to the statement. A sergeant and lieutenant at the scene believed there was more blood than someone could survive losing, according to court papers.

A prosecutor wrote that someone had apparently used bleach and a vacuum to try and clean the blood. Deputies found two bullet holes in the wall, and neighbors said they heard gunshots Friday or Saturday night, according to court documents.

Evidence suggested someone was dragged to the garage, where the trunk of a car might be, court papers say. Koep’s vehicle was missing and the deputies did not find any bodies in the house.

Davido, who legally has no surname, owned property on Stedman Road Southeast and he allowed people to stay in campers and garages on the land regardless of whether they could pay, according to prosecutors. A detective found calls to 911 logged from Burke. A close friend of Davido’s told law enforcement he thought Davido was going to evict Burke.

During the investigation, a detective received a partially completed eviction notice for Burke written by Davido, and the detective learned Burke reported to law enforcement that his landlord was plotting a story to get him evicted, according to court documents.

Davido’s debit card was used on Nov. 12 at two credit unions, a prosecutor wrote. Surveillance footage from the credit unions showed a man and a vehicle, according to the statement, which was sent to law enforcement in the area. The vehicle in the footage was not Koep’s, according to court papers.

Lacey police reportedly found Koep’s vehicle that night, abandoned. They looked inside and saw what appeared to be blood in the trunk, the prosecutor wrote.

Later, police found Burke driving the vehicle seen in the credit unions’ security video, according to the prosecutor’s statement. He had a semi-automatic pistol in his pocket, and was detained on suspicion of identity theft for using Davido’s debit card, prosecutors wrote. Forensics testing later showed the pistol matched the casings found in the home, but the Sheriff’s Office could not establish probable cause at that time and released Burke.

The day of Burke’s release, his vehicle was processed and authorities found .45-caliber bullets and reddish stains, according to the statement. The car tires were covered in mud, as if they had been taken off-road, according to court papers.

On Friday, investigators acquired emails written by Burke that were “very negative regarding Davido,” according to a prosecutor. In one email, the statement said, he accused Davido of putting something in the water.

The same day, deputies found Burke hiding off the side of a trail and arrested him. A judge denied him bail at Monday’s court hearing. He remained in the Thurston County Jail on Tuesday evening.