Detectives say a motive for a recent murder-suicide that left a respected and well-known Kennewick family dead may never be clear.
Ten days before Doug Brown shot his wife and daughter Dec. 11 inside their five-bedroom home in the Panoramic Heights neighborhood, he turned in two shotguns and ammunition to the Kennewick Police Department.
Doug shot his wife, Elena, both 64, and their developmentally disabled daughter, Carmina, 27, likely while the pair was sleeping in their bedrooms, detectives said. A 12-gauge shotgun was found next to Doug.
When Doug dropped off other guns at the police station earlier in the month, he didn’t say why he was getting rid of them.
“(Doug) just wanted to hand over all the guns and wanted them destroyed,” Detective Jose Santoy told the Herald.
Detectives discovered through interviews that Doug also had given away ammunition to friends before the shootings, though at the time the friends didn’t find the gesture odd.
(Doug) just wanted to hand over all the guns and wanted them destroyed.
Detective Jose Santoy, Kennewick police
And investigators said there was nothing like a suicide note left behind to indicate what triggered the violence or if the shooting was planned.
“In most cases like this, where the defendant is dead, the why question is virtually never answered,” said Detective Sgt. Randy Maynard.
Police, citing medical privacy issues, would not talk about whether Doug had been treated for any mental health problems.
A caretaker found the bodies shortly before 1 p.m. at the home on the 2600 block of South Kellogg Street. A foreign exchange student also lived at the home but had left for school about 7:10 a.m.
Investigators say the shootings could have happened anytime between 7:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., though they likely were earlier because the victims were in their pajamas, detectives said.
There was no evidence of a struggle and police described the conditions inside the home as “immaculate.”
Coroner John Hansens told the Herald the victims each died of a single gunshot wound and there was no other injuries. Autopsies were not done, though toxicology tests were planned for Doug to determine if there were any drugs or alcohol in his system.
Police did not find any open alcohol containers or evidence of drugs at the home. And there was no evidence or reports that either woman was abused, detectives said.
Former caretakers hired to help out around the house have told police that the Browns devoted much of their lives to caring for Carmina, detectives said.
Friends, family and neighbors have described the Browns as “pillars of the community” who were heavily involved in Tri-City organizations and neighborhood groups.
“They have told us they have no clue what happened, and we are talking to some of (the Browns’) best friends,” Maynard said. “It’s hard to figure out.”
They have told us they have no clue what happened, and we are talking to some of (the Browns’) best friends. It’s hard to figure out.
Detective Sgt. Randy Maynard, Kennewick police
Doug and Elena were retired Navy officers. Doug worked as a consultant and Elena was an intelligence analyst. Carmina worked at Goodwill Industries. They lived in the Tri-Cities for 11 years.
Elena helped start Modern Living Services, which provides housing, life skills and educational resources to people with developmental disabilities. She was also a board member of The Arc of Tri-Cities.
Doug was president of the Panoramic Heights Homeowners Association and involved in the Horse Heaven Hills Kiwanis Club.
Doug was also an avid long distance runner who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013 when the bombs went off.
Modern Living Services is holding a vigil for the family from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at The Arc of Tri-Cities, 1455 S.E. Fowler St. in Richland.