A missing couple are feared dead. Their tenant is now charged with murder

Suspect Timothy Burke was going to be evicted by Karen Koep and her husband Davido before their disappearance, her sister tells Katie Hawkinson

Tuesday 12 December 2023 19:55 GMT
Davido and Karen Koep have been missing since 13 November.
Davido and Karen Koep have been missing since 13 November. (Pauline Dutton)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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On 13 November, police were sent to a couple’s home in Washington state after the wife failed to show up for work.

Soon after, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office announced that Karen Koep and her husband Davido were missing under “suspicious” circumstances.

After several days of interviews and investigating tips, the missing persons case turned into a murder investigation as officers arrested Timothy Burke on 17 November on two charges of first-degree murder and one charge of first-degree kidnapping.

Almost one month after their disappearance, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and Thurston County Medical Examiner confirmed they had located the bodies of Ms Koep and Davido, local outlet KIRO 7 reported. They both died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Ms Koep’s sister Pauline Dutton says the couple were generous and selfless people who may have been “taken advantage of” by Mr Burke, who she says was living on one of their rental properties - and facing imminent eviction. Police confirmed to The Independent on 12 December Mr Burke was the couple’s tenant.

Here’s what to know about the case:

The disappearance

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office first announced the “suspicious” disappearance of Ms Koep and Davido on 13 November.

Ms Dutton told The Independent she last heard from the couple a few days prior, when she spoke to her sister about Thanksgiving plans.

On 15 November, police identified the couple’s car in a nearby town and called on the public for assistance.

At that time, the sheriff’s office said “interviews have been conducted, surveillance video obtained and additional follow-up interviews conducted.”

The murder charges

On 17 November, when police announced they had arrested a 40-year-old suspect from Olympia, Washington who was known to the couple. Police confirmed to The Independent the man they arrested is Mr Burke.

The Thurston County Superior Court has denied bond or release to the suspect, according to a 20 November statement from the sheriff’s office.

On 2 December, Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders announced that two bodies found near Joint Base Lewis-McChord — a military base close to the couple’s property — were likely the bodies of Ms Koep and Davido. The first body was found by civillians in the area, and the second body was found nearby after a further search, CNN reported.

Officers confirmed their identity to local outlet KIRO 7 on 6 December. Ms Koep and Davido died of multiple gunshot wounds to their heads and bodies. Lieutenant Mike Brooks with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office told The Independent police believe they have recovered the weapon used as well.

The suspect

Mr Brooks confirmed to The Independent that Mr Burke was a tenant of the couple. Ms Dutton told The Independent Mr Burke lived on one of the couple’s rental properties, a group house rented out by the room. She said she “gathered” that Mr Burke did construction work for Davido instead of paying rent, but could not provide confirmation.

The couple were preparing to evict Mr Burke leading up to their disappearance, according to Ms Dutton. She said the property Mr Burke lived on “was a source of some stress” for the couple.

“I think they got taken advantage of for being kind to this gentleman,” she said.

Karen Koep was an “incredible chiropractor” and active member of her community, her sister says.
Karen Koep was an “incredible chiropractor” and active member of her community, her sister says. (Pauline Dutton)

Davido — who legally dropped his last name — had a criminal past and was incarcerated on drug charges, Ms Dutton previously told The Daily Beast. He was arrested in 1993 in connection with a federal investigation into passport fraud and spent 72 months in jail after he was convicted on one count of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, per The Daily Beast.

Ms Dutton told The Independent that Davido’s “mistakes are in the past,” and that he had a “golden heart.” She described Ms Koep — who worked as a chiropractor in Lacey, Washington — as an active and selfless member of her local community.

“She was not only a physical healer as a chiropractor, but she was a spiritual mentor and a good friend,” Ms Dutton said. “She went above and beyond connected with patients outside of the clinic.”

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