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. The sheriff’s office said they “do not believe the couple survived the attack at their residence.”
Now, 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.
Here’s what to know about the case:
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
The latest update came 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.
Little is known about progress in the investigation following the arrest, including what police know about the apparent “attack” and where Ms Koep and Davido would be now should the murder suspicions be true.
Ms Dutton said she had not received significant updates from police since the arrest, but that she trusts the officers working on the case.
“I trust them,” Ms Dutton said. “They are 100 per cent taking care of this.”
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.
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.”