An elderly woman who feared eviction from her Washington state home is charged with first-degree murder and assault after shooting her roommates last month.
Beverly Jenne, 85, remains held on $1 million bond in the grisly incident that cut short the life of Janet Oyuga, 37, and critically injured her older sister Angela Oyuga, local station KOMO News reported.
Police believe Jenne killed Janet first before ambushing Angela when she arrived home from work Dec. 19. Officers arrived to the residence in the Seattle-area suburb of Federal Way to find both victims with multiple gunshot wounds.
Janet was pronounced dead at the scene, but Angela survived despite being shot several times in the chest and back.
Initially, authorities were unsure who shot the sisters but quickly identified Jenne as a suspect. The elderly woman was rushed to a Tacoma hospital after cops found her trying to strangle herself with an extension cord inside the home.
On the bed where she’d been siting was a revolver with six spent cartridges, indicating all the rounds had been fired, according to charging documents obtained by The Seattle Times. Inside, authorities would also find a bloody hammer and screwdriver in the kitchen and a pool of blood on the floor.
Prosecutors said Jenne had owned the home for some 40 years before losing it to foreclosure last March. The new buyer signed a lease-to-own contract with the Oyuga sisters, who allowed Jenne to stay there temporarily so that she wouldn’t become homeless.
“[The] African culture teaches you to extend grace to those who need it support the needy, more so the elderly, the children and the sick,” local Pastor Festus Gumbo said two of the sisters, who moved to the U.S. from their native Kenya for a better life.
The pair were also working to support relatives back home.
“They thought it wasn’t going to take a long time before the previous owner of the house to move out,” Gumbo told Q13 FOX News. “Little did they know that the previous owner had plans of not wanting to move, going by what happened.”
At some point, the unconventional living arrangement turned sour and the octogenarian feared Janet was preparing to give her the boot.
The home’s new owner, a Sammamish man, contacted police just after midnight Dec. 19 after receiving a shocking call from one of his tenants saying she’d been shot. It was Angela. Authorities found the 44-year-old fighting for her life in an upstairs bedroom and took her to a hospital in critical but stable condition.
There, she told officers she wasn’t sure who shot her but remembered seeing a shadowy figure in the kitchen as she walked up the stairs. Meanwhile, her sister already lay dead on the floor near the rec room.
In charging documents, Senior Deputy Prosecutor for King County Terence Carlstrom argued Jenne “clearly harbored significant animosity towards Ms. [Janet] Oyuga that culminated in shooting her multiple times (including in the back) and killing her.”
In a handwritten letter later found in the suspect’s car, Jenne also smeared Janet as “not a nice person.”
“She drove me to this,” it begins, going on to detail in-house conflicts and accusing Oyuga of taking her belongings. “Janet just pushed and pushed and I just couldn’t cope anymore as I had no one to help me … I think she was getting ready to [e]vict me and I’m 85 and no place to go.”
The note, signed and dated on the night of the incident, also referenced a cemetery plot and specified that Jenne didn’t want to be buried near her former husband, the charging documents state.
Jenne was arraigned at the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Monday and remains in police custody. Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the Oyuga sisters are mourning and have launched a GoFundMe page to fly Janet’s remains back home to Kenya.
In another blow to the surviving Oyuga sister, the home at the center of the case was engulfed in a house fire of still-undetermined cause in the early morning hours of Dec. 30. Local station Q13 reports the blaze destroyed everything the sisters owned. Angela Oyuga had been released from the hospital at the time of the fire but was not in the home when the blaze started.
“Angela definitely needs support,” said Gumbo, “not only people from people who come from Kenya, but also this whole community,”
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