Careaga Family Murder Sentenced Men

3 Men Sentenced to Life for Washington Family Murder Linked to Drugs and Money

In 2017, a horrific crime shook Washington state when three men were found guilty of murdering a family over alleged disputes involving drugs and money. The Kitsap Sun reported that Superior Court Judge Kevin Hull sentenced Danie Kelly Jr., 45, Robert Watson III, 52, and Johnny Watson, 50, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On Tuesday, each man received four life sentences, one for each victim of first-degree murder, along with additional time for attempted murder convictions and firearm enhancements.

The victims, 37-year-old Christale Careaga, 16-year-olds Hunter Schaap and Johnathon Higgins, and 43-year-old John Careaga, were discovered in their burned home west of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula. While the bodies of Christale, Hunter, and Johnathon were found inside the house on January 27, 2017, John Careaga’s remains were later located in a burned truck at a tree farm.

The Careagas were known for owning a successful Mexican restaurant in Bremerton. Court documents revealed that John Careaga had also been involved in smuggling cocaine from California to sell locally every few months. His dealings brought him into contact with Robert Watson, identified by detectives as a leader of a local chapter of the Bandidos motorcycle club, though the investigators clarified the club was not connected to the killings.

The situation escalated when Careaga’s usual partner ceased selling, and during a subsequent trip to California to obtain drugs, Watson followed him closely. The tensions between them intensified, leading up to the day of the tragic event.

It was also mentioned in court that Careaga had reportedly hidden large sums of money under his home, but this was never recovered. Detectives noted that in 2017, over $300,000 was deposited into Watson’s accounts, with many deposits untraceable.

Murderers of Careaga Family Washington

Kelly, described as a “hang-around” of the Bandidos and a former close friend of Careaga, fell out with him before the murders. A neighbor reported hearing gunshots from the Careaga residence on the day of the killings and saw John Careaga’s truck speeding away, driven by Kelly with another car in pursuit.

Throughout the trial, defense attorneys challenged the prosecution’s timeline and the reliability of cellphone towers used to track the defendants, arguing that there was no evidence of theft from the Careaga’s home.

Family members of the victims shared their grief in court, describing the deep loss to their blended family. They remembered John Careaga as a devoted father and uncle, Christale Careaga as a vibrant and charismatic presence, Johnathon Higgins as a gentle giant, and Hunter Schaap as a brave young man who had dialed 911 on the night of the attack to report the intrusion.

Recent Posts