It’s hard to fathom the tragedy that’s befallen the Pettersen family of Spokane.
Three of Roy and Frances Pettersen’s eight children have been murdered since 1981, their bodies dumped near Upriver Dam.
“We’ve just had a bad, bad, bad deal,” Rolf Pettersen, the victims’ brother, said Wednesday.
Sixteen years ago, his sister, Margaret “Margie” Quaschnick, was beaten to death.
Six years ago this month, a brother, Barney Pettersen, died after being beaten about the head and shoulders and dragged under a car for nearly a mile.
On Tuesday, a second brother was killed.
Someone shot the 38-year-old Peter Pettersen in the chest, then pushed his body out of a car on Upriver Drive. A jogger found the unemployed fiberglass worker about 8:30 a.m. under a guardrail.
All three murders are unsolved, a fact that adds to the family’s pain. Detectives questioned suspects in the murders of Quaschnick and Barney Pettersen, but no one was ever arrested.
Relatives suspect Roy Pettersen died of a broken heart after his daughter’s murder. Frances Pettersen died just before her son, Barney, was killed in 1991.
“You can’t believe what this family has been through,” said Diana Chaney, a sister.
Sheriff’s Lt. John Simmons said Wednesday his detectives have few leads in Peter Pettersen’s murder.
Rolf Pettersen said his brother had argued with someone the morning of his death. He has provided detectives with some names and is frustrated that no one has been arrested.
“I just don’t understand the system,” he said.
Simmons said his detectives hope to question several people in the coming days.
“Given the people he associates with, we have quite a wide field to cover,” he said. “But we’ll get something.”
Peter Pettersen had a long criminal record, including convictions for burglary and drug possession.
But relatives said Wednesday that was only a small part of the man, and nothing for which he should have been murdered.
“He had a lot of good friends who he would do anything for,” Chaney said. “Everybody liked Pete.”
His wife, Casey Pettersen, said until recently he worked at a company in the Spokane Valley that manufactures hot tubs. An injury forced him off the job, and he wasn’t working at the time of his death, she said.
“He was a good father to our two kids,” Casey Pettersen said. “He taught me things about patience and love I’d never known. He didn’t know what kind of an influence he had.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo Graphic with map: Pettersen family murders
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: PETTERSEN FAMILY MURDERS Three members of the Pettersen family of Spokane have been murdered since 1981 - Margaret Quaschnick and her brothers Barney and Peter Pettersen. None of the crimes have been solved. 1. April 14, 1981: Margaret “Margie” Quaschnick, 27. Beaten and dumped into the Spokane River one-half mile southwest of Upriver Dam. 2. Dec. 4, 1991: Barney Pettersen, 29. Beaten and dragged behind a car at Koren Street and Parkwater Avenue near Felts Field. 3. Dec. 23, 1997: Pete Pettersen, 38. Shot in the chest and dumped on Upriver Drive about one mile southwest of Upriver Dam.