Shotgun blasts early Thursday killed two southern Spokane County residents who had baked pies for the elderly and delivered bread to the needy.
Two young men who accepted food, shelter and friendship from Allen and Trudy Mattausch are in jail, suspected of gunning down the well-known couple in their Waverly farmhouse.
Residents from Rockford to Tekoa, Wash., shook their heads in disbelief as news of the slayings spread across the Palouse. They wondered aloud about a world in which caring people such as the Mattauschs could meet such a violent end.
“Why someone would murder them, I don’t know,” said neighbor Herman Holling, 91. “They were so damn good-hearted.”
Cheyenne T. Brown, 20, and his friend, 19-year-old K.C. Therriault, were booked into the county jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. They are scheduled to make their first appearance in District Court today.
Friends and relatives said the victims had allowed Brown, a convicted felon, to live in a mobile home on their farm for the past several months.
He did odd jobs for room and board, according to the victims’ son, Richard Mattausch.
The couple even forgave Brown after he stole their pickup truck last October, their son said.
Brown served 60 days in jail and was ordered to pay Allen Mattausch $640 in restitution for the theft, according to court records.
But Richard Mattausch said his parents decided to “let bygones be bygones.” They invited Brown back to the farm at 36815 S. Dunn Road to work off the debt.
“Dad said, ‘You come down, and we’ll make this right,”’ Richard Mattausch said. “He wasn’t exactly a man who went to church every Sunday, but he lived it.”
Sheriff’s deputies said Therriault recently moved in with Brown.
The slain couple, married for 42 years, were well-known for their generosity in the farm towns of southern Spokane County.
“If there is any role model you would wish for in our society, they would be it,” Richard Mattausch said. “They didn’t have a dime, but they always had room for an extra plate at the table.”
Allen Mattausch, 66, was an active member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter and was willing to volunteer to help anyone who needed it, friends said.
Latah Mayor Chuck Crockett, who knew the man for nearly 50 years, said Mattausch would buy day-old bread from local bakeries and deliver it to low-income residents throughout the Palouse.
“If he felt someone needed help, he was right there,” said Crockett, choking back tears.
This past September, the retired postal worker, farmer and Army veteran was named an All-American Post Commander of the VFW.
Trudy Mattausch, 63, worked as a cook at the Good Samaritan nursing home in Fairfield and used to take home-baked cookies and pies in for the staff and residents.
“She was a wonderful lady with a great sense of humor,” said Virginia Langston, Good Samaritan administrator. “We’ll miss them both desperately.”
Sheriff John Goldman called the slayings a “very heinous crime” that “terrified this small community.”
The shootings apparently occurred sometime before dawn in a first-floor bedroom of the Mattausch home, Goldman said.
Both victims were shot in the head. The sheriff would not say whether they were killed in their sleep.
One of the couple’s four sons discovered their bodies about 3:30 a.m., when he arrived at the house to pick up something, Goldman said.
The son, who wasn’t identified, told deputies he saw his parents’ pickup truck heading north on U.S. Highway 195 as he was driving south from Spokane.
Later that day, Officer Ray Harding was patrolling near Mission Park in Spokane when he noticed two men in a two-tone Ford pickup acting suspiciously, Goldman said.
Harding was following the truck when an all-points bulletin came over the radio alerting authorities to be on the lookout for the stolen truck.
The officer stopped the truck and took Brown and Therriault into custody. Police and sheriff’s deputies reportedly found two guns in the pickup.
Brown has a history of felony convictions dating back to 1995. He has served time for forgery and car theft, records show.
In November, a state corrections officer urged a judge to keep the repeat offender behind bars for as long as possible.
“… Brown is continuing to go about his non-compliant anti-social criminal behavior,” Larry Young wrote in a memorandum.
Information about Therriault was sketchy Thursday. He has no felony convictions in Spokane County, and deputies are unsure of his connection to Brown.
“We’ve heard reports that they’re both from Montana, so maybe they know each other from there,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Reagan.
Many people who knew the Mattauschs said they weren’t surprised Brown was involved in their deaths.
“He just wasn’t the type of person I would have felt comfortable with,” said Mayor Crockett, who met Brown last November. “Apparently he was someone who led Allen to believe he was in need. He took him under his wing and trusted him.”
A group gathered at the Waverly tavern for coffee Thursday morning speculated that was the couple’s undoing.
“Kindness killed them,” said one woman, shaking her head. “Kindness killed them.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 Photos (3 Color); Map of Waverly area