A couple who just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary were shot to death early Wednesday, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department said.
Four juveniles, all from the Quincy area, were arrested at a rural home in the slayings of Homer and Vada Smithson, officials said.
The juveniles - two boys and a girl, all aged 15, and one 16-year-old boy - were held in the Grant County Jail and were awaiting arraignment Thursday in juvenile court. Officials were not releasing many details.
“They all lived in the same house,” said Chief Deputy Lari Dahl of the suspects. “The specific motive is not clear at this point.”
Dahl said she did not think there would be additional arrests.
The couple called a son in Wenatchee early Wednesday to report they had heard noises in their rural home, authorities said.
The son called 911, and deputies who arrived at about 2:30 a.m. found Vada Smithson dead in the living room.
The 88-year-old died of multiple gunshot wounds, officials said.
Homer Smithson, 89, was found in a bedroom and was airlifted to Deaconess Hospital in Spokane with multiple gunshot wounds. He died at the hospital about 7 a.m., the sheriff’s department said.
Autopsies were scheduled for today in Spokane.
The couple’s home is about four miles from Interstate 90 off Adams Road. Investigators recovered a gun from the scene, but said they were unsure whether it was connected to the slayings.
Grant County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Pratt said the investigation was being conducted at three different locations. But he would not identify the other locations.
Neighbor Wanda Lankhaar said the couple lived alone.
“They were real nice old people,” she said Wednesday.
“He was real involved in community affairs, just kind of a community leader, and just a kind of person everybody liked,” said Bob Smith, a friend of the couple. “And she was just the nicest lady you’d ever want to be around.”
The Smithsons celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary May 7, according to family members. They were married in Wenatchee in 1927.
Homer moved to Washington state from Kansas, and raised apples and pears in the Blewett Pass area. He was a past president of the Blue Bird fruit packing cooperative.
Vada worked at local packing houses while raising two children. The couple had 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
The Smithsons moved to Quincy several years ago because Homer wanted to return to flat land that reminded him of his native Kansas, according to a relative. The couple raised cattle and grew alfalfa, sweet corn and other crops and kept a wildlife preserve on the ranch.
Last December, Homer was awarded the Farmer of the Year Award by the Upper Grant Conservation District.