Did Graham pair die over a $50 debt?
A convicted killer shot a newlywed couple to death "execution-style" last weekend after he was insulted when he tried to collect a $50 debt...
Seattle Times staff reporters
TACOMA — A convicted killer shot a newlywed couple to death "execution-style" last weekend after he was insulted when he tried to collect a $50 debt, according to charging papers.
"From what we have seen, it could have been something that simple," said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Daniel Tavares Jr., 41, Tuesday with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, which could result in the death penalty if he's convicted. He was also charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm because as a felon he cannot carry a handgun.
He is being held without bail in the Pierce County Jail.
Sheriff's investigators said they were trying to determine if the $50 debt was the motive behind the slaying Saturday of Brian and Beverly Mauck, a popular young couple who had seemingly little in common with Tavares other than living a few doors from each other.
Jerry Costello, chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney for Pierce County, said the story about the debt was one of several that have emerged from the investigation. He said he's taking everything Tavares says "with a grain of salt."
Troyer said a debt and a few insults could actually be what led to the slayings. He cited Tavares' criminal history, which includes a conviction 16 years ago for killing his mother with a carving knife.
Pierce County prosecutors said they will spend the next month determining whether to seek the death penalty. Aggravated first-degree murder is punishable by either death or life in prison without parole.
Tavares' wife, Jennifer Tavares, 37, was charged Tuesday with one count of misdemeanor rendering criminal assistance and was released on $5,000 bail. Prosecutors say she lied to authorities in an attempt to protect her husband.
Prosecutors allege that Tavares went to Brian and Beverly Mauck's house in rural Graham around 7 a.m. Saturday to collect the debt. Tavares, who was released from a Massachusetts prison in June, and his wife had moved into a trailer on nearby property owned by his wife's brother about four months ago.
Charging papers say Tavares was insulted by Brian Mauck, 30, and "after spending 20 years in prison" he was not going to put up with being insulted. Tavares pulled out a. 22-caliber handgun and shot Mauck in the face, using a hand towel to muffle the sound, according to the papers. He then allegedly shot Mauck in the back of the head while Mauck was on the floor.
Prosecutors said Beverly Mauck, 28, witnessed the shooting and was shot when she tried to flee. Tavares dragged her body over her husband's body, prosecutors allege. He then allegedly covered the bodies with a blanket.
Around 11 that morning, Tavares' brother-in-law, Jeffrey Freitas, drove past the Maucks' home and noticed that a large panel was missing from the front door. He tried calling the couple, but when he failed to get an answer he went to the Maucks' house.
Freitas discovered the bodies and called police.
Investigators found bloody shoe prints on the floor and a bloody palm print on a doorjamb. Detectives seized a pair of shoes from Tavares with treads that match those that left the bloody impressions, charging papers said.
Prosecutors said Tavares and his wife offered conflicting stories when questioned by police.
Authorities said Tavares recently moved to Washington state to marry Jennifer, whom he met through a prison pen-pals program. According to Pierce County records, the couple were married July 30.
In July 1991, after getting kicked out of a Florida drug-rehab center, Tavares stabbed his mother, Ann, to death in Massachusetts, according to news accounts from the time. A man in a nearby apartment was hurt after trying to intervene.
It's unclear why Tavares killed his mother, but his father described him as a cocaine addict with a psychotic personality. Daniel Tavares Sr., of Zephyrhills, Fla., said his son has repeatedly threatened to kill him.
After Tavares' arraignment, dozens of the slain couple's friends and relatives gathered in the lobby of the Pierce County Courthouse to console each other, read the charging documents and hear prosecutors explain how the long court process typically unfolds.
Two of Beverly's brothers and Brian's sister talked about their siblings' vibrant, joyful energy, their winning smiles and their egalitarian friendliness. Brian worked at an Auburn air-conditioning company, and Beverly worked at a car dealership.
The family members did not discuss the slayings or the possibility that the death penalty could be imposed.
They said Beverly and Brian were devoted to each other and to living life to the fullest. Both loved to laugh and neither would have wanted to see loved ones nursing grief or anger, they said.
"They never liked to be sad and they wouldn't like us to be sad," said Brian's sister, Jennifer Heilbrun. "That's what's helping us get through this."
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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