Edmonds man who said he ‘saw demons’ charged with wife’s murder

John C. Shipley of Edmonds was charged Monday in Snohomish County Superior Court with second-degree murder in the July 29 death of his 66-year-old wife Susan Shipley in their Westgate-area home. The couple had been married 44 years. (See our earlier story here).

According to documents filed with the court, on July 29 at 4:49 p.m. John Shipley called 911 and informed the dispatcher that he had attempted to murder his wife, later identified as Susan Shipley. He provided an address in the 2300 block of 94th Ave. W. and told the dispatcher that he was waiting for police to “come and kill him and send him to hell,” that he was “possessed by demons,” that he was “sub-human,” that today was “judgment day,” and that his judgment was to kill his wife. He said he would wait there and hope that police arrive quickly and shoot him. Throughout the remainder of the call John Shipley can be heard saying in a soft voice “please kill me” while the dispatcher was dispatching units to the scene.

When officers arrived, they found Shipley inside the house next to a deceased person, later identified as his wife Susan Shipley. Officers observed “small smudges of blood” near the body and a kitchen knife with the sharp edge in the victim’s neck. The immediate cause of death was not apparent at the scene, and an autopsy was conducted on Aug. 2. While the final report is forthcoming, the medical examiner informed Edmonds police that the autopsy “clearly showed” that Susan Shipley died from asphyxiation due to strangulation, and that the knife wounds were “superficial.” The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Shipley was immediately taken into custody and held on $1 million bail. On Aug. 2 the court ordered a competency evaluation. Completed on Aug. 12, the examination determined that Shipley lacked the ability to assist in his defense, and recommended inpatient psychiatric treatment aimed at restoring his competency. But at his Monday arraignment, Shipley’s defense attorney testified that he was now competent to stand trial, and despite a request from the prosecution, Superior Court Judge Millie Judge did not order another competency evaluation.

Shipley’s trial is set for Nov. 10. He remains in custody in the Snohomish County Jail on $1 million bail.

— By Larry Vogel

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