A Washington father was charged with second-degree murder on Monday, almost two years after he allegedly gunned down his daughter’s boyfriend after he found the young man hiding under her bed.
Charles Heller, 49, opened fire on Dustyn Hunt in February 2019 after he found the 21-year-old man hiding under his daughter’s bed in the family home in Everett, authorities said.
“This was what I was waiting for,” his mother, Lisa Hunt, told the Seattle Times. “This charge means so much…I started to lose any type of hope for justice. I felt like it was slowly being forgotten about and brushed aside.”
On Feb. 25, 2019, Lauryn Heller, Hunt’s girlfriend, contacted emergency dispatchers around 11 p.m., the newspaper reported. The 20-year-old told investigators she and Hunt had snuck into the house without her parent’s knowledge. Her parents later heard voices and giggling coming from her bedroom.
Charles Heller allegedly texted his daughter, warning her that the guest had to leave the residence in 30 minutes, the Seattle Times reported. His daughter, who didn’t respond, left the home, while Hunt crawled underneath her bed, prosecutors said. While outside, the young woman saw her bedroom lights flip on and heard her father shouting.
Charles Heller, who discovered Hunt “in his underwear and an undershirt,” he told officials, began loudly cursing at him, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. His daughter rushed into her room to find her boyfriend scrambling to put his clothes on while staring down the barrel of her father’s gun. At that point she interceded, demanding for her father “to shoot her if he was going to shoot anyone,” prosecutors said.
As the firearm was pointed at Lauryn Heller, Hunt tried to knock the weapon out of Charles Heller’s hands. A brief scuffle ensued. He allegedly then shot Hunt once in the shoulder, left the room, plopped the handgun on a table, and told his wife to call an ambulance.
“It upsets me so much that this is my own dad,” Lauryn Heller told the Seattle Times. “But this is what happened and this is what I saw. I just want there to be justice in whatever way that’s served. I want his family to know peace. I want everybody to know what happened.”
Charles Heller, a long time gun owner, couldn’t offer a reason to detectives as to why he chose to arm himself to confront his daughter’s boyfriend.
“Something didn’t feel right about the situation,” he told detectives.
Hunt wasn’t armed, according to authorities.
“[Heller’s] finger was on the trigger the entire time he was pointing the weapon,” prosecutors wrote in charging documents. “This point was important to Lauryn, and played a large role in her fear, because her father, formerly in the military, has training in handling firearms and had taught her that you do not put your finger on the trigger unless you are prepared to shoot.”
Charles Heller, who was not arrested when charged, remains free pending his murder trial, county prosecutors confirmed to Oxygen.com on Thursday. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 3.
Hunt had been dating Lauryn Heller for roughly three weeks, according to the Seattle Times. The couple reportedly knew each other for a year prior to the deadly shooting.
“I know no matter what, nothing will bring my son back or take away from the everyday pain of knowing I will never see him again,” Lisa Hunt said. “He will never get married, have kids, have a career, come to family dinners. But this decision does make the pain a little easier to handle.”
Hunt was an aspiring musician, his mother said, who played the drums, guitar, and wrote hip-hop songs as a teenager.
It’s not entirely clear why it took nearly two years for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to bring charges against Charles Heller. While previously addressed the slow-moving case, officials stated that pending forensics tests had held up the investigation, according to the Seattle Times.
“It also has made it so I can breathe a bit better,” Lisa Hunt added. “Some of the anger I have inside, which is quite a bit, has been lifted."
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