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Crime News Cold Cases

Three Men Arrested For Gruesome 2005 Murder Of Headless Woman Found In Puget Sound

Rumors swirled early in the investigation that Shanan Lynn Read was killed after using drugs in a Seattle apartment with a group of men. Although her death was initially investigated as a drug overdose, now officials say she was beaten to death. 

By Jax Miller
Police handouts of Brian Bourquard, Oscar Gonzales and Brandon Reeve

Three men are under arrest for the gruesome murder of a Washington mother 17 years ago.

The headless body of 33-year-old Shanan Lynn Read was found in a plastic container floating on the frigid waters of Puget Sound on Jan. 15, 2006. At the time, Read’s death was ruled as an accidental drug overdose until officials reclassified her death as a homicide more than two years later, according to the Seattle Times.

Homicide investigators worked on the theory that Read - who had a history of methamphetamine addiction - was intentionally killed by others who administered a lethal dose of drugs to the single mother of four.

Now, officials are walking back on their previous notions, announcing they’ve arrested three men they believe beat Read to death in 2005 before storing her body in a cabin for several months, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office in Washington.

Brian Anderson Bourquard, 39, was arrested in Philadelphia on Monday and charged with first-degree murder.

Brandon Michael Reeve, 42, was arrested in Sarasota, Florida, on Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder.

Oscar Cash Gonzales, 32, was arrested in Riverside, California, on Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder.

A fourth suspect, Anthony Marou Martinez, died over the course of the investigation.

The gruesome murder investigation began 16 years ago after a citizen found the “suspicious” container near Manchester and Blake Island before reporting it to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to the release. Fish and Wildlife officials discovered Read’s decapitated body inside and notified the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

Read was identified by her fingerprints. At the time, a missing persons report had not been filed, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Two months later, Read’s head “surfaced in the same general vicinity of Puget Sound,” according to the sheriff’s office. According to the Times, it washed up on a Port Orchard beach.

A forensic anthropologist from the King County Medical Examiner's Office said it was likely that Read's head was separated from her body due to decomposition and marine life activity, according to the Times. Investigators in 2008, however, said they were still looking into the possibility that Read could have been beheaded by another person. Kitsap officials did not disclose how they believed Read's head was removed in this week's release.

A police handout of victim Shanan Lynn Read

In March 2006 - before Read’s death was formally being looked into as a homicide -  a tip led county officials to four men accused of using meth with Read on the night of her murder, according to the Times. It was unclear if these four men were the same men arrested this week.

“We’re not labeling it a homicide, but it definitely is suspicious,” Deputy Scott Wilson said at the time. “We believe that her death took place in Seattle, and her body was dumped over there.”

Investigators said they developed leads over the years, eventually leading to narrowing in on the four recently-identified suspects within the last 10 months. It was unclear exactly how investigators came to the four men, but authorities paint a “grisly” picture of the crimes for which they’re accused.

Authorities say Read was struck in the head with a metal baton in August 2005 while at a Seattle apartment. Sometime later, she was placed into the plastic container before being taken to a Port Orchard cabin owned by one of the suspects’ families.

The theory was alluded to in both the Times and the Post-Intelligencer years ago, though no arrests were made.

“Read was left at the cabin for many weeks while two of the suspects returned frequently and poured chemicals onto her body to speed up the decomposition process,” Kitsap County officials wrote.

A fifth person, Michael Thomason, was reportedly enlisted to help throw Read’s body into the Puget Sound, according to county officials. He was later convicted of unlawful disposal of human remains.

Bourquard, Reeve, and Martinez are all being held in their respective states on $10 million bail each, according to Kitsap authorities. They await extradition to Washington to face charges.

Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved with the case, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, and local authorities.

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