Sheriff on triple murder case: 'We've stopped the investigation'

Sheriff on triple murder case: 'We've stopped the investigation'

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- There's a sense of emptiness for people who want someone prosecuted for killing three people in West Valley. Kevin Harper is now doing almost ten years, but for lesser crimes. During his sentencing, he insisted there's someone else and suggested he knows who.

Moments before going to prison for almost a decade, Kevin Harper proclaimed his innocence and, told the court he has more information about the West Valley triple murder case. Sheriff Ken Irwin tells KIMA none of it's true.

"In your hearts Detective Johnson too, Detective Udell, you know who did it," Kevin Harper said in court. 
"Do you know what he means by that?" KIMA asked Sheriff Ken Irwin.
"Isn't that telling?" Irwin asked. "Isn't that telling right there? Isn't that telling?"
"So there aren't any other suspects?" KIMA asked.
"No," he responded.

All along Harper has insisted it was someone else. He said he's willing to testify in any other trial and, blamed deputies for their examination of a dump truck that collected trash in Harper's neighborhood.

"You guys went and dug more evidence out of a dump truck and didn't even test it because you guys had the right guy," Harper said in court. "That doesn't make sense. You guys, that's your job!"

Irwin says the dump truck was checked thoroughly and nothing was found. Still, he admits his office made mistakes. The biggest being the failure of deputies to document a witness statement. Prosecutors didn't know about it and that oversight changed the whole case.

"Our takeaways are better communication throughout with the prosecutor's office, within the office," Irwin said.

It's a takeaway that rings hollow in this case. Irwin says there's nowhere else to turn.

"We've stopped the investigation," he said. "We feel like we have the one suspect responsible. We're left unsatisfied as is everyone else with the need for justice."

He says Harper's speech was a desperate attempt to get the public to believe him. Irwin maintains there is no mystery about who killed Bill, Pauline and Bettye Goggin.

Prosecutors plan to file a direct appeal to be able to try Harper for the murders. If any new leads develop, Harper's plea deal obligates him to testify if he has any information.