KIMA Digs into Past of West Valley Murder Suspect

KIMA Digs into Past of West Valley Murder Suspect
WEST VALLEY -- Kevin Harper has a history of theft and drug use that spans more than a decade. KIMA discovered new information on the suspect in the West Valley triple murder. Harper has a rap sheet that includes several felony convictions and dozens of arrests. So why was he out on the street?

Investigators believe Kevin Harper acted alone when he snuck into the Goggin's home through an unlocked door, and beat the three to death, likely with a hammer. They also believe this was a crime of pure convenience.

Detectives told Action News, Harper walked to the Goggin's home from his trailer about two miles away. They say he was likely high on meth when he killed the three, and took what he could carry, including a pistol, jewelry and a computer. Then, deputies say Harper used the Goggin's SUV to get out of the neighborhood. He then ditched it in a pond nearby.

From there, detectives theorize he just walked home. We’re told this all took place within a three mile radius. Harper's rap sheet includes more than 30 arrests beginning when he was just 16. Police said the young Harper busted into a home and stole credit cards, cash and jewelry.

Several arrests later, Harper was busted for stealing a car. A few years later, he's caught stealing guns from another home.

As with the Goggin case, investigators believe many of the crimes Harper committed through the years had one common denominator: a drug habit that just got more expensive with time. Our justice system is set up to lock away career criminals, but Harper's offenses were all property crimes, not violent crimes against people.

The randomness of this attack is not helping neighbors in Falcon Ridge sleep better at night. They told KIMA they know the justice system can only do so much.

"What are you going to do,” said Ray Vanderwall. “(Are) you going to put bars on all the windows and hire a fulltime security guard for every house? That’s not going to happen"

The Yakima County prosecutor already told KIMA this could become a death penalty case. That kind of case could cost the county millions. Because that money is not in the criminal justice budget, commissioners would have to pull the funds from some other source.

Harper's trial is currently set for the middle of April.