Tracy Culton Charged With West Valley Triple Murders

Tracy Culton Charged With West Valley Triple Murders »Play Video
YAKIMA -- KIMA broke the story Tuesday, that a second person was charged with murder in the West Valley triple homicide from February.

We first told you about the suspect, Tracy Culton, in June, when she was only charged with burglary.

She told prosecutors she felt bad about what happened and was ready to tell all, then she changed her mind. It was a decision that could cost her big.

Culton was seen initially by prosecutors as a perfect witness. She admitted to planning the Goggin burglary, admitted to being there the night Bill, Pauline and Bettye Goggin were beaten to death, admitted to stealing Bettye's jewelry and selling it for drug money. And she came to investigators promising to come clean about murder suspect, Kevin Harper, his wife, Crystal West and his accused partner in crime, Tennance Buckingham.

Now, Culton is telling a different story and telling investigators to find another snitch.

"We were trying to get a more thorough statement from her. But that did not happen. I'm not sure (why she changed her mind). She was in jail. Sometimes that has an impact on people not wanting to cooperate with the state," said Yakima County Prosecutor Ken Ramm.

Prosecutors had hoped Tracy Culton would be the key to unlock so many of the unanswered questions about why the Goggin's were targeted, why what was supposed to be a simple burglary turned so violent and so deadly, and why so many people joined into the scheme to help get rid of evidence and protect Kevin Harper.

Harper's wife, Crystal West, is facing charges she tried to destroy evidence stolen from the home. Harper's friend, Tennance Buckingham, stands accused to trying to sell the victim's stolen property and lying to investigators to protect Harper.

Culton is no longer facing simple burglary charges. In fact prosecutors are now convinced the evidence could prove she actually helped Harper beat the Goggins to death back in February.

Like Harper, she too is now charged with three counts of first degree murder.

KIMA asked the prosecuting attorney if he could share any information about the evidence they have against Culton. He could not. But when asked if he believes she took part in the killings, Ramm said, "Based upon the evidence we have, yes."

Tracy Culton has a long criminal record including multiple convictions for identity theft.

KIMA was told that, unlike murder suspect, Kevin Harper, the death penalty is not an option for Culton.

Her next court appearance is next week. The trial in the Goggin murder case isn't expected to begin until early next year.