NEMAH — A brother is accused of murdering his identical twin early June 17 in the rural community of Nemah.
The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office was notified at 1:17 a.m. that a male caller had called 911 and stated he had just shot and killed his brother at a residence on North Nemah Road and that he was leaving the home.
“The caller identified himself as Thomas Shotwell, 26, and further stated that he was leaving the residence located on North Nemah Road. Shotwell also stated that he was leaving the gun he used to shoot his brother at the residence,” Matlock said. A motive is unknown at this time.
Multiple gunshot wounds
According to court documents, upon arrival at the home just west of U.S. Highway 101 south of Bay Center, deputies and officers found a deceased male, identified as Raymond Shotwell, with multiple gunshot wounds and worked to check if he was alive. They found him “wrapped in blankets lying on the living room floor,” and “cardboard boxes had been placed on top of the body as well.”
The man suffered devastating gunshot wounds to his head and upper torso. He also sustained a gunshot wound to his hand. Court documents allege officers suspected additional gunshot wounds to the man’s body.
Suspect initially in critical condition
Thomas was located after a search in an area of Bay Center in a locked vehicle and was reportedly suffering medical distress and “barely breathing.” Officers gained entry into his vehicle and secured him before he was transported to a medical facility. They also located another firearm, identified as an AR-15 rifle.
“It is believed that [Thomas] may have intentionally attempted to harm himself after the incident,” Matlock said. “[Thomas] is in custody under the guard of the Sheriff’s Office.”
He was transported to Willapa Harbor Hospital before being transported to a critical care hospital in Vancouver, where he remained unconscious and intubated immediately following the incident.
Thomas has since recovered from his “medical distress” and was booked into the Pacific County Jail on June 21, where he is being held without bail in light of the seriousness of his alleged crime.
The case was momentarily called at the end of the Pacific County Superior Court on June 18 for the entry of probable cause and was heard by Judge Don Richter. One count of first-degree murder was filed against Thomas.
“Given the, what appears to be, utter indifference for human life and extremely violent nature of this charge,” Pacific County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tracey Munger said. “We believe a no-bail hold would be appropriate in this case.”
“[We] expect he will be arraigned on that charge [June 25],” Pacific County Prosecutor Ben Haslam said.
An autopsy has been planned and will be performed by the Cowlitz County Medical Examiner’s Office. It could take up to several months for the official report to be completed.
It’s unclear what caused or provoked the shooting. Matlock initially stated the brothers lived together. However, investigators later learned that the brothers were identical twins and that Raymond lived with his father nearby, and Thomas lived with his mother at the home the incident occurred.
“[A] motive is unclear as to why the incident occurred,” Matlock said. “Law enforcement personnel processed the crime scene and will be continuing to investigate the incident. The Long Beach and Raymond police departments assisted the Sheriff’s Office with the incident along with the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office.”
The Shotwells are a prominent and respected family, with deep historical roots in the Willapa Bay area.