Jealousy eyed for possible role in murder-suicide

Jealousy eyed for possible role in murder-suicide »Play Video
Navy pilot John Robert Reeves, 25, committed suicide during a condo shooting New Year's Day in Coronado, Calif. Three others were shot and killed that night at the condo, including David and Karen Reis, siblings from Bakersfield. San Diego authorities have stopped short of blaming Reeves for the apparent murder-suicide. (Facebook photo)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Investigators trying to determine the motive behind a New Year's Day murder-suicide involving two Navy pilots and two other people were looking Thursday at whether jealousy might have played a role.

Authorities were looking at all aspects of what could have led up to the gunfire at a Coronado condominium, including whether there was a relationship or romantic feelings between the Navy pilot who committed suicide and the sister of the other pilot who died, sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser said.

John Robert Reeves shot himself in the head, and the three other people with him, including the sister, were murdered. They included Navy pilot David Reis, Karen Reis and Matthew Saturley.

"We are looking into all aspects, including the possibility there was some type of relationship between Karen Reis and John Reeves but that has not been confirmed yet," Fraser said. "That is one reason why we are still soliciting information from the public who may know about this."

Bakersfield remembers slain siblings >>

Authorities also were awaiting toxicology results to see if drugs or alcohol might have played a role.


 Karen and David Reis, siblings from Bakersfield, are seen in a 2011 photo provided by their family.

Fraser, however, cautioned that investigators might never determine the motive because there were no eyewitnesses to the 2 a.m. shooting at the condo where David Reis and Reeves lived with another Navy pilot who was out of town at the time.

Reeves and David Reis went out to a nightclub on New Year's Eve with another unnamed friend. At the club, they met Saturley, then returned to Coronado.

Reeves went into the condo first, followed by Karen Reis and Saturley, Fraser said. David Reis stayed outside to chat with the unnamed friend before the gunfire erupted. Reis rushed inside as the friend called 911.

Reeves, 25, of Prince Frederick, Md., and David Reis, also 25, of Bakersfield, were both training as F/A-18 fighter pilots assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at nearby Miramar Air Station.

The two Naval officers were in their final rung of training. Reeves had moved into the condo a few months ago, Fraser said.

The tragedy has rocked the tight-knit community of Naval aviators and the picturesque peninsula of Coronado, an enclave of 24,000 just across San Diego Bay that recorded only one homicide in 2010.

Fraser said there were no outstanding suspects in the case but declined to say if Reeves was the shooter.

"We don't have forensic evidence yet to say that definitively," he said.

Reeves' family members could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Reis siblings were close friends. Karen Reis, 24, graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2009, and coached volleyball twice a week to children 12 and younger. Saturley was a 31-year-old resident of Chula Vista.

Retired Naval pilot Steve Diamond said the case is shocking because it involves such high achievers.

"The first thing that most people think of even within the Navy community is how could such an enormously tragic thing happen involving people ... who are the cream of the crop, highly trained, highly educated, national assets basically," he said.

It takes years of training to get one's wings as a Navy pilot, and fighter-jet pilots are considered to be among the top in that group.

They undergo a battery of rigorous physical, psychological and background tests before finishing the highly competitive program. Their top-notch skills and mental toughness were featured in the movie "Top Gun" — parts of which were filmed at Miramar.

"I will tell you that Naval aviation will hurt regardless of what anybody finds out about anything because they're all close, because you go through a tough, rigorous kind of a ritual," said Ernie Christensen, a retired rear admiral who commanded the Navy's Top Gun fighter school for a time in the 1980s.