March 2010 – Federal Way, WA

Woman Shot and Killed in Marital Conseling Session

Just-released court documents describe a terrifying scene of rage and terror at a Federal Way Church as a man shot and killed his wife during a marriage counseling session — in an attack in which the marriage counselor also feared for his life.

Police say the gunman, 41-year-old Charles Parsons of Lakewood pointed his gun at the marriage counselor first, telling him not to move, before firing at least six shots into his wife’s body.

The shooting took place Wednesday, one floor below a daycare center at the church and there were children upstairs at the center when the fatal shots rang out.

The victim, a 38-year-old Lakewood woman who is a mother of three children, was transported to Harborview and later died from her injuries.

According to the Certification for Determination of Probable Cause filed today by the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the marriage counselor thought he was also going to die when Parsons first pointed the gun at him, then turned the .45 calibor handgun on his wife and began firing.

The counselor told police he was in extreme fear and thought he was going to lose his life.

The document also states Parson’s wife, 38-year-old Carol Parsons, was shot in the left arm four times, in an apparent attempt to protect herself from the gunfire.

The couple had been married for 12 years and have three young children, but they divorced about a year ago.

The statement also indicates Charles Parsons wanted to reconcile with his wife, but she did not and was dating someone else. The document states the husband started the counseling session Wednesday afternoon, by telling the counselor and his wife that they would “get down to the nitty gritty today.”

During the session Parsons asked his wife if she was going to continue seeing her “boyfriend”. When she refused to end her relationship with the other man, walked across the room to his coat and retrieved the gun.

After the shooting, Parsons placed the gun on the hood of his truck, called 911 and lay on the ground until police arrived.

Carol Parsons had been living in Maple Valley with her parents and the kids.

A friend of Charles Parsons says the accused shooter had called him and another friend just a few hours before the shooting and nothing seemed to be wrong.


Moments after his ex-wife was shot inside a Federal Way church, Charles Parsons called 911 and gave a chilling confession.

Parsons: “I just flew into a massive fit of rage and shot my wife during counseling.”

Operator: “OK. IS she conscious?”

Parsons: “I think she’s dead!”

Operator: “Where did you shoot her at?”

Parsons: “Inside the church.”

Operator: “I mean where on her body?”

Parsons: “I don’t know.”

Operator: “You’re her husband?”

Parsons: “Ex-husband.”

Operator: “Where’s the gun?”

Parsons: “On the hood of my car.”

Operator: “Where’s your wife?”

Parsons: “She’s inside the church. Here comes the police.”

Around the same time, 911 dispatch received another call from inside the church from counselor Tyler Stahl.

Stahl: “Yes, I finished the session. He pulled out a gun and emptied several shots into her. Oh, God!”

Operator: “How many times? Three? Do you know?”

Stahl: “It sounded like six.”

Charles Parsons and his ex-wife, Carol Parsons, were at a couples counseling session at Calvary Lutheran Church when the shooting took place last Wednesday.

Carol Parsons was shot after she said she wouldn’t leave her boyfriend to try to get back together with her ex-husband. The couple, who had three children, divorced in 2008.

According to the statement of probable cause, Parsons got up to leave from the session, then turned around and pointed a gun at his wife. As his wife began to scream, Parson pointed the gun at the counselor and him not to move, detectives said.

Parsons then opened fire, hitting his wife at least three times in the torso, according to the document. He then called 911.

Parsons: “I’m laying down on the ground right now so the police can come and arrest me.”

Operator: “Are you laying on the ground?”

Parsons: “I’m laying on the ground.”

Carol Parsons, 38, was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she later died. The counselor was not injured.

He always seemed like a ‘teddy bear’

The victim’s family said they took Charles Parsons as the violent type. Carol Parsons’ brother, Howard Hales, said the man always seemed like a very gentle person.

“For the years that I knew him, he seemed like a big teddy bear,” he said. “He never seemed like anybody that was going to hurt you or try to hurt you.”

Hales said he doesn’t want Charles Parsons to receive the death penalty. He said the Parsons’ three children – ages 11, 9, and 5 – have suffered enough.

“The children. You know – they’ve lost so much with their mom right now and having their dad where he is today, is going to be enough for them,” he said. “One of them asked us if that was a possibility, and we told them that is not we wanted for their dad.”

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