Prosecutors say brothers may have killed 7 people

Two additional victims linked to White Swan homicides

YAKAMA NATION, Wash. — Two brothers accused of fatally shooting five people in White Swan last year may face federal charges in connection with the killing of two more people on the Yakama Nation Reservation.

James Cloud and his brother, Donovan Cloud, were arrested after authorities said they shot and killed five people June 8, 2019 at a house on Medicine Valley Road in White Swan.

At a hearing Tuesday morning, federal prosecutors said the brothers may face new charges in connection with two other killings. Few details were shared at the hearing, but attorneys said the two victims were killed in an incident related to the other killings and their bodies were found recently.

While the identity of the victims was not disclosed in that meeting, previous information released about the case suggests prosecutors may be referring to the case of  two California men — Josiah Hilderbrand and John Cleary — who went missing June 7, 2019 on their way to a concert in George, Wash.

Their car was found abandoned in a Wapato orchard just hours before Michelle Starnes, Thomas Hernandez, Catherine Eneas, Dennis Overacker and John Cagle were fatally shot in nearby White Swan.

Roadworkers found the bodies of Hilderbrand and Cleary on Aug. 5, 2019 while working on a section of U.S. Highway 97, about 10 miles south of Toppenish.

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies previously told KAPP-KVEW they were investigating the possibility that the disappearance of the two California men may have been connected to the White Swan homicides.

James Cloud and Donovan Cloud have both been charged with carjacking, kidnapping and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with another incident related to the fatal shootings on Medicine Valley Road.

Federal court documents show just one murder charge has been filed so far — against James Cloud. According to those documents, he “did unlawfully kill D.O. by shooting him with a rifle.” James Cloud has also been charged with assaulting a victim identified as J.V. with a deadly weapon.

At the hearing, prosecutors said charges are pending in connection with the remaining four victims; if convicted — with those additional charges — the brothers could be facing life in prison.

However, defense attorneys expressed concerns about potential charges stemming from the two additional victims; if charged with and convicted of those killings, they said the brothers could be facing the federal death penalty.

While capital punishment has been abolished in Washington State, “the federal death penalty applies in all 50 states and U.S. territories but is used relatively rarely,” according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

With a trial scheduled for January, defense attorneys said they need to know all the charges their clients are facing soon in order to prepare their defense.

Prosecutors said they’re still waiting on evidence from the new case and cannot yet make a charging decision, let alone discuss whether the death penalty may be pursued.