Detectives say that on February 19, 2014, at 2 a.m. on a stormy night in the small town of Orting, Washington, homeowner Mike Compton thought he heard something in his garage. He went to check, but never made it out alive. Cops say mike was shot with his own gun after interrupting a burglary in progress.
"The crime scene, you know, everything was saturated with water. The wind was blowing sideways," said Fife Police Detective Tom Thompson. "I was the second one on scene. Immediately I noticed that Mr. Compton was in his front yard, a little bit away from the front door, and he was in his pajamas."
Seattle affiliate KCPQ reports that in the days leading up to his murder, neighbors chased off several prowlers -- but nothing as violent as this.
"Being a small town and with limited resources, we only had one officer on duty at the time," said Orting Police Chief Bill Drake.
Investigators believe the attacker didn't act alone.
"We know there's multiple people involved, whether there's three, four, two, five, we don't know that," said Bonney Lake Police Detective Brian Byerley.
"He's a burly guy, he's a 'man's man,' and we believe it would have been very difficult for an individual to overtake him while he's holding his own shotgun," said Det. Thompson.
Months pass and still no arrests. The tight-knit town was frustrated with what they say is the glacial pace of the investigation.
"When you lose a valued member of the community, there is the need for resolution of the issue, and I certainly sympathize with that," said Orting Police Chief Drake.
The Orting Police, desperate for help, called in the FBI.
"There are credible leads that we're pursuing," said FBI Special Agent Terry Postma.
Some of those leads, solid physical evidence, were sent to the Washington state crime lab
"We believe that there are members of the public that have information and know information about the persons involved, and we really need them to step forward and tell us what they know or what they have heard," said Postma.
And now could there be a break in the case. The FBI has just released a photo showing an e-cigarette wrapper found at the crime scene. The brand is Tsunami Premium Vapor. The type is Hawaiian Tropical E-Hookah E-Cig.
While multiple agencies continue to work the case, Mike Compton's family is left to pick up the pieces.
Mike's widow, Nikki, and another family member built a memorial to the man she was married to for almost 30 years. And as Mike's and friends try to cope, investigators still believe they'll solve this crime.