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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office

Murder victim’s family grateful for support

The parents of a woman found dead of a gunshot wound in her home on New Year's Day are thanking the community for the outpouring show of support.

 “There was so much evil when I walked into that house. The outpouring from her friends has really helped ease that,” said Toni Schmidt, mother of homicide victim Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34 (pictured).

More than 500 people attended Schmidt's memorial service on Sunday, with many standing in the hallways because they were not able to get in the room. Attendees included seven women who met Schmidt at a camp on Orcas Island when she was 19. They hadn't seen her in years, but made the drove from the Western Washington to pay their respects.

Toni Schmidt and Randall Schmidt were not able to greet everyone at the service, and they said Tuesday night that they want to make sure everyone knows how much they appreciate the support.

The Schmidts declined to discuss the details of the investigation into their daughter's death but said they feel the case will be solved.

They hinted at possible domestic violence issues with Schmidt, which they said were surprising at first because “she was an extremely strong and intelligent person,” Toni Schmidt said.

Schmidt was born in Spokane and graduated from Shadle Park High School and Eastern Washington University. She loved the ocean and was planning to scuba dive in Manila, Philippines when she went there for a two-week business trip for next month. She leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter.

Toni Schmidt called police after finding her daughter on Jan. 1 in her home on East Regina Avenue.

Sheriff's investigators arrived to find Schmidt dead in her bed with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved.

They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents. They seized the .25 semi-automatic handgun,, as well as .25 shell casing located on her bed, along with a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.

Detectives also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition. They also found a cell phone with its battery removed in a black purse on the kitchen table, according to the search warrant.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Homicide victim’s memorial is Sunday

A memorial service for a 34-year-old Spokane woman is scheduled for Sunday - one week after she was found dead of a gunshot wound.

Kimberly Rae Schmidt will be remembered at the Heritage Funeral Home, 508 N. Government Way, at 1 p.m.

Her coworkers at Pitney Bowes business-services company, where Schmidt worked as the leasing manager, are expected to attended.

Kathryn Epler worked for Schmidt and said she was a great boss and “very caring to everybody.”

Schmidt's murder has devastated her coworkers, Epler said.

“It's very hard to work,” she said. “We're all stunned that this could happen to someone who is so likable.”

Schmidt was planning a business trip overseas early next month, Epler said. She planned to spend her days off scuba diving, which Epler said was one of her passions.

“There's no way this was a suicide or anything like that,” Epler said.

Schmidt's mother found her dead in her home at 37 E. Regina Ave. Jan. 1.

The Medical Examiner's Office has not determined whether Schmidt's death was a homicide, but detectives are investigating it as one.

Schmidt was located in bed on her back with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved.

They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents. They seized the .25 semi-automatic handgun, as well as .25 shell casing located on her bed, along with a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.

Detectives also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition.

They also found a cell phone with its battery removed in a black purse on the kitchen table, according to the search warrant.

Schmidt was born in Spokane, graduated from Shadle Park High School and Eastern Washington University.

“Kim's pride and joy was her daughter and her hard work in dance and school,” according to her obituary. “Her favorite title was “Dance Mom” and enjoyed watching, with a little sadness how her —lil' monkey was growing into a young lady.” Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

7 guns found in homicide victim’s home

Detectives investigating the shooting death of a north Spokane woman found a handgun in a bag next to her body, according to documents filed Wednesday.

The gun was one of seven recovered from the home at 37 E. Regina Sunday night by Spokane County sheriff's detectives investigating the death of Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34.

They were called to the home about 2:30 p.m. after Schmidt's mother, Toni Schmidt, found Schmidt dead in her bed after coming to the home to check on her.

Kim Schmidt was located in bed on her back with a gunshot wound to the right side of her head. A lamp had been knocked over, and detectives noted blood smeared on the wall at the head of the bed that indicated Schmidt's body had been moved. They also found a small cloth, drawstring bag to Schmidt's left that had the front portion of the barrel of a gun visible, according to court documents.

Detectives obtained a search warrant and seized the gun, which was identified as a .25 semi-automatic handgun with a magazine containing five bullets. A .25 shell casing was located on the bed next to Schmidt, as well as a fleece blanket with a bullet hole in it.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has not concluded whether Schmidt's death was a homicide and say they are awaiting the police investigation. Police say the consider the case a homicide and say detectives found no suicide note. They seized a pillows, clothes and other items from the room. They also seized three guns from a gun safe downstairs, and three from a laundry room cabinet, as well as ammunition.

Schmidt is the mother a young girl. She is listed as a 1995 graduate of Shadle Park High School and 2004 graduate of Eastern Washington University, where she studied accounting. She later worked for Pitney Bowes.

Toni Schmidt said a funeral service is set for Sunday. She expects to have more details later today. Donations can be made to the “Kim Schmidt Memorial Fund” at any Spokane Teachers Credit Union branch. 
  

Murder suspect’s jail death a mystery

Friends and family say they are baffled by the death of a former Marine and accused killer found dead at the Spokane County Jail last weekend.

 Tristen Nebrae Jordan, 25, showed no signs of trauma when jail employees found him unconscious in his cell about 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Experts hope toxicology reports will help determine the cause and manner of his death, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Jordan’s lawyer, Chris Phelps, said he met with his client at the jail last week and didn’t suspect anything was wrong. He said he doesn’t want to speculate as to why Jordan died but emphasized the inmate didn’t appear suicidal.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 7: Murder suspect returns to Spokane

Dec. 15: Murder suspect a former Marine

Dec. 13: Police: Murder suspect shot self on Gonzaga campus

Cyclist died from injuries in hit-and-run

A north Spokane bicyclist struck by a hit-and-run driver on North Division Street last month died from injuries suffered in the accident, an autopsy showed.

Dennis Widener, 66, died after a blood clot traveled to his lungs from deep within his body, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office said today.

Widener died on Wednesday in what family members said appeared to be heart attack.

Read the rest of Mike Prager's story here.

Sheriff: Deaths may both be suicides

The Chattaroy couple found dead in a trailer home Friday tried to commit suicide in mid-October by overdosing on medication, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

The couple, Warren A. Fugitt, 78, and Harriet A. Fugitt, 72, both died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Police initially called it a murder-suicide but now say they are not sure if one shot the other or if they each shot themselves.

A signed suicide note was found on the couple’s nightstand, according to a search warrant police obtained for the home.

Read Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Medical examiner is ‘87 murder witness

A Pasco murder trial moved to Spokane because of extensive publicity featured testimony Monday from Spokane County Medical Examiner John Howard.

Howard performed autopsies on the five men killed in the 1987 Pasco body shop slayings and described their gunshot wounds to jurors.

Three of the men, who were all reportedly lined up inside a garage before being gunned down, were hit two times, Howard said. Another had four gunshot wounds and the fifth was struck seven times, with four bullets hitting the same area in his back, Howard said.

Some of the injuries were consistent with “being confronted and ducking or turning around,” Howard confirmed for prosecutors.

 Howard was a Washington State Forensic Pathology Fellow based at the University of Washington 23 years ago when the Franklin County coroner asked him to examine the five victims.

Howard was testifying in the trial of Vicente Ruiz, the second man accused in the killings in Medina’s Body Shop on Oct. 13, 1987.

Ruiz, 46, is charged in Franklin County Superior Court with five counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

The case was moved to Spokane because of extensive media coverage during the first two trials, which both ended in mistrials.

This trial started Nov. 9 with jury selection, and has gone through 12 days of witness testimony. Prosecutors expect to wrap up their case later this week, with defense lawyers planning to call their first witness Friday.

The trial has included a refusal to testify by a convicted killer whose life was spared when he agreed to testify against Ruiz, his cousin. The Tri-City Herald reports Pedro Mendez-Reyna asserted his right not to incriminate himself 29 times before the jury last Thursday and was found in contempt of court for refusing to testify.

Read in-depth coverage from the Tri-City Herald by clicking the link below.

Brothers involved in bizarre shooting

A man shot and killed by his brother near Elk on Saturday has been identified as David A. Ruthruff, 41.

Ruthruff died of a single gunshot to his chest, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted an autopsy Monday.

Ruthruff’s brother, whose name has not been released, told deputies he was outside in the dark in the 13000 block of East Bridges Road when he was attacked by an unknown person about 8:30 p.m.

He retrieved a gun from the home and fired at the intruder, not knowing it was his brother, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

No arrests have been made.

Ruthruff’s girlfriend was questioned by deputies, as were his brother and his brother’s wife, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

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