A woman found dead inside her burning home had been killed by her boyfriend, who set the house ablaze before turning a shotgun on himself, police said Thursday.
Preliminary findings from an autopsy determined Ruby Ealy-Dunlap, 31, died from asphyxiation up to 36 hours before her body was discovered Wednesday night, Coeur d’Alene police Capt. Carl Bergh said.
Police say Paul L. Cline, 35, the woman’s boyfriend, then set several fires around the house and shot himself in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun.
“It appears that this case is a homicide, arson and then suicide,” Bergh said.
Firefighters were called to battle a house fire about 7 p.m. Wednesday at 18th Street and St. Maries Avenue. They discovered the bodies in an upstairs bedroom.
Police are not certain what led up to Ealy-Dunlap’s death but suspect an argument over two telephone calls from Ealy-Dunlap’s ex-boyfriend in California may have escalated into violence.
The couple’s landlord told police she heard them arguing loudly Monday evening over the call. Police said Ealy-Dunlap talked to her ex-boyfriend again Tuesday morning about 7:30 a.m., the last time they are certain she was alive.
Cline was last seen about 5 p.m. Wednesday, when he dropped off Ealy-Dunlap’s 10-year-old son at a Coeur d’Alene roller skating rink. The boy was told to call his aunt if Cline didn’t return, Bergh said.
The couple’s deaths shocked neighbors, who said the two appeared friendly. Cline had done some remodeling work on the house before the couple moved in less than a month ago, neighbors said.
Ealy-Dunlap moved from California about three months ago to Moscow where she met Cline, a long-haul trucker, Bergh said.
The two had been slowly moving their belongings into the house during the past two weeks, police said. Both have relatives in the Coeur d’Alene area.
Bergh said the boy is staying with his aunt, Ealy-Dunlap’s sister.
“All the family members are in a state of shock over this,” Bergh said.
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