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Suspects found dead in Arizona

TUESDAY, NOV. 18, 2008

TV show featured ’98 Post Falls killing

Two women suspected in the 10-year-old killing of a Post Falls woman were found shot to death less than three hours after a national television show spotlighted their case.

The bodies of Tina R. Loesch, 37, and Skye M. Hanson, 41, were found in Arizona late Saturday. Authorities believe the women had a suicide pact, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

The women left a multiple-page suicide note, which authorities found with their bodies after a motorist reported seeing two bodies in a white Dodge Durango on a road northwest of Tucson about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We were shocked,” said Post Falls police Chief Cliff Hayes, who flew to Tucson on Sunday with two other police officers.

Police issued arrest warrants in October for Loesch and Hanson in connection with the 1998 killing of Loesch’s mother, Barbara, and Saturday’s episode of “America’s Most Wanted” featured the case.

Questions remain

Even with the two suspects dead, Hayes said the case is far from resolved.

Barbara Loesch, 52, died two years after her husband, Gary, was found shot to death near his newspaper delivery route in a case that remains unsolved. Gary Loesch had written his daughter out of his will after she told him she was in a lesbian relationship with Hanson, according to previously published reports.

Police have long suspected the father-daughter rift and a $500,000 life insurance policy Tina Loesch took out on her mother were motives in the killings.

Police suspected foul play after Barbara Loesch died in a hot tub, Hayes said, but it wasn’t until convicted killer Bradley Steckman told police in 2004 that Tina Loesch and Hanson offered him $10,000 to kill her that attention turned to the women.

Police hadn’t contacted the women since 1998, and they were last seen with Tina Loesch’s son, Kristopher Loesch, in Spokane on Aug. 31, 2000, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding Kristopher, 18. Hayes said he and his officers will spend the next day or so in Arizona looking for him and investigating what Loesch and Hanson were doing there.

“We certainly would have preferred to question them,” Hayes said. “I mean, what went on for 10 years?”

Pima County sheriff’s deputies haven’t released details of the suicide note.

Daughter ‘just a player’

The coroner initially ruled Barbara Loesch’s death accidental, and the life insurance benefit was paid to Tina Loesch, who signed it over to Hanson, according to previous reports.

Hanson has always been the main suspect in her death, Hayes said.

“Tina was just a player,” he said.

Steckman told police he pushed the TV into the hot tub with Barbara Loesch and held her head underwater for two minutes. He admitted to scoping out Gary Loesch’s paper route for Hanson but denies firing the shot that killed him.

Steckman is serving concurrent life sentences for Barbara Loesch’s death and for the 1996 murder of an 89-year-old Pullman woman, of which he was convicted in 2001.

Police suspect the women may have seen themselves on “America’s Most Wanted,” which aired hours before their bodies were found. Autopsies didn’t reveal an exact time of death, but Barkman, of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, said the SUV in which their bodies were found was parked along a busy street.

Police issued first-degree murder arrest warrants, including bonds of $5 million each, for Loesch and Hanson on Oct. 10. Television producers traveled to Post Falls a couple of weeks ago to film interviews after police told them about the case, and two police officers flew to Washington, D.C., last weekend to staff tip lines after the show.

Of the more than 50 tips from all over the country, only one pointed to Arizona, said Lt. Greg McLean.

Meghann M. Cuniff can be reached at (509) 459-5534 or at meghannc@spokesman.com.

 

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