Man admits killing victim before setting house fire
Police say two helped suspect start blaze
A suspect in the death of a Spokane man told investigators he beat and strangled the victim with an electrical cord after the man began talking about molesting a relative of the suspect, documents released today say.
Ryan D. Corkery, 27, was ordered to stay in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson.
Sheriff’s investigators say Corkery admitted killing William Frazier Hanel, 56, in Hanel’s home at 12036 S. Player Drive on Oct. 8 or Oct. 9 while the two were drinking.
Corkery said he returned to the home early Tuesday with two unnamed people and set Hanel’s home on fire, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts.
Corkery told police he poured gasoline “throughout the residence and on the decedent and the other unnamed individuals ignited the gasoline,” Ricketts wrote.
Corkery and the two others fled in Hanel’s Jeep Wagoneer. Spokane County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said no further information is available regarding investigation into Corkery’s accomplices or the sex-abuse claim against Hanel.
Corkery told KHQ in a jailhouse interview Thursday that Hanel had molested him and a relative years ago.
Firefighters were called to the Hangman Valley home at 7:11 a.m. Tuesday after a neighbor saw smoke; they found Hanel’s body face down in the kitchen, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Fire investigators say burn patterns indicated arson and that they could smell gasoline coming from Hanel’s body. Hanel’s friends of 45 years, Barbara and Frederick Hamill, told police they last spoke with Hanel Oct. 8 at about 9 p.m. They said Corkery was with him.
Detectives found Hanel’s 1983 Jeep Wagoneer on North Hutchison Road, Reagan said. Corkery was at Motel 6 at Argonne Road and Interstate 90 and tried to flee when officers arrived, according to the affidavit.
An autopsy showed Hanel died prior to the fire. He suffered bruises on his brain, around his eye, in his mouth and on his tongue, as well as a skull fracture, “which could be consistent with being assaulted and possibly suffocated,” according to the affidavit.
Reagan said members of a regional violent offender task force had been tracking Corkery “off and on prior to the fire.” He was wanted on a Department of Corrections escape warrant, which typically is filed after someone stops checking in with a probation officer.
Corkery was sentenced in May 2004 to more than eight years in prison and three years probation for burglary, gun and stolen property convictions. He also has a conviction for unlawful imprisonment/domestic violence.
Corkery was arrested during a police standoff in January 2004 after he was allowed to leave jail for the holidays but did not return when required. Corkery barricaded himself in an apartment with his wife, who was seven months pregnant, before surrendering.
A friend of Hanel’s said Tuesday that Hanel graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in the 1970s and had worked as a transmission repairman. His father, L. Warden Hanel, was a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Spokane.
Hanel was convicted of patronizing a juvenile prostitute in 1994, according to news archives. He was ordered to serve four days in jail and pay $500.