WASHOUGAL, Wash. – Authorities believe one of the bodies found in a home that burned this week was that of the home’s owner, a man who was under investigation for sex crimes.
Steven D. Stanbary, 47, was due to turn himself in to Washougal detectives Thursday. Stanbary’s house caught fire the day before, and a man inside fired shots to prevent neighbors, firefighters and police from helping.
On Saturday, Clark County sheriff’s officials said in a release that they “believe strongly” that one of the bodies found was Stanbary, and they said the case was being investigated as a murder-suicide. They linked their conclusion to personal effects and identifying items found close to the remains.
The Sheriff’s Office hasn’t specified the conditions of the bodies but said they will rely on dental records and DNA testing to make final identifications.
Authorities found at least two bodies in the charred rubble where Stanbary lived with his wife and her identical twin sister.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Allais declined to provide details about the sex crimes investigation, except to tell the Columbian newspaper that it involved allegations of repeated incidents of abuse. Allais declined to say whether it involved more than one alleged victim or what the connection was to Stanbary.
Stanbary had a history of espousing white supremacist views, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
But investigators said Friday they did not believe the fire at his house had anything to do with the 27th anniversary of a more well-known standoff that killed white supremacist Robert J. Mathews, the founder of the neo-Nazi group The Order, on Whidbey Island, Wash., as his house burned down around him.
Washougal detectives arranged with Stanbary’s lawyer Tuesday that he would turn himself in on Thursday, they said.
Stanbary was arrested and served 90 days in jail following a standoff with sheriff’s deputies in Bonner County in 1994. Authorities seized a weapons cache at his home, including a grenade launcher, a sawed-off shotgun and six AK-47 assault rifles.
In 1995 Stanbary was sentenced to three months in jail for simple assault in Bonner County.