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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Police believe 76-year-old raped

Authorities believe a 76-year-old St. Maries woman found dead inside her burned home Sunday – bound, savagely beaten and shot in the back of her head – was also raped.

Investigators say Lawrence “Larry” Banderob went to Miriam Waltch’s home three times in a 20-hour period: binding her hands and beating her, returning later to kill her and coming back the next day to torch her home and destroy evidence.

Banderob’s daughter was outside Waltch’s home during the beating Saturday night, according to court documents, and his wife later waited outside in the car when he returned and allegedly shot Waltch in the back of the head and again in her leg.

Benewah County Sheriff Robert Kirts said Thursday it appeared Waltch was raped during the attack, but charges are pending until results are back from the state crime lab.

Authorities believe Waltch was a random victim, allegedly chosen because her house was close to where Banderob got his vehicle stuck in the ditch following hours of drinking at a local bar.

In the past 15 years, the 37-year-old, 210-pound St. Maries native has been charged with 11 separate crimes, including drunken driving, battery and false imprisonment.

Court documents give the following account of the alleged crimes last weekend:

Banderob’s teenage daughter told investigators she drove her father to the bar Saturday afternoon and waited outside for several hours. As Banderob was driving them back to their home on Hells Gulch Road, the vehicle apparently became stuck in a ditch. The daughter later told investigators her father walked to a nearby home and stole a truck to use in an effort to get his own vehicle out of the ditch.

The stolen truck also became stuck. Banderob then went to Waltch’s home in hopes of using her Hyundai Excel to free his vehicle. That is when he beat and possibly raped the retiree. Banderob’s daughter waited outside the home the entire time.

“She heard a lot of screaming for a long period of time,” County Prosecutor Douglas Payne testified at Banderob’s probable cause hearing.

When Banderob emerged from Waltch’s home, his hands were covered in blood and his daughter was “hysterical,” the official account continued. The two then drove up the road to their home, where his wife, Becky, immediately knew “something terrible is wrong.”

Banderob and his wife drove back to Waltch’s home. He went inside, while she waited in the car. When Banderob returned to the car, he told his wife he shot Waltch. Payne said Waltch was killed about midnight Saturday.

The Banderob couple returned to their trailer home. Banderob then tried to erase evidence from the crime, telling his wife to burn two spent shell casings from his .22-caliber bolt-action rifle. He also burned his bloody clothes, pushed Waltch’s car over an embankment and then set fire to it.

Deputies later recovered the rifle from a grain bin in Banderob’s pig barn, and the two spent shell casings from ashes in the woodstove.

Authorities believe Banderob returned to Waltch’s home late the following afternoon to set fire to the house using gasoline.

A neighbor heard an explosion and attempted to douse the blaze using a garden hose. Deputies later found Waltch’s remains in her bedroom.

A glove was found in Waltch’s front yard and the opposite, matching glove – reeking of gasoline – was found in Banderob’s vehicle.

Banderob’s car, a maroon 1994 Chevy Corsica, was found at a metal shop in St. Maries. Officers found gloves, firearms, blood smears, soiled clothes and a laptop computer inside. At his home, they found more firearms, jewelry, money and three bloody towels.

Banderob was arrested without incident late Tuesday. The next day he was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson and is being held without bail in the Benewah County jail. In Idaho, first-degree murder is punishable by death.

Banderob’s preliminary hearing has been set for Wednesday.