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Murder-suicide suspected in arson fire of Spokane Valley home

UPDATED: Tue., July 25, 2017

Spokane Valley firefighters open the roof and pour water into the attic at the scene where two people were found dead early Tuesday morning, July 18, 2017, on the 1900 block of North Sipple Road, in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Valley firefighters open the roof and pour water into the attic at the scene where two people were found dead early Tuesday morning, July 18, 2017, on the 1900 block of North Sipple Road, in Spokane Valley, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Evidence found in the remains of a Spokane Valley house fire last week suggests Bobby Kihara set fire to his home after shooting his wife and dogs before turning a gun on himself.

In a search warrant, Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Kirk Keyser described a horrific scene – smelling heavily of gasoline – awaiting firefighters responding to a house fully engulfed in flames at 1913 N. Sipple Road.

As they entered the home, Keyser wrote, they found 67-year-old Joy Kihara upstairs, face down with a bullet wound in her head and signs of rigor mortis in her body. In the master bedroom on the bed was 70-year-old Bobby Kihara with a wound to his chin, and a firearm nearby. They also found two deceased dogs, who neighbors said were a pair of Labradors named AC and DC, also shot.

After the fire, Keyser noted that investigators found three gas containers within the home and could smell a “heavy odor” of gasoline throughout the residence.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office last week listed both causes of death as a “gunshot wound to the head.” And investigators said Friday they were operating under the theory that the deaths point to a murder-suicide, especially since they have no other outstanding suspects in the investigation.

Investigators seized multiple items from the residence as evidence, including two hobby grenades, a .38-revolver found near Bobby Kihara, several cartridges of ammunition and the three gas cans.

Capt. John Nowels of the Sheriff’s Office said investigators are checking the forensics of the firearm to rule out the possibility that someone else killed the two and made it look like a murder-suicide.

In an interview Tuesday, Nowels said the office isn’t ruling out the possibility that Kihara set fire to the home, but wouldn’t confirm it outright until the investigation is complete.

“I can say that we’re not currently looking for anybody we believe is outstanding,” he said.

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