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Deputies make arrest in suspicious death investigation involving woman found dead inside Spokane Valley apartment complex

UPDATED: Thu., April 4, 2019

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man who reportedly barricaded himself inside an apartment and refused to leave on charges of allegedly murdering his girlfriend. Her body was discovered Wednesday after deputies forced their way inside the home. (Will Campbell/SR)
Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man who reportedly barricaded himself inside an apartment and refused to leave on charges of allegedly murdering his girlfriend. Her body was discovered Wednesday after deputies forced their way inside the home. (Will Campbell/SR)
By Jonathan Glover and Will Campbell The Spokesman-Review

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man on charges of allegedly murdering his girlfriend. He reportedly barricaded himself inside an apartment and refused to leave. Her body was discovered Wednesday after deputies forced their way inside the home.

Deputies originally classified the investigation as a suspicious death after responding to the apartment complex on the 4900 block of East Upriver Drive, where they found an uncooperative man, later identified as 28-year-old Joseph W. Scheel, inside near the woman’s body, deputies wrote in a news release.

Scheel was immediately arrested on an out-of-state felony warrant, and on Thursday, was charged with first-degree murder.

Cpl. Mark Gregory, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, wrote in a news release that a witness on Tuesday reported the woman hadn’t shown up to work in two days and was in the midst of a rocky relationship with Scheel. Deputies responded to the apartment that day but “received no answer at the door which was locked,” Gregory wrote.

Hours later, Gregory said deputies tracked an alleged attempted purse theft at Safeway on West Francis Avenue, with a person of interest who matched a description of Scheel. A vehicle, which was apparently left behind at the store, was found to be registered to the woman who lived in the apartment where the original attempt at a welfare check ocurred.

Deputies again tried to contact the woman but were told by an apartment manager that another manager had spoken to her on Monday. The manager, according to Gregory, also said the woman’s lease was set to expire at the end of March.

Without “legal justification to force entry into the private residence, deputies cleared the location,” Gregory wrote.

On Wednesday at about 11:30 a.m., deputies arrived for a third time and assisted the apartment manager in entering the apartment. The door was unlocked, Gregory wrote, but would not open as it appeared to be “barricaded from the inside.”

Gregory said Scheel yelled from inside the unit for law enforcement to leave and refused to answer the door. Deputies eventually forced entry and detained Scheel, who reportedly resisted attempts to be handcuffed.

During a sweep of the apartment, deputies found the woman dead. The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office said an autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Scheel has no felony criminal history in Spokane County.

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