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WSP reopens 26-year-old murder case in Pend Oreille County to find DNA evidence

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 4, 2020

Washington State Patrol cold case investigators are taking a closer look at the 1994 killing of Jack LaFond, who was killed in his trailer south of Newport near Diamond Lake.  (courtesy)
Washington State Patrol cold case investigators are taking a closer look at the 1994 killing of Jack LaFond, who was killed in his trailer south of Newport near Diamond Lake. (courtesy)

, Washington State Patrol’s Cold Case Homicide Team will analyze evidence from a 1994 crime scene with new technologies in hopes of finding the DNA of the killer.

On Oct. 24, 1994, Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at 74-year-old Jack LaFond’s trailer for a welfare check. His girlfriend reported he’d missed their dates and she hadn’t been able to reach him, according to court documents.

Seven miles south of Newport near Diamond Lake, they found the trailer door chained shut from the outside and a window broken.

A deputy used a stick to unfasten a wire entwined in the chain. In the trailer, he found LaFond in a pool of blood, the records say.

An autopsy showed LaFond had been stabbed multiple times. Neighbors described LaFond as a “loan shark,” who offered small loans and was “aggressive” about repayment. Some people believed he had large amounts of cash in his trailer to fund these loans, court documents say.

Although detectives have identified many suspects in the 26 years since LaFond’s murder, none has been charged.

Pieces of evidence from the scene are still in the Washington State Patrol evidence system in Spokane, although they haven’t been analyzed by technologies available to investigators today, according to court documents.

A Spokane County Superior Court Judge signed off on WSP detectives’ request Monday to analyze in the WSP Crime Laboratory the trailer’s front door, a tissue and a brown sweater found at the scene for DNA, finger prints, blood, fibers and other trace evidence, court documents show.

In anticipation of the case’s anniversary in October, WSP put out a call Thursday for people who might have information about the case to contact WSP by emailing stacy.moate@wsp.wa.gov or by calling the cold case team at (425) 401-7740.

Maggie Quinlan can be reached at (509) 459-5135 or by email at maggieq@spokesman.com.

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