It was just a normal day for siblings Devon Waggoner and Ashly Young as they headed to work on March 12, 2021.
Then their phones rang, a Spokane police detective was on the line and they both had a sinking feeling.
“I just knew something was wrong and I almost knew who it was about,” Young said.
“I just kind of felt the energy,” Waggoner said.
Their mother, Bobbie Young, 51, was found dead in a tent at a Spokane homeless camp where she had been living along the 2000 block of Thorpe Road near Highway 195 south of Interstate 90.. She had been shot and stabbed, according to police.
Police spokesperson Julie Humphreys said detectives investigated the killing, but the case quickly went cold. The police department didn’t alert the public or the media of the homicide and Bobbie Young’s death was left unreported.
The case remains unsolved. There are no suspects more than a year later, Humphreys confirmed.
Lost in the opioid crisis
Waggoner, now 31, remembers his mother as a devout “woman of God” during his childhood.
“Before she got really heavy into stuff and before her life changed dramatically, she put God in my heart at a young age and I thank her for that,” Waggoner said.
He remembers his mother’s home that she created to be a cocoon of family life, full of knickknacks. Waggoner and Young, 26, lived with their mother until a series of bad boyfriends and alcoholism took their mother down a dangerous path.
Waggoner moved in with his dad, and Young went to live with her aunt and uncle.
Eventually, their mother quit drinking but moved on to prescription pills. She would just call pharmacists and say she needed more Adderall or OxyContin, Waggoner remembers.
When Waggoner was a teenager, his mother moved to Missouri with her then-husband and developed an addiction to Klonopin, a prescription drug used for panic attacks and seizures. When she tried to detox, she had a severe seizure, he said.
“She never was the same after that,” Waggoner said, noting his mother couldn’t hold a normal conversation.
Still, Young remembers love-filled moments when her mother – when sober – would call her, feeling positive about her future. She wanted to share the love and happiness she was feeling with her only daughter, Young said.
“I got to talk to her when she was sober,” Young said. “It was just the best talk I ever got to have with her.”
About three years before her death, Waggoner said his mother came to stay with him in Seattle in hopes of turning her life around, but it didn’t work out and she returned to Spokane. Not long after, Waggoner and Young lost touch with her.
Waggoner eventually filed a missing person report. An officer called him not long after and said they had seen his mother around town and she was doing OK.
The siblings had plans to go looking for their mother at area homeless camps on Waggoner’s next visit from Los Angeles to see his sister.
Before they could go look, Bobbie Young was found dead.
Waggoner and Young were surprised at how under-the-radar their mother’s death was. There was no media coverage and few updates from the detective on the case, Waggoner said.
“I just feel really weird about it,” Waggoner said.
“It almost felt like since she was homeless they weren’t taking our case very seriously,” Young added.
Waggoner said he provided the last address, phone number, and boyfriend he knew his mother had, but investigators said they had already checked him out.
“If they would have reported this, maybe it would have led to a lead or something,” Waggoner said.
The detective on the case connected the siblings with crime victim benefits, which covered cremation and funeral expenses and was a huge relief, Young said.
“Me and Ashly being young, that really helped us,” Waggoner said.
Then a few months later, another detective called Waggoner and began interrogating him, he said.
“He didn’t come at me respectfully,” Waggoner said.
After months of no leads, it was frustrating, he said.
“They just didn’t reach out to us ever again after she was cremated and done with,” Young said.
Humphreys said that detectives always try to be sensitive to victim’s families.
“They’re hurting. They’ve just had some terrible news that their loved one has been killed and we have to solve it, and we have to ask tough questions sometimes,” Humphreys said. “We try to be very, very sensitive to the pain the victims are going through.”
Detectives investigated Bobbie Young’s death just as they do any homicide, Humphreys said.
“We look at the death of a homeless person the same as any death,” Humphreys said.
Investigators work every lead they have but some cases don’t have witnesses or many leads, she added.
“Those cases are very difficult because you do have unreliable witnesses that may be there or not,” Humphreys said of cases involving homeless people. “It’s very difficult to get that information on those cases.”
While the case is unsolved, Humphreys said investigators will continue to look at new leads if they come up.
“I feel bad that they didn’t have a good experience,” Humphreys said of Young’s family. “It’s a very tough situation.”
Tragedy brings family togetherDespite their mother’s death, the siblings are thankful for the renewed and strengthened connection between them and their family in Spokane.
Waggoner flew from Los Angeles, where he owns and operates recording studios, shortly after his mother’s death. He and Young, who recently moved back to Spokane with her fiancé and works in real estate, went to the place where their mother was found.
About a month after she was cremated, the siblings held a memorial at their grandmother’s house.
“It was a good moment for all just to come together,” Waggoner said.
They hadn’t seen their grandmother or aunts and uncles for years, Young said. Reconnecting to share memories, photos and letters from their mother was healing, she said.
Friends of their mother they had never met shared memories on an online memorial. Hearing their mother was volunteering at a homeless shelter while homeless herself and maintained her positive and loving attitude was a bright spot, Young and Waggoner said.
“I would say the positive through it all was that it brought us together,” Waggoner said, smiling at his sister.
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