Murder victim suspected ex-husband was breaking into home

A woman who was strangled to death in Deer Park last week told sheriff’s deputies she suspected her ex-husband was breaking into her home.

According to a search warrant returned to Spokane District Court, Chanin Starbuck had filed police reports with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office in the four to five months before her death. Starbuck told patrol officers that she believed her estranged husband Clay had burglarized her residence stealing guns, jewelry and damaging property.

“If we find evidence that he was in the house and it wasn’t with her permission then that continues us down the path of why were you there? What were you doing? And actually ties into a lot of the comments people have been making about the domestic violence situation between her and her ex-husband,” Spokane Sheriff’s Lieutenant Steve Barbieri said.

Starkbuck’s suspicions led her to install a video surveillance camera inside her home in the hopes of documenting the break-ins. Detectives seized the video camera as well as Starbuck’s computer and cell phone.

The warrant also reveals that deputies, who entered Starbucks home on Saturday, found the victim lying on top of her bed. According the search warrant detectives are pursuing the possibility Starbuck was sexually assaulted and that perhaps she was killed somewhere else and her body was moved to her bed.

Deputies also say it appeared Starbuck had bruising on her face and what appeared to be blood on the bed next to her body.

Clay Starbuck has voluntarily provided a sample of his DNA to investigators as well as several other men who recently dated the victim. Detectives have seized Chanin’s computer to see if she met her killer online.

“A lot of these online people are calling in saying I met her online, I dated her and they are talking to us and those are not the ones we’re worried about necessarily. We’re more worried about the one’s who are not calling us,” Barbieri said.

Clay Starbuck has been questioned by detectives but not named as a suspect in his ex-wife’s death. In fact, Clay, according to investigators, said that he received a text from Chanin December 1 asking him to pick up their kids from school.

“The last text message on her phone is of high interest to us because we’re trying to determine the time of death because that’s really going to tie in to who saw her last, who she talked to last,” Lt. Barbieri said.