Detectives search Spokane murder suspect’s jail cell



Posted on June 26, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 26 at 11:10 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Major Crimes detectives searched the jail cell Wednesday of a Spokane man who is accused of killing his girlfriend.

Police said Tony Callihan, 38, is also accused of witness tampering and perjury. Detectives did recover some evidence during their jail cell search according to authorities. 

“It's pretty rare to actually get a search warrant for a jail cell,” said Sgt. Joel Fertakis “but due to the nature of the allegations, the judge did grant the warrant in this case.”

Detectived told KREM 2 News that they believe Callihan was trying to convince at least two people that his girlfriend, Michelle Koenen, killed her self with a dog leash. Authorities found letters signed by Callihan which described his plan.

Court documents stated Callihan wrote at least two letters to two people. Authorities said the letters tried to convince the receipient to like in order to clear Callihan.

He wrote one woman and asked her to find addition witnesses according to court documents.

“He asked her to be an alibi witness and to perjure herself in creating an alibi for Callihan at the time of Koenen's homicide,” stated the police documents.

“He was trying to get other females mainly to say this was not homicide this was a suicide,”’ said Sgt. Joel Fertakis.

In one of Callihan's alleged letters, he wrote “Koenen was laying across the bed with her head laying across some dog leash tied to an eye hook.”

Documents stated thatin the same letter Callihan asked the witness to change his entire story to police. The letter indicated that the particular witness told police he saw Callihan and Koenen fighting around the time she died.

“What I need to happen is for you to go to the prosecutor's office and explain to them that what you told the cops was what you thought might have happened. But now that you have thought it over you realize it wasn't based on facts,” Callihan wrote.

The search warrant document also described that Callihan tried to escape from custody when he was in California. Guards said they found what appeared to be a screw that had been fashioned into a handcuff key.

Callihan was moved to the Spokane County Jail from the Seattle area in January. He was caught and arrested in California.

Police said Callihan killed his girlfriend in December 2012 near 2300 W. Broadway.

Court documents stated that Callihan admitted to killing Koenen during a conversation with his step-dad. Callihan’s stepdad questioned him about why he was driving Koenen’s Dodge Stratus, because Tony had a suspended license. Callihan reportedly responded, “Don’t worry about that. That’s the least of my worries.” His stepdad said Callihan then borrowed some money and took off in the car.

His stepdad told police Callihan appeared bothered and upset when he saw him again the next day. Callihan then admitted he “just killed a girl,” police say. He reportedly explained shoving and choking her at a “meth party” the night before.

Callihan’s stepdad called 911 after the discussion. Police found Koenen dead in the home shortly after, with signs of trauma on her face.