SPOKANE -- Spokane murder victim Michelle Koenen had recently to her hometown after spending several years living in the Spokane and Portland areas.
Koenen, 48, was found strangled to death in her West Broadway Ave home Friday.
Police are searching for 38-year-old Tony T. Callihan in connection to Koenen’s death. Detectives said the two were dating and believe Callihan strangled Koenen during a domestic dispute.
Koenen grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep. Her mother Doris said Michelle was a great child, with a strong will.
“She wanted to live her own life,” Doris said.
Koenen left home shortly after high school. She returned to Spokane last summer to be close to her family.
83-year-old Doris has cancer and is going through chemotherapy. She said Michelle would take her to her chemo appointments. She said Michelle did not have any children, but loved her two dogs. Michelle did not have a steady job but she “worked odd jobs here and there”.
Doris said she did not know about Michelle’s boyfriend.
She is devastated by her loss, but said she would be able to forgive the killer.
“I don’t hold grudges,” she said.
In newly released documents, Callihan’s stepdad first questioned Tony when he saw him 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, and leaving her at a house in the 2300 block of West Broadway.
Callihan's stepdad told police he dropped off Callihan to that house several times before, and believed he was dating the woman living there.
His stepdad called 911 after the discussion. Police found Koenen dead in the home shortly after, with signs of trauma on her face.
Callihan was last seen in Ellensburg, Wash. on Monday. Police said he was trying to steal gasoline from a CWU maintenance truck.