Starbuck appears in court Friday


by & Katie Utehs

Posted on February 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 2:16 AM

DEER PARK-- Detectives confirm Clay Starbuck will face new, additional charges of Sexual Violation of Human Remains.


Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detectives served a Search Warrant at the residence of Clay Starbuck Monday evening.


Clay Starbuck, 47, was arrested for 1st Degree Murder and 1st Degree Burglary for the December killing of his ex-wife Chanin Starbuck.


Starbuck will appear in court on Friday.


A caller to 911 reported seeing uncollected mail and packages piling up at Chanin Starbuck’s home.  Her body was discovered during a welfare check at her home December 3rd.


Deputies say Starbuck was found strangled and sexually assaulted in her bedroom. The Spokane County Medical Examiner's office says that Chanin Starbuck died from asphyxia due to compression of the neck.


According to court documents, Investigators believe Clay planned to kill Chanin on December 1st. Investigators believe Clay told Chanin his car was broken down and requested she take the kids to school.


While Chanin was out, Clay was able to break into her home and hide until she returned.


Court documents say Clay attacked Chanin shortly after 9 a.m. when the call from 911 came from her cell phone. Investigators believe Clay then turned off her phone.


Court documents say, "There had been a phone call placed to 911 from the decedent's phone on 12/01/11 at 9:17 am. Detective Lyle Johnston subsequently tracked down the recorded 911 phone call and determined that there was a short high pitch guttural sound of a female followed by rustling noise consistent with struggle, and then the phone was disconnected. Detective Lyle Johnston also determined that 911 employees tried to call the number back at 9:18am and the phone went to voicemail. Detective Lyle Johnston subsequently reviewed the decendents telephone records and determines that the phone appeared to be in a off condition from the time of the 911 call until 12:05pm, because between those times no cellular signals are neither transmitted or received through the decedents cell phone provider."


Investigators believe Clay later turned on her phone to communicate with two men Chanin was involved with.


Investigators say he was strangling his ex-wife to death, and then staging the crime scene to look like a sexual assault.


Chanin had a restraining order placed on Clay following their second divorce on July 26th 2011. Clay owed her over $9,000 in divorce settlements.


Detectives say Chanin suspected Clay was breaking into her home to steal guns and jewelry.


Chanin had told friends she was afraid Clay would harm her to get out of paying child support and other divorce obligations.


In the months leading up to the murder there were four police reports from Chanin Starbuck, she suspected Clay of break-ins, vandalism and cyber stalking.


Court documents show a history of alleged violence between Clay and Chanin Starbuck.


Court documents say Chanin confided in a friend that she was worried Clay would hurt her because of the $9,000 dollars he owed her from their divorce.


Detectives searched Clay Starbucks home after his arrest for first degree murder.


Detectives pulled Chanin's watch and ID from Clay's home.


Chanin told a friend he was cyber stalking her, court documents say "Clay had put a keystroke program on her computer without telling her, and then she had to have someone remove the program."


Investigators also found Chanin’s computer hard drive at Clay's home.


Investigators found four police reports from Chanin leading up to the murder. Jewelry had been taken in June, and a volleyball set vandalized in September.


In November she said someone broke-out the window of a vehicle she was borrowing. Later that month her large BBQ was knocked over. The family used to hide a spare house key in the grill.


She suspected Clay in all of the incidents.


Detectives say Clay used technology to try and cover-up the murder.


Text messages were sent from Chanin’s phone, likely after her death.


Investigators say they pulled partial DNA matches from Chanin's body and the keypad of her cell phone.


Investigators say the partial DNA match would have listed Clay and the two oldest sons. Investigators were able to eliminate the sons based on alibi and other evidence.


Starbuck's alibi was considered shaky. He told police he walked through Deer Park because his car was stalled.


Craig Chamberlin with Spokane County Sherrif's Office says, "After reviewing those tapes and the recordings we basically were not able to verify his story, that that was the route he'd been taking."


During investigation, Clay tried to discredit Chanin by telling police about her online dating.


He implied promiscuity telling a detective, "She has a history of phone sex."


Clay was taken into custody without incident Monday afternoon in Deer Park.  His bond has been set at $1 million.  He is set to appear in court next on February 21st.


The three younger Starbuck children were taken to stay with a family friend.


The investigation is still underway as detectives conduct interviews and gather additional evidence.


A new search warrant also unveils deputies found Chanin's death certificate and her missing hard drive in Clay's closet.