SPOKANE, Wash. --- Police are investigating after finding a man reported missing dead inside his room for apparently more than a week.
Court documents show the man, Joseph Stonelake, who would have turned 35 on Saturday, was reported missing by his mother in Pennsylvania. She told police she had last heard from him on April 6, and had been unable to get in touch with him since then. She said at the time, he had told her about a threat he had received from his ex-girlfriend with whom he has a 5-year-old son.
Stonelake’s mother told police he had told her about a text he had gotten telling him if he “didn’t leave town now, he would end up dead in the river,” according to court documents.
A person working for Stonelake’s attorney went to his house on April 14 to check on him because he had not been in contact with their office recently, per court documents. Stonelake had an attorney to represent him in the child custody issue, according to the documents.
The woman working for the attorney’s office spoke with Stonelake’s roommate and “insisted” he show her Stonelake’s room. The roommate told the attorney’s representative he had been told not to open the room, which was locked from the inside.
The roommate then “accessed a butter knife from under the couch and opened Joseph’s locked bedroom door,” according to court documents. The woman working for the attorney’s office saw Stonelake was dead and called police.
A responding officer reported the victim was slumped forward over a table in his room. The officer noticed a folding knife on the floor near the victim and a cell phone in the room, according to the court documents. There was a capped syringe on the victim's lap as well, according to court records.
The responding officer believed the victim had been deceased for several days based on the state of decomposition. Both of Stonelake’s roommates told detectives they had not seen him in about five days.
Court records show officials are not sure how Stonelake died. They are working to determine if a homicide has been committed.
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