SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a mother of five children that detectives term suspicious.
Officers found the body of 43-year-old Chanin Starbuck in her Deer Park home Saturday morning after someone asked for a welfare check. Deputies were called to her home Saturday morning after friends became concerned about uncollected mail and packages on the front porch.
"When the patrol officers got here they found a 43-year-old female that's deceased inside the house and there are some circumstances, including her age, that make us wonder if this is a natural death or not," Lieutenant Steve Barbieri with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home Starbuck shared with her five children. Detectives say if Starbuck was murdered there's a 70-percent chance it was done by someone she knew. Now they're trying to recreate the last week Starbuck was alive, who she was with and where she'd been going.
"We've been talking to some family members, we've been talking to the neighbors, talking to people who have stopped by, to give us some history on the individual inside the house their past," Lieutenant Barbieri said.
That's how detectives learned Starbuck has been involved in a very contentious divorce with her husband Clay. Court records show Starbuck finalized the divorce in July and afterwards complained she was not receiving child support payments from her ex-husband.
On October 28, a Superior Court commissioner found Clay Starbuck in contempt of court and ordered Starbuck to pay his wife a $9,166 judgment, including attorney's fees. Court records also allege that Clay Starbuck was upset his ex-wife had started to consult an online dating service.
Clay Starbuck, who maintains a home in Deer Park and works as an oil pipeline worker in Valdez, Alaska, has not been listed as a suspect in his ex-wife's death, but did participate in an interview with detectives Monday. Attempts to reach Starbuck for comment at his home were unsuccessful.
Spokane's medical examiner began performing an autopsy on Chanin Starbuck Monday morning and some results are expected later in the day. Detectives hope an autopsy will tell them if they should be looking for a murder suspect.
"Once we've got that information we'll see if it ties back to anything suspicious, if it turns out to be a homicide. There wouldn't be any suspects at this time," Barbieri said.
While court documents show the Starbucks went through a messy divorce, there were no claims of domestic violence, and Clay Starbuck is now caring for his five children. He is not considered a suspect in his ex-wife's death at this time.
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