Local News

Body found in North Spokane County

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - Authorities searching for the body of a missing Malden, Wash. teen in North Spokane County have located human remains.

The Whitman County Sheriff's Office is working with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office in looking for the remains of 17-year-old Donavin Stapert, who disappeared in early March. A tip led both Spokane and Whitman County sheriff's deputies to a forested area in North Spokane County as part of the search for Stapert's body.

"It's a long process obviously once we are done and we leave we can't recreate this, so we have to make sure that we collect all the evidence as we possibly can the first time," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

First, the forensics team, along with Major Crimes detectives, spent several hours just documenting the area. Then they started digging in an area where they say the dirt was disturbed."

"We have to be very methodical as to how we dig up the area we have to sift through the dirt, consistently looking for evidence," Chamberlin said.

Malden death investigation body found

They sifted through the soil, six inches down at a time and after quite some time digging the located a body.

"The body was located 4 or 5 feet underground so obviously someone took a lot of time to dig up a large area to put this victim in," Chamberlin said.

The sheriff's department can't say what else they found at the scene.

Stapert's mother, Crystal Ann Rothbart, still can't believe her son is gone.

"He was the most gentle soul; there is no reason anybody should have ever hurt him," she said.

Three people were arrested for the death and cover-up of Stapert, who was reported missing from Malden on March 8. Authorities believe he died on or about March 7 at a Malden home and his body was moved.

James Ramson, 30, of Spokane was booked into the Whitman County Jail on charges of Unlawful Disposal of Human Remains, Rendering Criminal Assistance and Possession of Methamphetamine.

Chastity Barkhuff, 38, of Malden was booked into the Whitman County Jail on charges of Controlled Substance Homicide, Providing a Controlled Substance to Persons Under Age 18 and Rendering Criminal Assistance.

Acting on an arrest warrant from Whitman County, authorities in Missoula, MT arrested Bobby Bilderback, 44, of Malden at a home in Missoula Monday in connection with Donavin's death.

Rothbart said the news of her son Donavin's body possibly being recovered doesn't bring her any closure. She says she needs to see the body for herself until she can start moving on.

She will have to wait until the medical examiner performs an autopsy to confirm the identity of the body until she knows for certain if it was her son authorities found buried in a remote stretch of forest north of Spokane.