Death at Sherwood Apartments under investigation as possible homicide

SPOKANE, Wash. - The death last week of a man in a downtown apartment is now being investigated as a homicide after an autopsy confirmed he suffered blunt force trauma that may have contributed to his death.

Last Wednesday morning a woman living at the Sherwood Apartments called 911 to report that her neighbor, later identified as David Spicer, was found dead inside his apartment.

"I was awakened by a young lady and I went upstairs and I went in and I found him laying on the floor," one of Spicer's neighbors said.

Spicer's neighbor in the Sherwood Apartments thinks Spicer was killed by one of the heroin addicts who hang out on Bernard Street, so she agreed to an interview on the condition she not be identified out of concern for her safety.

Downtown spokane apartment homicide investigation

"I went out into the hallway, got the assistant manager and I said 'Come on we've got a dead body on our hands' and that's when I called 911," she said.

Police officers arrived a short time later and found Spicer lying on his back with his pants around his ankles and a blanket covering his mid-section. His room had been ransacked and his wallet was empty.

Dr. Sally Aiken went to Spicer's apartment and could not find any obvious signs of trauma on him, but a subsequent autopsy conducted by Aiken found that Spicer had several rib fractures and a severed spleen that had been torn in half. There was a large amount of blood in his abdomen and Aiken determined that Spicer likely died from the severed spleen and massive blood loss.

Dr. Aiken said that the damage done to the spleen is usually caused by some sort of blunt force trauma.

Detectives followed up with residents in the apartment building and found that the woman who found Spicer's body said she had seen a woman and two men leave Spicer's apartment before he was found dead.

Another apartment resident said that he saw Spicer alive at 4 a.m. and again at 5 a.m., an hour before he was found dead. Spicer told his neighbor that he felt "like some people in his apartment were going to kill him if he didn't leave."

"We're looking for any additional witnesses or anybody who knew him or someone who may have been visiting another friend or another tenant in the apartment building, anything that could be of use to us," Spokane Police spokesperson Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said.

The neighbor didn't see anyone with Spicer at the time, but had seen an unidentified man and woman with him earlier in the overnight hours.

Detectives executed a search warrant on Spicer's apartment and recovered a number of items from his apartment that could have inflicted the injuries that led to his death, including a 12-lb. dumbbell.

"At this point we are not ready to say it's a homicide but there are certainly a couple of different factors that are leading up to believe that maybe this isn't just a natural death," DeRuwe said.

Spicer was unemployed at the time of his death and his apartment no longer had electrical service because he could not pay his power bills. Friends say he had struggled with substance abuse.