Human remains found under slab in Arlington; woman arrested

Human remains found under slab in Arlington; woman arrested
ARLINGTON, Wash. - Investigators found dismembered human remains buried under a concrete slab on private property in Arlington on Thursday, and a woman has been arrested in connection with the grisly discovery.

Shari Ireton of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said detectives believe the remains belong to a man who disappeared without a trace in 2004 under suspicious circumstances. The woman who was arrested is his ex-wife.

The remains were found Thursday after a search warrant was served on the property in the 8100 block of Wade Road. They were verified as human by an anthropologist with the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, Ireton said.

Detectives believe the remains are that of a former Boeing employee who friends, family and co-workers have not heard from since 2004. Identification of the remains, as well as cause and manner of death, are pending from the Snohomish County Medical Examiner.

"Please tell me it's a nightmare," says Lindsey Johnson who lives in a small travel trailer on Donohue's property.  She says Donohue's current husband is the father of her unborn baby and the situation between the three of them is "awkward". 

Johnson says she knew nothing of what was hidden beneath the shop floor.  "I'm going to start trusting my feelings more often because I knew there was a reason I was scared of her."

The missing man's 48-year-old ex-wife, Michele Louise Donohue, who was still living on the property where the remains were found, has been booked into the Snohomish County jail for investigation of second-degree murder and ordered held on $1 million bond.

Court documents filed in the case show that Donohue was granted a divorce in 2005 after she claimed that her husband had run away with a wealthy young red-haired woman.

She also claimed at the time that her husband told her she could keep his car collection, the house and anything else. She said she did not know where he and the "red-haired woman" had gone.

Donohue was granted all of her husband's property, including life insurance policy, vehicles, savings bonds, investments and half his retirement, court documents say.

After that the man was never seen again by his friends, family members, co-workers or his boss at Boeing Co., where the man had worked for 23 years. He failed to show up at his workplace one day without notifying anyone.

Nothing more was heard until an informant told Snohomish County Sheriff's Office investigators in December that another man who lives in a shop on the woman's property told him that Donohue had stabbed her husband to death in 2004, according to court files.

The other man also told the informant that he helped the woman bury her husband's dismembered body under the concrete inside the shop behind the house, court documents say.

According to the case file, another witness also told investigators that Donohue told him she had stabbed her husband because he was abusive. According to this witness, the husband had asked for her to call an ambulance after she stabbed him, but Donohue refused because he would not apologize to her. Instead she went to work, and when she returned her husband was dead, court files say.

In the years after the husband's disappearance, the woman told various people different stories about it. She told one person that he had run off with a blonde. She told another that he had gone to Wisconsin.

"Very nice couple and had a beer with them a couple times," said neighbor Dave Molstad. He knew Donohue and her former husband saying they were all into collector's cars.  Molstad says Donohue told him they'd gotten separated and she got the house.  "Nothing raised a bit of suspicion," says Molstad, "me or my wife either one, and we were still were friends with her."

Donohue, who has since remarried, also was recorded on tape by an informant saying that she wished someone would get rid of her current husband, too, and mentioned the word "murder," according to court documents.

After a search warrant was served Thursday, the remains were found buried deep in the ground under the slab. Arms and legs were found in the dirt and what appeared to be the rest of a human body was found in a large plastic tote, court documents say.

An autopsy is being conducted Friday, and DNA testing will be needed to confirm whether the remains belong to the missing husband.

As for the three men who allegedly re-buried the body, the Snohomish Sheriff's Office says the statute of limitations has run out for any charges against them.  There is no statute of limitations for murder.

In addition to the remains, detectives also found what appeared to be a chop shop operation on the property. A stolen pickup was recovered by deputies, and detectives collected other evidence from the property for examination, Ireton said.