An Arlington woman is being held at the Snohomish County Jail after human remains, believed to be those of her ex-husband, were found buried under a concrete slab on her property.
For a decade, Michele Louise Donohue, 48, had insisted that her husband had run away with a rich redhead in a sports car in 2004, leaving behind his home, his 23-year job at Boeing, stock, bonds and a car collection. Donohue divorced him in 2005 and claimed the property, including a $124,000 payout from Boeing from his retirement.
However, in December an informant came forward and told the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that a man who lived on Donohue’s property had admitted he helped bury a body under a concrete slab there.
Detectives sent the informant back onto the property wearing a wire, and Donohue was arrested Thursday after a search warrant turned up dismembered human remains. Bail was set Friday at $1 million.
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Identification of the remains and a cause-of-death finding had not yet been released by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
However, witnesses told sheriff’s detectives that Michele Donohue had said her husband was abusive and that she’d stabbed him.
The witness said Donohue had told him that
her husband, after he was stabbed, asked her to “call an ambulance for him, and she refused to do so until he apologized to her.
“She said [the victim] would not apologize” and that she left him on the floor while she went to work.
Later, according to the jail documents, Donohue enlisted three men to help move the body from under a pile of dirt, where it had been temporarily hidden, to a small shop on the property, where it was buried and then covered with a concrete slab, “where ground penetrating radar could not find it.”
On Thursday, an anthropologist from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that human remains found on the property in the 8100 block of Wade Road had been buried beneath a concrete slab — the arms and legs found in the dirt and the remainder of the body in a large plastic tote.
Deputies spoke with Donohue and her present husband, Joel Donohue. Joel Donohue told investigators that his wife told him she had stabbed her ex-husband.
Joel Donohue, his best friend and a tenant living on the property searched the Internet for tips on “how to dispose of a body” before they reburied the man, the affidavit said. With Michele Donohue facing foreclosure, the three men decided they needed to move the body.
Deputies said “the three men then had a little service” after moving the body.
When deputies spoke with Michele Donohue, she claimed her ex-husband had left her. Deputies said she “acted in disbelief” when they told her they’d dug up a body on her property, the affidavit said. She denied killing anyone and requested an attorney.
The documents do not identify the victim, but do reference the couple’s 2004 Snohomish County divorce file, which identifies the respondent as Byron J. Wright.
Donohue filed for divorce from Wright in 2004, when he went missing. At one point, his supervisor at Boeing called to ask where he was. Michele Donohue reportedly replied that he had run off with another woman. The supervisor allegedly responded, “I guess he abandoned us as well as you.”
However, detectives could find no trace of his Social Security number being used and found he had never renewed his driver’s license. His family said they hadn’t heard from him in 10 years. They also found discrepancies in Donohue’s story — while the divorce papers claimed he left with a redhead, Donohue told the man’s sister-in-law that the woman was blond.
In addition to the remains, detectives discovered what appeared to be a chop shop at the Arlington location.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @SeattleSullivan