Every day, Roy Watson would post fliers or talk to different people in Snohomish or Everett to see if they had seen or heard anything about his missing girlfriend, Deonna Lynn...

Share story

Every day, Roy Watson would post fliers or talk to different people in Snohomish or Everett to see if they had seen or heard anything about his missing girlfriend, Deonna Lynn “Dee” Bruner.

“I think we all kept hoping, but after awhile we all knew” that something bad had happened, said Watson’s mother, Faye Paolino.

The body of Bruner, 39, who was last seen Nov. 2, was discovered Monday morning floating in Puget Sound near the Clinton ferry terminal at the south end of Whidbey Island.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

“He’s pretty torn up about it,” Paolino said of her son. “When he called me [Monday night], I could hardly understand him. He was in tears.”

Though authorities have not determined a cause of death, Island County Coroner Robert Bishop said it appears that Bruner’s body had been in the water since Nov. 2.

“It’s readily apparent that she was probably in a freshwater tributary and the flood pushed her into saltwater,” said Bishop, who conducted an autopsy later Monday. “She had not been in saltwater very long.”

The coroner found “no obvious trauma on the body, lethal blows or gunshots.”

It will likely take weeks for authorities to receive results of toxicology tests. “We don’t know how important that will be,” Bishop said.

Meanwhile, the Snohomish Police Department is working with Island County authorities on the investigation, said Snohomish police Sgt. Fred Havener.

“What we have right now is a puzzle,” Havener said. “Certainly her disappearance is under suspicious circumstances, and her discovery is a mystery, too.

“Until the cause of death is determined, we are not considering anyone associated with this case a suspect.”

Bruner and Watson lived together in a Snohomish apartment below Chub’s Pub Tavern, where Bruner reportedly was last seen leaving in the company of three men Nov. 2, according to police. The men have been questioned, police said.

Bruner worked as bartender and a flagger on road-construction projects before she became nearly blind after a rollover automobile accident several years ago, Paolino said.

Paolino, who has known Bruner for nearly a decade, remembers her son and Bruner taking long rides all over the state on his motorcycle.

“Dee was giggly,” she said. “She was fun. She laughed a lot. She was just a very nice person.”

Paolino, who thought of Bruner as part of the family, said she will miss her son’s girlfriend. “I was looking forward to getting together for Christmas.”

Judy Chia Hui Hsu: 425-745-7809 or jhsu@seattletimes.com