Community demands answers in the death of a 56-year-old woman found partially clothed in a yard.
OLYMPIA — Police Chief Ronnie Roberts issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that the death of west Olympia resident Yvonne McDonald this month has raised concerns and questions.
“We ask for the community’s patience as the coroner’s report progresses and the investigation unfolds,” Roberts said.
Like the community, the police also want answers in the woman’s death, he said.
“Please know that the Olympia Police Department is committed to sharing all confirmed information that we can appropriately share,” he said. “However, there is currently much that we do not know and cannot know yet. There is also information that we will not share out of respect for the family and her personal and medical privacy.”
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McDonald, 56, was found Aug. 7 in the yard of a home in the 900 block of Division Street Northwest, a few blocks from her apartment.
Police said she was unconscious and partially clothed. She was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital, where she died that evening.
Olympia police Lt. Sam Costello said Friday that police were investigating her death but had not determined whether it was the result of a crime or an accident.
McDonald’s oldest sister, Cheryl Williams, said last week she is frustrated by the slow pace of the investigation. She said what police are telling her doesn’t line up with what she learned from the hospital.
Talauna Reed, McDonald’s niece, said her aunt had scratches, bruising and internal injuries, that she was found with her pants pulled down, and that hospital staff told the family McDonald may have been sexually assaulted.
Reed said she is sure that McDonald did not die as the result of an accident.
Recent social-media posts suggested there was a lack of urgency in the investigation because McDonald was African-American. The case has caught the attention of activists who say they want to pressure police to move faster.
Roberts said Tuesday that crucial questions about the circumstances of McDonald’s death may only be answered by the coroner.
“The Thurston County Coroner’s Office did conduct an autopsy and the results are pending,” he said.
“However, the toxicology results are expected to take months to return.”
He added: “The police do not and cannot rule on cause of death.”
Thurston Coroner Gary Warnock, in an interview with KING 5 this month, expressed his frustration with the Washington State Patrol crime lab and the time it takes to get a toxicology report.
The television station reported that in 2016, it took an average of 20 days, but this year that has grown to an average of 91 days.
The reason? Troopers are submitting twice as many toxicology samples as they did a decade ago to be more thorough in their DUI investigations, particularly in an era of wider marijuana and opioid use, according to KING 5.
Anyone with information about McDonald’s death is asked to contact Detective Al Weinnig at 360-753-8300 or email@example.com.