Medical Examiner: Cheryl DeBoer death ruled a suicide

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    Cheryl DeBoer

    The Mountlake Terrace Police Department and supporting agencies have completed their investigation into the manner of death of Cheryl DeBoer, a 53-year-old Mountlake Terrace woman who was last heard from on the morning of Monday, Feb. 8. They have determined her death was a suicide.

    On Feb. 8, DeBoer was reported missing after failing to arrive for work. DeBoer’s vehicle was later discovered in the 23400 block of 58th Avenue West in Mountlake Terrace. According to investigators, the vehicle and surrounding area revealed no evidence of assault, abduction or struggle.

    On Feb. 14, DeBoer’s body was discovered by search crews in a culvert located at the intersection of 244th Street Southwest and Cedar Way, also in Mountlake Terrace. DeBoer had a plastic bag loosely taped over her head. The autopsy, performed by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner, determined asphyxiation and fresh water drowning as the cause of death. DeBoer’s toxicology results revealed an absence of any substance that could have contributed to her death. Additionally, the autopsy did not reveal any injuries consistent with DeBoer being a victim of an assault, abduction or struggle. Assistant Police Chief Pete Caw said that a substance that initially tested to be animal blood was actually a sugary substance that will sometimes test positive for blood before further analysis is completed.

    After the Mountlake Terrace Police Department has completed their investigation into DeBoer’s death, investigators met with members of the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office to discuss forensic, medical, physical and circumstantial evidence discovered during the investigation. After a thorough review of the evidence in the investigation, the Medical Examiner determined suicide as the manner of DeBoer’s death.

    Mountlake Terrace Police recently met with the family members to discuss the findings of the investigation.  Mike DeBoer, Cheryl’s husband, thanked the community for their support over the past several months and expressed his appreciation for the thorough and careful work of the Mountlake Terrace Police Department and for the manner in which detectives interacted with the family.

    The family asks for everyone to please respect their privacy during this difficult time.

    7 COMMENTS

    1. I hope and pray the family has closure this does not make sense as a suicide but I do not know all circumstances that have occurred so if the family is satisfied with this ruling then I support them. Cheryl will be missed in our community I pray she knows that she was loved by many!

    2. Police need to release the details and explain how a determination of suicide was made or the public will never rest. I understand the family’s need for privacy, but this ncident really concerned a great deal of people who are still very afraid.

    3. Sugary substance? “Assistant Police Chief Pete Caw said that a substance that initially tested to be animal blood was actually a sugary substance that will sometimes test positive for blood before further analysis is completed.” This seems odd. Are we talking about gummy bears or some sort of unidentifiable substance? And what test would mistake sugar for animal blood? Are there any details on this?

    4. To D Brown: found this book:

      http://bit.ly/2b2sbdW

      The relevant portion is:

      “w6.5 Nonblood evidence at the Scene: Detecting sugars using Hemastix Strips

      w6.5.1 Hemastix Strips:

      HemaStix strps have pad impregnated with TMB. Although these strips give a positive test with blood, the reaction is a single step, with means there is a heightened possibility of obtaining a false test positive.

      w6.5.2 Sugar-containing stains

      Scenes of crime have different types of stains that can often be mistaken for blood. One of these occures from spilled or sprayed soda pop, such as coke or pepsi”

      Basically, it seems what they are saying is that there are stains that might initially look like blood; and of course you have to test all of them. The field test has a high rate of false positives for blood. But this likely isn’t necessarily bad; what would be bad is if it had a high rate of false negatives. Because there will always be follow up lab testing to determine whether the initial result can be supported. At least that’s my reading of it! Smarter people can weigh in…

      But it seems likely that this is a whole lot of nothing; Essentially it seems like this: “the cops have to test everything that looks like it might be blood; they do a field test that is known to give false positives to stains that have sugars in them (like spilled coke). But that’s OK because the definitive test will be given later; which is was, and it was determined to be a sugary substance.”

      I am not the police and do not know any of the people who investigated this. But given that the family has apparently accepted the findings and expressed appreciation to the investigators, I can only think that continued talk about this can only be extremely painful to the family.

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