Clinton resident arrested in slaying of Bellingham woman | UPDATE
July 9, 2011 · 10:28 AM
A frantic police search across South Whidbey ended Thursday evening in the arrest of a Clinton woman wanted in the killing of a Bellingham woman earlier this week.
Police said Kara Jo Buchanan may be responsible for the death of Kriston A. Dunya. Dunya, 32, was discovered shot dead in her Bellingham apartment July 5 by a co-worker who went to check on her after she didn’t show up for work for two days.
Officials said they searched for “significant evidence” at Buchanan’s home Thursday, and recovered a shotgun that may have been used in the murder.
Authorities said Friday they could not say definitively yet whether the gun found in Buchanan’s home is the murder weapon.
“We don’t know if that’s the gun or not; we’ll have to check,” said Lt. Rick Sucee of the Bellingham Police Department.
Detectives found a link to Buchanan while searching the murder victim’s apartment, but received a voice mail message from Buchanan as they were headed to her home on South Whidbey on Thursday.
Buchanan allegedly confessed to the crime, but also told police she was going to kill herself.
Police rushed to her home, but she was gone. Law enforcement agencies fanned out across the South End to find her; the search was conducted by the Bellingham Police Department with assistance from the Island County Sheriff’s Office and the Langley Police Department.
The extensive dragnet was hard to miss. Marked and unmarked police cars raced north and south on Highway 525, mostly south of Freeland, searching for Buchanan, and responders from Fire District 3 were stationed near Bayview as the search continued.
Buchanan was eventually found on the beach at Double Bluff and was bleeding badly from self-inflicted cuts to her wrists. She was arrested at approximately 6 p.m. Thursday and taken to Whidbey General Hospital and later, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, for surgery.
Buchanan is still at Harborview, Sucee said. Her injuries were described as serious, but not life-threatening.
Bellingham police officers are standing watch over Buchanan at Harborview.
Buchanan, 40, is a massage specialist at Spa Essencia at The Inn at Langley, according to the company’s website. Calls to the spa went unanswered Friday.
Police said Buchanan may have had a relationship with the murder victim’s estranged husband, Keayn Dunya, and that the killing may have been in order to keep Dunya from losing custody of his son.
Authorities are currently trying to find out more about the nature of the relationship between Buchanan and Keayn.
Whidbey authorities declined to speak at length about the pursuit and arrest.
Langley Police Department and Island County deputies were called in to assist the Bellingham Police Department, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said Friday. Island County deployed five deputies and detectives to assist in the search, while two Langley officers were involved, according to Brown.
“Our role was simply to locate her as an assisting agency to the Bellingham Police,” Brown said.
Langley Police Chief Randy Heston acknowledged his officers were also involved in the search, and deferred questions about the case to Bellingham Police.
According to news reports, evidence collected at the murder scene includes security camera footage from a nearby apartment complex and the Whatcom Educational Credit Union office.
Buchanan has been a Whidbey resident since at least 2005 and her last listed address was on Windfall Road, a heavily wooded neighborhood north of Campbell Road in Clinton, according to public records.
A neighbor said Friday that she does not know the suspect. Buchanan’s co-workers did not immediately return calls to the Record.
Bellingham Police said Keayn Dunya was arrested Thursday for failing to appear in court on a charge of driving with a suspended license (third degree) and booked into the Whatcom County Jail in Bellingham, but was released from custody Friday.
Authorities said he was “a person of interest” to police in the death of his wife, but he has not been arrested in connection to the killing.