Autopsy indicates Sequim woman’s death a homicide

Authorities continue to investigate the death of a 57-year-old Sequim woman after an autopsy revealed that she died of traumatic injuries due to homicidal violence, Mark Nichols, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney-Coroner, said Thursday, Jan. 10.

The body of Valerie Ann Claplanhoo, a Makah tribal member, was found Jan. 2 in her Sunbelt Apartments unit at 505 S. Fifth Ave.

The complex is owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority and operated by Serenity House of Clallam County as a facility for the chronically homeless.

The Sequim Police Department is leading the investigation.

Police Chief Sheri Crain would not comment Jan. 10 on suspects or persons of interest in the case.

The autopsy was on Tuesday, Jan. 8. Nichols said more information on how Claplanhoo died will be described in an autopsy report that he will likely receive next week.

“I can tell you that this case is not one that appears to involve gunshot injuries to the victim,” Nichols said.

Nichols ruled out gunshot violence “for the purpose of distinguishing this homicide to those that occurred at 52 Bear Meadow Road,” he said.

The county Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Deer Park-area gunshot deaths of Darrell C. Iverson, 57, his son Jordan D. Iverson, 27, and the son’s girlfriend Tiffany A. May, 26.

They were killed on or about Dec. 26.

The Iversons’ bodies were found Dec. 31 in the Bear Meadow Road house and May’s body Jan. 1 in an outbuilding.

Claplanhoo’s autopsy was delayed because of the autopsies of the Deer Park-area victims, Crain said.

Crain said she is awaiting the results of a toxicology report on Claplanhoo’s death.

“We have questions that we need to be answered, and we are continuing to investigate,” she said.

“We have a lot of things we are doing now.

“That includes interviewing, that includes processing evidence.”

Sequim Police Staff Sgt. Sean Madison said on jan. 10 that it appeared Claplanhoo lived alone.

The police department paid for hotel rooms covering Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 for more than a half-dozen Sunbelt Apartments occupants during the initial stage of the investigation.

Madison said the apartment complex consists of two wings separated by hallways, off which there are apartments.

The on-site investigation focused “on one particular room,” he said.

“We were going to be a significant disruption in the day-to-day lives of people there, especially in that wing,” he said.

“It seemed appropriate to help them have other accommodations, to make sure their lives were not terribly disrupted.”

Anyone with information on circumstances surrounding Claplanhoo’s death should call the Sequim police at 360-683-7227.

“Anyone who calls us can ask for anonymity,” Madison said.

“We will respect that.”

Paul Gottlieb is a Senior Staff Writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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