How a 57-year-old woman died in her Sequim apartment on Jan. 2 remains under investigation by Sequim Police Department and the Clallam County Coroner’s office as of Tuesday, Jan. 8.
A crime-tape barrier laced part of the Sunbelt Apartments, 505 S. Fifth Ave., where the deceased woman, Valerie Claplanhoo, lived, while the Sequim Police Department and State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team proceeded with their investigation.
Mark Nichols, Clallam County prosecuting attorney-coroner, said last week Claplanhoo’s death was deemed suspicious, which means Sequim Police Department will investigate a range of options from natural causes to a potential homicide.
Nichols and Police Chief Sheri Crain would not discuss where in the house Claplanhoo’s body was found or details of the discovery.
“Until we know the whys and hows, we’re not going to give details on how she was found,” Crain said Jan. 3.
Sequim police received a call at 1:41 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, about the deceased woman being found in her apartment, Crain said.
Nichols said an autopsy would be performed on Claplanhoo on Jan. 7 and that he hoped to have at least preliminary results on the cause of her death by Wednesday, Jan. 9.
However, Staff Sgt. Sean Madison with Sequim Police Department said Jan. 8 that scheduling problems with other investigations delayed the autopsy to Tuesday morning.
Last week, Nichols said there was no indication that Claplanhoo’s death was related to the recent triple homicide of three shooting victims at 52 Bear Meadow Road off Deer Park Road east of Port Angeles. The bodies of homeowner Darrell C. Iverson, 57; his son, Jordan D. Iverson, 27, and Tiffany A. May, 26, Jordan Iverson’s girlfriend, were found at the home on Monday, New Year’s Eve.
Crain said Claplanhoo, whose 57th birthday was Sunday, Dec. 30, did not die from a gunshot wound.
“We’re not able to clearly and quickly come to a conclusion on the cause of death,” Crain said.
“There are no clues that are telling us one thing over another.”
The Sunbelt Apartments are owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority and are operated under a master lease by Serenity House of Clallam County.
Serenity House Executive Director Doc Robinson said nine residents in the front wing had to leave their apartments during the investigation into Claplanhoo’s death. Residents stayed in a hotel for two nights. Crime tape was removed from the scene by Jan. 4.
Robinson said he did not have any details on the case and said Sequim Police told his case manager at the apartments not to discuss Claplanhoo’s death with anybody.
Claplanhoo and other Sunbelt residents are classified by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as 100-percent disabled with mental disabilities and/or physical ailments. Robinson said the residents qualify as chronically homeless by being homeless for at least a year.
“Most of them have significant emotional and/or chemical dependency issues currently or in the past,” Robinson said.
“Some are physically disabled.”
While the residents were displaced, a case manager shuttled between the apartments and the unnamed Sequim hotel where nine residents slept Wednesday night, Robinson said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew Nash of the Sequim Gazette contributed to this story. Reach him at email@example.com.