Police are trying to determine whether a Washougal, Wash., man who was supposed to turn himself in to face sex crimes charges died in a fire that consumed his home and killed at least two people, or if he escaped in the hail of gunfire that greeted firefighters and police who came to put out the blaze.
The house's resident, Steven D. Stanbary, 47, was being investigated for multiple sexual crimes. On Dec. 6, Washougal detectives had given Stanbary two days to turn himself in, through an arrangement with his attorney.
But on Dec. 7 around 8:00 am, Stanbary's house caught fire.
"As two citizens attempted to see if the residence was occupied and were knocking on the door and window they were able to see a male inside who told them to get away and then started shooting a gun," according to the police.
A police officer parked in front of the residence, but his car was immediately struck by at least five bullets. The officer drove several hundred feet away, got out of his car and sought cover.
Investigators found two charred bodies inside the burned home, but identifying them will take several weeks. One dog that died as a result of a gunshot wound was also discovered.
Police said the case is being investigated as a murder-suicide.
"Investigators believe strongly that Steve Stanbary is the suspect and that his remains have likely been recovered…based upon personal effects and identifying items found in proximity to remains located with the ruins of the residence," said Sgt. Kevin Allais.
Police also have several videos taken from smart phones and digital cameras that lead them to believe the remains found are those of Stanbary.
Stanbary's wife, Leona M. Bolton, and her identical twin sister, Mona K. Daugherty, who are both unaccounted for, also lived at the residence, which police say will complicate the identifications. Stanbary is also still unaccounted for.