Arlington woman charged with 2004 murder of husband

ARLINGTON — In September 2004, Michele Donohue reportedly ordered four loads of dirt to be delivered to the rural house she had shared with her husband.

She told the Marysville company she was making a hill for her daughter to use for sledding.

Prosecutors believe Donohue bought the 48 yards of dirt to cover up a murder.

Donohue, 48, is accused of killing her husband, Byron Wright, dismembering his body and burying his remains nearly a decade ago. Some time later, her new husband and his two buddies allegedly dug up Wright’s body and buried him under a shop floor.

Last month, Wright’s remains were recovered from a plastic tote and two bags secreted under two feet of dirt and a cement floor.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Donohue with second-degree domestic violence murder.

An autopsy revealed that Wright, 53, died of homicidal violence. He suffered multiple sharp force injuries to his head and neck, according to court papers.

Donohue allegedly told her new husband that she stabbed Wright in their kitchen. She also reportedly told another witness that Wright asked her to call an ambulance. She refused because Wright wouldn’t apologize, the witnesses told Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives.

Donohue divorced Wright in October 2004, about a month after he was fired from his job at Boeing for failing to show up. He had been a steady worker there for 23 years. Donohue allegedly told family, friends and the court that her husband ran off with a wealthy, twentysomething redhead.

She said he left behind everything, including his beloved car collection.

Donohue denied killing Wright when questioned by detectives last month. She also denied knowing that Wright’s body was buried on the property.

Prosecutors allege that Donohue concocted a ruse to explain Wright’s disappearance. His sister sent him a birthday card in 2006. Donohue allegedly called Wright’s sister, telling her a slightly different story than what she reported in her divorce paperwork.

She allegedly said Wright left her about three years earlier for a younger co-worker and the pair moved to Wisconsin.

Wright’s sister tried to file a missing person’s report but none was taken. She also began investigating on her own and created a Facebook page in Wright’s name in hopes of locating him, court papers said.

Detectives in December began investigating Wright’s disappearance after receiving a tip from a confidential informant that Wright’s body was hidden on the property, located on Wade Road.

The informant told police that there was illegal activity on the property, including a “chop shop.” He said he became concerned that Donohue might call the cops to get back at her current husband.

The witness said Donohue’s husband mistreated her and had moved his younger, pregnant girlfriend onto the property.

One of the men who allegedly helped move Wright’s remains assured the informant that Donohue wouldn’t call police because she had killed her ex-husband.

The informant agreed to wear a wire while talking with one of the men accused of helping move Wright’s body. The man allegedly admitted to his part in hiding the killing while speaking with the informant.

Donohue also reportedly is captured on tape complaining about her current husband and making statements about “hoping someone would get rid of him,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Cindy Larsen wrote in court papers.

Donohue is being held on $1 million bail.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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