Bloody shoe print leads cops to murder suspect; human remains found in car

  • Fri Jan 8th, 2010 1:32pm
  • News

By Jackson Holtz and Diana Hefley Herald Writers

EVERETT — Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives say a bloody shoe print on a T-shirt inside Sherry Harlan’s Everett apartment links a Gold Bar man to her disappearance and presumed killing.

The print from blood on a shoe with a zig zag-pattern sole was found as investigators combed Harlan’s rental unit Wednesday for clues after she’d been reported missing.

Despite someone’s apparent effort to clean the apartment with bleach and remove about 18 square feet of carpet, the detectives found blood in numerous locations. There also were cuts through a futon mattress and others signs of a violent struggle.

Later, when detectives searched an apartment near Gold Bar where Harlan’s ex-boyfriend lives, they found a pair of red-and-black basketball shoes with a sole pattern that matches the bloody shoeprint, according a police report.

They also found a pair of blood-soaked jeans. Somebody appears to have tried to clean the pants using bleach.

Detectives used these findings and other evidence to ask a judge to jail the ex-boyfriend for investigation of second-degree murder. He is a convicted felon and Level-1 sex offender.

Police on Thursday put the man in the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of failing to register as a sex offender.

The ex-boyfriend appeared before an Everett District Court judge this afternoon where his bail was set at $2 million.

Officials said the burned out wreckage of a car was found Thursday night near Gold Bar contained partial human remains.

“The vehicle has not yet been confirmed to be Sherry Harlan’s missing 1989 Nissan Sentra. It is too badly damaged to make an immediate identification,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

The human remains will be examined by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The man, 40, told police he hasn’t seen her, her car or her dog, Roscoe, since the former couple fought on Saturday.

Phone records showed the last time Harlan took a call was early Saturday. The call came from her ex-boyfriend’s phone.

Friends, neighbors and Harlan’s co-workers at JC Penney in Lynnwood all became concerned when the 35-year-old didn’t show up for shifts since New Year’s Day.

Police were called Tuesday night and by Wednesday detectives called Harlan’s disappearance suspicious.

The ex-boyfriend had helped Harlan move into the apartment just after Christmas, a friend told police.

A neighbor told detectives that Harlan said the man had “beat her to a bloody pulp” in the past. Harlan was afraid to break up with the man, fearing he’d kill her, police said.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud and violent confrontation between a man and a woman Saturday in Harlan’s apartment. Witnesses saw someone matching the ex-boyfriend’s description at the apartment.

That was four days before Harlan was reported missing. One neighbor reported seeing the ex-boyfriend the day of the argument huddled down next to Harlan’s car. Roscoe, the dog, was inside.

The neighbor asked where Harlan was. The ex-boyfriend said he didn’t know, but said it was her dog in the car.

When police caught up with the ex-boyfriend on Wednesday, they noticed he had numerous wounds that appeared to have come from a fight. He told detectives that after he left Harlan’s apartment, he’d been jumped by “Mexicans.”

On Tuesday, four days after Harland disappeared, a witness in Gold Bar said he saw the man with Harlan’s dog.

The ex-boyfriend said that Harlan “didn’t need the dog anymore,” detectives wrote in their report.

Detectives haven’t found the dog.