Detective solves case while investigating unrelated one

TULALIP — According to his colleagues, detective Joe Dunn has an excellent eye for detail, and what some may describe as a photographic memory.

That’s how he helped solve an espresso stand robbery while working an unrelated homicide earlier this month.

Dunn and his partner, Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Jim Scharf, had been investigating Michele Donohue, who was charged with murder Wednesday after police found human remains believed to be her ex-husband’s body buried at her property.

Donohue worked at the Tulalip Resort Casino. Investigators were there on a stakeout Feb. 7 when Dunn spotted a black Chevrolet Blazer in the parking lot, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.

The Blazer appeared to match the getaway car used in a robbery reported at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Where To Get Espresso stand on N. Machias Road, just outside Lake Stevens. Surveillance video from the robbery was circulated among the sheriff’s detectives, Ireton said.

The Blazer in the casino parking lot appeared to share unique features with the Blazer in the robbery video, Dunn said.

Major-crimes detectives took pictures of the Blazer in the parking lot to compare to the surveillance video.

The surveillance cameras were inside the espresso stand and “captured the entire robbery,” Ireton said.

The video showed a woman brandish a silver revolver and drive off with $112, 20 packs of cigarettes and the tip jar. The barista couldn’t get the Blazer’s license plate, in part because the suspect had obscured the letters and numbers under a layer of shaving cream, Ireton said.

Back at the casino parking lot, the Blazer that Dunn spotted had a scratched-up and hard to read license plate, according to the detectives.

There was a camouflage duffle-type bag in the front seat that appeared to match a bag seen in the robbery video, Dunn said.

In addition, the wrinkles in the leather upholstery inside the car appeared “to match like a fingerprint” with the robber’s Blazer, Dunn said.

The trim was a similar color, and one of the stickers looked like a match, too, Dunn said.

The detectives needed to get a search warrant. But now, police had the license plate number.

The Blazer was registered to a 30-year-old woman with an address near Lake Goodwin, south of Stanwood.

At about 9 a.m. Feb. 10, a sheriff’s deputy was in the Tulalip area and saw the Blazer. The woman was in the passenger seat, and a man was driving.

The deputy attempted to pull the car over. A brief chase ensued.

“It took off and ended up rolling over off of Quil Ceda Boulevard,” Ireton said.

The man in the driver’s seat was arrested on warrants. The woman was booked for investigation of first-degree robbery.

“It just shows you how things come together when you have a Major Crimes Unit that works together like we do here at the sheriff’s office,” Scharf said.

The woman also is being investigated in a forgery case in Marysville, court papers show. Charges in that case were filed Friday, alleging that she was found in possession of a stolen check.

The woman posted bond Monday afternoon, according to the county jail log.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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