No leads in murder of Cashmere orchardist

CASHMERE — After six months, there are few leads in the murder of a 76-year-old Cashmere orchardist found shot in his home.

There was minimal evidence left at the scene of James McClendon’s murder. There were also no witnesses, said Chelan County Sheriff’s Office chief of special operations Jason Mathews.

“Usually, with this kind of case, there is a witness or a fight or something but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this one,” he told the Wenatchee World.

The Texas native and Navy veteran and former dairyman in Marshall, Texas, moved to Cashmere in 1978 where he became an orchardist.

For months after the death, sheriff’s officials declined to give details about the crime, saying they did not want to impede the investigation. Enough time has gone by now, they said, that they are willing to discuss the case.

Deputies were called to the McClendon home about 10:45 a.m. last September after a neighbor heard a gunshot and called 911. The neighbor found McClendon sitting in a chair in the living room, Mathews said.

Officials determined that he had been killed within 30 minutes before deputies arriving at the scene. McClendon had no defensive wounds. The weapon was not found.

McClendon had been shot in the head with a small-caliber handgun, Mathews said.

“There was nothing in the house that showed signs of a struggle, not like a robbery or it did not appear to have been a burglary,” Mathews said.

He said detectives talked to witnesses who saw McClendon “in and around town” about an hour before he was killed.

Two detectives continue to work the case, Mathews said.

“We’ve conducted lots of interviews of people from this area and from out of the area and are waiting for some results from the crime lab,” Mathews said.

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