Apparently self-inflicted cuts found on dead woman’s fingers

Cheryl DeBoer

Cheryl DeBoer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — An autopsy found small, apparently self-inflicted cuts on two of Cheryl DeBoer’s fingers, Mountlake Terrace police reported Wednesday.

The disclosure came a day after the release of a search warrant that revealed blood was found in the Mountlake Terrace woman’s abandoned car.

DeBoer, 53, disappeared around 7 a.m. on Feb. 8, a Monday and the beginning of her work week at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Her Subaru Legacy was found later that day in the 23400 block of 58th Avenue W near the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center.

On Sunday, DeBoer’s body was discovered by search crews in a culvert along Lyon Creek at 244th Street SW and Cedar Way in Mountlake Terrace.

More results of the autopsy are pending, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner.

“Mountlake Terrace detectives continue to investigate this case as a homicide,” assistant chief Pete Caw said. “However, other possible causes of death are also being investigated.”

It is important to let the facts support a theory, not to let a theory control the facts, Caw said.

More facts, including a determination of the cause and manner of death, need to be gathered, he said.

The assistant chief said the medical examiner determined the cuts on DeBoer’s fingers were self-inflicted. That means the cuts could have been accidental or deliberate, but they weren’t caused by another person, he said.

Several search warrants have been executed and a significant amount of evidence has been collected. Lab work and forensic analysis are under way, police said.

That will take time, and the department urged patience.

“While the City recognizes the community’s desire for more information related to DeBoer, the integrity of the investigation must be maintained while leads are followed,” police said in a news release.

In the search warrant, which was written two days after DeBoer dropped from sight, police wrote that the disappearance was completely out of character based on interviews with her family and friends.

“She has no known physical health issues, no known mental health issues or past history of suicidal ideations,” the document said.

The search warrant also described blood in DeBoer’s car, some on the passenger seat.

Police have been examining a text conversation from DeBoer’s cellphone and a fellow commuter that morning. In the conversation, a text from DeBoer’s phone indicated that she forgot her work badge and needed to go home to retrieve it. The text indicated that it would take about 10 minutes. Her cellphone powered off a short time later.

Mountlake Terrace police continue to patrol in and around the transit center and encourage people to report any suspicious activity.

Chief Greg Wilson offered several safety tips Wednesday:

Look around and keep your head up. Do you see someone or something strange or out of place? If so, please call 911.

Select parking spaces in well-lighted areas if possible and avoid parking in remote areas.

Don’t walk with headphones on. Pay attention to your surroundings and what you hear.

If something just doesn’t seem right, it may not be. Trust “gut feelings” and take steps to remain safe.

Walk with confidence and purpose.

Carry keys and use a car alarm or panic button to attract attention.

Let family and friends know your whereabouts and if you will be late.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446;

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