Text messages led to 2 arrests in Sultan man’s killing

SULTAN — “It’s done.”

That was the text message police allege Brent Starr sent his girlfriend, Debra Canady, after beating her ex-boyfriend to death, according to court documents filed Monday in Everett District Court.

Starr, 30, and Canady, 46, were arrested Friday for investigation of first-degree murder in the June 26 death of David Grimm. He was 49.

“This murder was vicious and the victim didn’t even appear to have a chance to defend himself,” police said in court documents.

The arrests came after detectives used a search warrant to access text-message records at the cell-phone company. The search recovered a conversation the couple believed they’d erased but that instead documented their alleged involvement in the killing, according to court papers.

The cell-phone text messages show Canady knew the killing was going to take place and that it was “possibly at her direction,” Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Patrick VanderWeyst wrote.

Detectives believe Starr slipped into the Sultan home where Grimm slept and killed him in his bed. Police found blood splattered around the room.

The Snohomish County medical examiner determined Grimm died of “homicidal violence.” He had a fractured skull and there was evidence of more than 15 blows to his head.

Police allege that Starr and Canady had a motive for wanting Grimm dead.

Detectives learned Canady and Grimm had lived together in her house as boyfriend and girlfriend for about three years before breaking up a few months ago. Grimm refused to move out after Canady and Starr began dating. Still, the former couple continued to sometimes share a bed, the court documents said.

Detectives believe Starr and Canady often spent the night in Starr’s trailer in Gold Bar, but more frequently the new couple slept in the Sultan home, Starr sleeping on a sofa.

Canady’s mother also lived in the Sultan home. The mother told police she didn’t hear anything the night of the killing, the court documents said. She wasn’t hurt.

Tensions had been building. Starr told detectives Grimm stood in the way of his relationship with Canady. For a short time, Grimm moved out, and then he moved back in.

Detectives found embarrassing photos of a sexual nature when they searched a safe in the home and a briefcase Grimm had in his pickup truck, according to court papers.

Detectives believe it was possible the photos were being kept by Grimm as a means for him to force Canady to allow him to stay in her home.

The photos allegedly depict Canady engaging in bestiality, the documents said.

On the day of the killing, Canady returned to her Sultan home around 6 a.m. from Starr’s Gold Bar trailer. She called police to report finding Grimm dead.

Detectives learned Canady and Starr sent each other text messages that morning.

At 3:46 a.m., Starr allegedly sent Canady a message that read, “It’s done,” and asked his girlfriend to fetch a change of pants, the court documents said.

Later, he reportedly sent another message telling her he found clean pants and apologized for making a mess of Grimm’s room.

Canady allegedly instructed Starr to toss his clothes if police questioned him and to erase the text messages from his cell phone.

Believing the text-message conversation about the death had been erased permanently, the couple then allegedly sent each other additional text messages expressing surprise over the death in what detectives believed was a bogus conversation to cover their tracks, the court documents said.

On Monday, a judge maintained bail for Starr at $1 million, and $500,000 for Canady.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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