A woman who was found slain in her Terrace Heights home Sunday night died from multiple gunshot wounds, but authorities are saying little else for the time being.
Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins said although an autopsy Monday confirmed 30-year-old Desiree Sunford was the victim of a homicide, sheriff’s detectives need to keep details like the number of gunshots to themselves as they work to identify her killer.
“It was definitely multiple gunshot wounds,” Hawkins said.
Sheriff’s deputies found the body of Sunford, an art teacher at Wapato Middle School, shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday after her husband reported he was out of town and had not had contact with his wife since Saturday.
Police checked the couple’s home, in the 300 block of North St. Hilaire Road, and discovered that Sunford had suffered multiple gunshot wounds, Chief of Detectives Stew Graham said.
The remote 1,782-square-foot-home, separated by 100 yards or more from the nearest residence, is off Roza Hill Drive, about eight miles east of Yakima. County records show she and her husband, Scott Sunford, bought the 20-acre property in September.
Graham declined to discuss the case in detail, but confirmed some details as reported to sheriff’s dispatchers Sunday night.
According to dispatch notes, Scott Sunford called at 8:51 p.m. and said that he was on his way home and would like a deputy to meet him at the residence as he had received alerts of multiple alarm trips earlier in the day and had been unable to reach his wife.
Six minutes later, Sunford called back and said a board he had placed over a broken window following a recent burglary had been partly broken out.
Dispatchers said Sunford was now demanding that a deputy come out to the residence, saying he had been in the Tri-Cities area and repeating that he had not been able to get ahold of his wife.
Dispatchers said they called Desiree Sunford’s cellphone and left a message for her to call the sheriff’s office. They said Scott Sunford had just checked with his mother-in-law and that she hadn’t heard from her daughter, either.
At 9:02 p.m., dispatchers reported Scott Sunford said his wife’s vehicle was at the residence and that he was concerned that something might have happened to her. In response, the patrol supervisor promised a unit would be sent to the scene.
At 9:27, a deputy or possibly a Moxee police officer reported a female was “down” and that the scene was not secure. The nature of the call was soon switched to a homicide.
It was not clear from the dispatch notes whether Scott Sunford was at the home before deputies arrived.
Wapato schools Superintendent Becky Imler issued a statement Monday afternoon, saying counselors were on hand to help assist students and staff.
“Desiree was in her second year of teaching for the district, and her death is certainly shocking and a loss to the Wapato Public School’s family,” the statement said. “We offer her family our support and condolences during this very difficult time.”
The homicide was the fourth of the year in Yakima County, including one in the city of Yakima, one in Union Gap and one in a remote area of the Yakama Reservation west of Wapato.
That number does not include the March 8 death of 27-year-old McKaylee Higgs, who was fatally shot by her husband in the bedroom of their Terrace Heights duplex after he allegedly mistook her for an intruder. That case remains under investigation.
Investigators ask anyone with information about the Sunford homicide investigation to contact the sheriff’s office at 509-574-2500 or through the anonymous Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-222-TIPS.
Tips may also be sent via text message (274637 plus YAKCO and your message) or at www.crimestoppersyakco.org.