In the nearly four years since Felina Blanch Metsker was reported missing, family and friends of the young Yakama mother watched and waited for answers in her disappearance and death.
Authorities took a missing person report on April 1, 2016. That day, they investigated a possible crime scene at the trailer where the former White Swan resident was staying on Barkes Road near Harrah. Metsker, 33, was last seen in the area March 25, investigators said.
The FBI offered a reward of up to $10,000 for tips regarding Metsker’s suspicious disappearance. Searchers found remains of an adult female in a remote area south of White Swan on May 5, 2016. They were identified as Metsker’s about a year later, and her death was listed as a homicide.
On Wednesday, the last of three people indicted in Metsker’s death was sentenced in a closed hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Bastian.
Nicole Lee Sunny Cloud, 30, was sentenced to 24 months on a misprision of felony charge for her role in Metsker’s murder and 105 months for attempted aggravated sexual assault for a May 2018 incident in the Yakima County jail in which she and three others assaulted another inmate. Cloud will serve the sentences concurrently, with credit for time served.
Cloud’s attorney, Ulvar Klein, sought an 84-month prison term.
The misprision of felony charge says Cloud knew Metsker had been murdered but didn’t report it as soon as possible to someone in civil or military authority. It is a lesser charge than accessory after the fact, Klein said.
Cloud and her sister, Kristen Ashlie Windy Cloud, were originally indicted on one count each of accessory after the fact, accused of assisting brothers George Skylar Cloud and Neil Cloud “in order to hinder and prevent their apprehension, trial and punishment,” court documents said.
George Cloud was found guilty by a federal jury in January 2019 of first-degree murder and using a firearm in a violent crime in connection with Metsker’s death. He was sentenced in May to life without parole.
Cloud also received two consecutive 10-year prison sentences for discharging a firearm in crimes of violence. One sentence was for Metsker, whom he thought snitched to authorities about a carjacking he committed in March 2016, and the second was for wounding a woman in that carjacking.
Prosecutors have said Neil Cloud helped kill Metsker. He himself was murdered — stabbed and his throat slit — in the summer of 2017. His remains were found in Medicine Valley off Towtnuk Road in September 2017.
In December 2018, Kristen Cloud and Nicole Cloud entered guilty pleas to one count each of misprision of a felony, charges filed in superseding indictments. Kristen Cloud was sentenced in March 2019 to serve an 18-month federal prison term, followed by a one-year term of court supervision after her release.
In seeking 84 months for Nicole Cloud, Klein mentioned “her horrific upbringing.” She has been in trouble since birth, he said in his sentencing memorandum.
“Initially, trouble consisted of extreme neglect from a drug-
addicted mother. She grew up in squalor and filth and learned to accept such a lifestyle,” Klein wrote. “She was too young then to understand the disadvantages this caused and to this day does not recognize the damage that was done to her so early in her life.”
By the time she was 8, Cloud’s troubles also included a history of sexual abuse for which no counseling was provided, according to court documents. “Substance abuse then began at an astoundingly young age and has continued” up to her arrest on the charges.
“The Cloud family was so dysfunctional that preteen marijuana and alcohol abuse was considered normal and was not in any meaningful way discouraged. Regular heroin use, opioid abuse and methamphetamine addiction predictably followed,” the sentencing memorandum says. “Various stints in foster care did nothing to break the cycle.
Klein declined to say why Wednesday’s hearing was closed, noting he never discusses the reasons. After granting an oral motion to close the sentencing hearing, Bastian asked anyone not involved in the case to leave. Beyond court officials and attorneys, only a few people attended.
Cloud could be seen standing before Bastian with her attorney. She “clearly recognizes how wrong she was and will attempt to express these feelings to the court,” Klein’s sentencing memorandum said.
In a footnote, Klein said Cloud is not comfortable expressing her feelings. “She fears that in court she may have difficulty. This may manifest as apparent glibness or even giggles. She will try to maintain an appropriate demeanor,” he wrote.
In his sentencing memorandum, Klein also said the lack of successful intervention and extensive counseling for Cloud contributed to her “extremely hard exterior persona on the one hand, but also an incredibly vulnerable affect to her family.
“Thus, she is capable of acting aggressive and tough in jail while being meek and utterly submissive to her brothers,” he wrote.
Donovan Culps, a White Swan man who was sentenced to more than 35 years for killing a marijuana store employee in Cheney in 2017, was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2018 on a first-degree murder charge in Neil Cloud’s death. He was charged after telling a Spokane television reporter that he stabbed and slit the throat of a man on the Yakama reservation because that man killed the mother of his child.
Another man, George Skyhawk Thompson, 22, was sentenced in July to a 14-year prison term for his role in Cloud’s murder. He was indicted in March 2018 on one count of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.