New documents say double homicide suspect left bloody fingerprint - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New documents say double homicide suspect left bloody fingerprint

Justin Crenshaw Justin Crenshaw
Sarah Clark Sarah Clark
Tanner Pehl Tanner Pehl
Justin Crenshaw Justin Crenshaw

SPOKANE, Wash. - New court documents released in the Justin Crenshaw double murder case say the fire that destroyed the home was started in the kitchen, before Crenshaw fled through the backdoor leaving a bloody print on the way out.

The documents say that when firefighters entered the home they found 20-year old Tanner Pehl's body in the hallway of the home and 18-year old Sarah Clark's body in a nearby bedroom. Both appeared to have been killed with a "cutting instrument."

The documents also say fire investigators pinpointed the origin of the fire to the kitchen stovetop. Detectives believe 20-year old Justin Crenshaw killed the two victims then left through the backdoor, leaving a bloody fingerprint that was later matched to the little finger on his left hand.

Although the documents state that the fire started in the kitchen, they do not detail how it was started.

Both Pehl and Clark were remembered at ceremonies this week.


Court documents released last Friday said authorities believed the identity of the second victim in Thursday's homicide to be Sarah A. Clark. Late that evening the Spokane County Medical Examiner confirmed the identity. The documents also stated that Justin Crenshaw and Clark were a couple.

Authorities say based on evidence presented in the court documents they believe Justin Crenshaw murdered Sarah Clark and Tanner Pehl then drove Sarah Clark's vehicle to the unoccupied apartment of a friend. They say he then cleaned himself up and changed clothes, then left Clark's car about five blocks from his house and then walked home.

Justin Crenshaw's aunt issued condolences to the families of the two victims Friday afternoon, and explained the circumstances surrounding Justin staying in their North Spokane County home.

She told police Justin and his sister were separated at birth, and that she adopted the girl while the suspect was raised by his natural parents.

"Justin knew of his sister, but only recently met her on www.myspace.com" she said.

"He came to Spokane on February 11th to meet his sister in person for the first time, and decided to stay. We really did not know Justin, but allowed him to live with us for that short period."

Detectives said Crenshaw became attracted to his sister's best friend, the young woman he is now accused of killing. Crenshaw's aunt said the relationship had affected the relationship he had just formed with his sister.


Detectives have arrested a 20-year old Las Vegas, Nevada man for the slayings of a man and woman in North Spokane County Thursday. Their bodies were found in a burning house at 512 East Elm.

Justin Crenshaw was arrested and booked into the Spokane County Jail around 2:30 a.m. Friday, and was charged with two counts of First-Degree Murder.

Detectives learned that Crenshaw was an acquaintance of the female victim late Thursday and contacted him at a relative's home. He was taken downtown and a search warrant was executed to get his fingerprints.

The female victim has been tentatively identified but her name is being withheld until it is confirmed. The male victim was identified Thursday evening as 20-year old Tanner E. Pehl, the son of the homeowner where the crime occurred.

At a Thursday news conference a Sheriff's Office spokesperson said that after finding the bodies it quickly became apparent that both victims died of homicidal violence and not fire. Detectives revealed Friday that the two victims apparently died from cutting and stabbing wounds.

A sword similar to a scimitar and a sword similar to a samurai, were found near the bodies, although detectives said their relationship to the murders was still unclear, and they would continue searching for other possible murder weapons.

Detectives said Crenshaw has only been in Spokane a couple of weeks and is believed to be a short-term boyfriend of the female victim.


Around 4:30 a.m. Thursday a motorist driving by saw smoke coming out of the home at 512 E. Elm. He stopped and tried to alert the residents but no one answered the door. He ran to the neighbor's home and called 911.

Spokane Sheriff's deputies kicked in the front door broke a back window and tried to use their patrol car's extinguishers on the flames.

Fire fighters arrived a short time later. When they entered the house they found a body in a hallway. Officials initially thought body was a fire victim but say they saw evidence that lead them to believe the victim died of other causes.

Deputies found a second victim in a bedroom. At the Thursday news conference a Sheriff's Office spokesperson commented that it quickly became apparent that both victims died of homicidal violence and not fire.

Firefighters battled the fire characterized as "stubborn," while deputies taped off the area they believed to be a crime scene.

Firefighters, who are investigating the fire as an arson, thought they had extinguished the fire by 7 a.m. However, they discovered the home had a second roof erected over the original roof and found that fire was still burning between the two. Firefighters were forced to remove portions of the roof to put the remaining fire out, delaying the investigation by detectives.

Officials say the fire appeared to have started in the kitchen, although heavy smoke affected the entire upstairs portion of the house.

One southbound lane of Newport Highway was closed during the investigation. Elm St. between Andrew and Newport Highway was closed during Thursday's investigation.

Anyone with information on what happened at the home Wednesday night or Thursday morning is asked to call the Spokane County Sheriff's Office at 242-TIPS.

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