SEQUIM — Police are investigating the death of a 57-year-old woman whose body was found Wednesday afternoon in her Sequim apartment.
A crime-tape barrier was laced Thursday on the outside of Sunbelt Apartments, 505 S. Fifth Ave., where the deceased woman, Valerie Claplanhoo, lived, while the Sequim Police Department and State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team proceeded with their investigation.
The apartment is part of a complex occupied by the chronically homeless and operated by Serenity House of Clallam County.
Mark Nichols, Clallam County prosecuting attorney-coroner, said Claplanhoo’s death was suspicious and was being investigated as a potential homicide, with the Sequim Police Department as the lead agency.
Nichols said an autopsy would be performed on Claplanhoo’s body Monday and that he hoped to have at least preliminary results on the cause of her death by the following Wednesday.
Nichols and Police Chief Sheri Crain would not discuss details of the discovery.
“Until we know the whys and hows, we’re not going to give details on how she was found,” Crain said Thursday morning.
Sequim police received a call at 1:41 p.m. Wednesday about the deceased woman being found in her apartment, Crain said this morning.
“We discovered it and we started our investigation from there,” she said.
Nichols volunteered the information that there was no indication that Claplanhoo’s death was related to the recent triple homicide of three shooting victims at 52 Bear Meadow Road off Deer Park Road east of Port Angeles.
The bodies of homeowner Darrell C. Iverson, 57; his son, Jordan D. Iverson, 27, and Tiffany A. May, 26, Jordan Iverson’s girlfriend, were found at the home Monday, New Year’s Eve.
Crain said the woman, whose 57th birthday was Sunday, did not die of a gunshot wound.
“We’re not able to clearly and quickly come to a conclusion on the cause of death,” Crain said.
“There are no clues that are telling us one thing over another.”
Serenity House operates Sunbelt Apartments, which are owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority.
Serenity House Executive Director Doc Robinson said nine occupants had to leave their apartments during the investigation into Claplanhoo’s death.
They had qualified as chronically homeless by being homeless for at least a year. Every resident is classified by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as 100 percent disabled with mental disabilities and physical ailments, Robinson said.
Robinson said they stayed in a hotel paid for by the police department Wednesday night and were going to remain there until their expected return tonight to the Sunbelt units.
“Most of them have significant emotional and/or chemical dependency issues currently or in the past,” Robinson said. “Some are physically disabled.”
Robinson said he did not know any details about the case and said Sequim police told his case manager at the apartments not to discuss Claplanhoo’s death with anybody.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Matthew Nash of the Olympic Peninsula News Group contributed to this story. Reach him at[email protected].