Unsolved cases include murder, disappearances

  • By Paul Gottlieb Special to Peninsula Daily News
  • Wednesday, May 3, 2023 1:30am
  • NewsClallam County
Matthew Dean

Matthew Dean

By Paul Gottlieb

Special to the Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA — Authorities intend to request help for two North Olympic Peninsula cases: Makah artist George Cecil David’s 2019 murder in Port Angeles and the 2020 disappearance of Makah tribal member Matthew Dean.

Three other cases of missing and murdered indigenous people on the Peninsula remain unsolved:

• Valerie Claplanhoo: Sequim police continue to investigate the 4-year-old case involving the murder of Makah tribal member Valerie Claplanhoo, 57, found dead Jan. 2, 2019, in her apartment at Sunbelt Apartments in Sequim, Detective Sgt. Darrell Nelson told the Sequim Gazette in late 2022, according to a Jan. 25 story.

Sequim Police Chief Sheri Crain told Peninsula Daily News Jan. 1, 2021, that the department had potential suspects in the case.

Claplanhoo’s sister, Cindy Lee Claplanhoo, said she has been told by the department that the are “three or four suspects” in the case. “They are matching the DNA to see if they were going to get anywhere,” she said.

“I sure do miss her,” Claplanhoo said.

Crain would not discuss the status of the case this week.

She said police department personnel have been attending the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee meetings of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force.

“Although this case is not by definition ‘cold’ because it continues to be actively worked on, we are open to working with the [MMIWP] Cold Case Investigations Assistance Unit once created to the extent they are able to, taking into account it is dependent upon funding of the unit and the large number of cases they will likely be evaluating and investigating once formed,” she said Monday in an email.

John Hillman, division chief of the state Attorney General’s Office’s Criminal Justice Division, said he expects to hire cold case unit investigators by this fall.

• Bryce Herda: Herda was 6 when he went missing in 1995, according to the Polly Klaas Foundation (pollyklass.org). An officer with Makah Tribal Police did not return calls for comment on the case.

He was last seen hiking on the Makah reservation, according to the website, which has his photo and an age-progressed picture of how he would look at 19.

• Gwenny Gloria: Gloria, a Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member, was 12 when she went missing in 1970 or 1971, Chairwoman Frances Charles said. Lower Elwha Police Chief Sam White said he may seek help from the cold case unit in attempting to find out what happened to her.


Legislative Reporter Paul Gottlieb, a former senior reporter at Peninsula Daily News, can be reached at cpaulgottlieb@gmail.com.

George Cecil David

George Cecil David

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