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Chanin Starbuck murdered and tortured by ex-husband Clay Starbuck: Oxygen examines the case

Mugshot of Clay Starbuck
Clay Starbuck was found guilty of torturing and murdering the mother of his five children, Chanin Starbuck. Pic credit: Spokane County Sheriff’s Office

As part of their series Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, Oxygen is investigating the savage murder of a mother of five children, Chanin Starbuck, who was killed in her home in Deer Park, approximately 20 miles from Spokane, Washington, in 2011.

Chanin was brutally tortured and murdered at her home on December 1 that year. Her killer was deemed to be her ex-husband, Clay Starbuck, who became enraged when he fell behind with maintenance payments for their five children.

When officers performed a welfare check on Chanin Starbuck’s home, they were shocked to discover her naked and battered corpse tied to a bed.

There was evidence had Chanin had suffered a prolonged period of torture; there were up to 90 different wounds on her body, which included multiple bruises, broken ribs, and other bones and a blow to the head.

Injuries on her chest indicated she’d suffered numerous shocks from a stun gun. Finally, she was killed by strangulation, probably with a towel.

Her ex-husband Clay told the police that Chanin had been dating numerous men through online dating and that one of them was probably the perpetrator.

The police looked at two individuals that Chanin had dated around the time of her death, including one man who had even visited her home on the day of her death. However, both individuals were deemed not to be involved.

DNA evidence recovered from the crime scene revealed a partial match for Clay, their eldest son, and an unidentified male. However, only Clay didn’t have an alibi for the day of the murder.

Clay and Chanin Starbuck had been twice married

Clay and Chanin had been married and divorced twice. When their second marriage ended in July of that year, Chanin won sole custody of the three youngest children. The two elder kids were no longer classed as minors.

There was a restraining order put out on Clay, meaning he was forbidden to come near Chanin at her home or her place of work. Despite this, he still regularly drove the kids to school.

Clay owed Chanin nearly $10,000, and he had exchanged angry messages with his former wife shortly before she was killed.

In June 2013, Clay Starbuck was found guilty of premeditated first-degree murder, which came with an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. His eldest children still maintain his innocence.

More murders profiled on Oxygen

Follow the links to read about more crimes profiled on Oxygen.

Two teenage girls Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah, attacked and murdered their mother Nikki Whitehead at their home in Conyers, Georgia. Their mother’s body was left covered in blood, scratches, and bite marks. The teenage terrors tried to blame an unknown assailant.

Carmine Bruno was beaten to death with a baseball at his home in North Carolina. The killer wielding the bat was his lodger Dennis Roy, who had sprung into action when Carmine’s wife Mary Bruno had given him the nod.

A Cold December Morning airs at 7/8c on Oxygen.


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