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Man scrutinized over wife's killing

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By Rikki King
Herald Writer
BOTHELL -- Police discovered traces of blood inside a Bothell man's car after his estranged wife was found slain in February.
Susann Smith, 37, was bludgeoned and stabbed to death inside her home.
Police have not named her husband as a suspect. However, multiple search warrants filed in the case make clear that investigators are scrutinizing the man's actions around the time of her death.
Forensic tests conducted after Smith's body was found showed blood residue on the steering wheel of her husband's car, the center console and a floor mat, according to investigative documents obtained by The Herald. Traces of blood also were found on his backpack.
Police believe the man started buying plastic coveralls and shoe-covers months before the killing. He bought more the day her body was found. A pattern from the same brand of coveralls reportedly matched a pattern left in blood at the scene.
They also found plastic gloves in his car.
The investigation is ongoing, Bothell police Capt. Denise Langford said last week. No arrests have been made.
The Herald is not naming the husband because he has not been arrested or charged.
Court papers show that detectives have been collecting and seeking potential evidence in the case. Much of their efforts are focused on the husband's vehicle, apartment, workplace and his personal electronics.
They're investigating Smith's death as a potential first-degree murder, court papers show.
Detectives aren't sure yet what weapon or weapons were used to kill Smith, court papers show. They found documentation showing the husband bought a rubber mallet at the same time as some of the plastic coveralls. That mallet hasn't been recovered.
Police earlier this month obtained a judge's permission to search Smith's home computer system and router to see if the husband's phone accessed the Internet there around the time of her death.
The results of that search have not been made public.
Detectives also are waiting on forensic analysis of the husband's cellphones, flash drives, computers and other items, in addition to banking and financial records.
Forensic tests on laptops and smartphones require special expertise, take time and must happen in controlled environments, detectives wrote in the search warrants.
Smith's children, 3 and 6, were placed in protective custody after her body was found Feb. 12. Details about their care are not available because of privacy laws.
Police say evidence they've already recovered showed the husband began looking for plane tickets out of the country for himself and his children before he was notified of his wife's death. After Child Protective Services became involved, he started looking for solo tickets.
Court records show the two were going through an ugly divorce and in a dispute about custody of the children. They lived separately. Police have conducted extensive searches at both of their homes.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449;
Story tags » BothellCrimePoliceHomicide

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