Arrest made in death where body was found near Schafer State Park.

On June 11, 2024, at approximately 7:35 AM, deputies from the Mason County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a decomposing body found in a remote wooded area near Schafer State Park in Elma. The body, identified as an adult female, appeared to have been at the location for at least a couple of weeks. Deputies and detectives processed the scene and collected various items of evidence.


The Mason County Coroner’s Office was able to positively identify the female as being Joanna Ruth Saunders, a twenty-nine-year-old from Spokane with recent involvements within the Shelton homeless community.

On 6/22/2024, an alert and concerned citizen contacted MCSO to report finding a woman’s clothing and personal effects dumped in a remote wooded area near Johns Prairie in Shelton, over twenty miles from where Saunders’ body had been located. Upon the Deputies arriving, paperwork was discovered within the items that connected them to Saunders. Detectives responded and processed the area as a crime scene and collected items of evidence.

In the weeks since the initial discovery of Saunders’s body, Detectives have worked numerous leads in attempts to determine when and how she died. They were successful in recovering video evidence and have spoken with numerous persons who assisted in providing information about Saunders and who she may have been with in the days leading up to her death.

On 7/3/2024, Detectives arrested an adult male who has been booked into the Mason County Jail for Manslaughter 2 regarding Saunders’s death. At this time, there is no reason to believe anyone else is responsible for Saunders’ death and there is no current risk to the public.


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