Police continue investigation into Cape George stabbing

Posted 10/9/19

Four months in, Jefferson County detectives are still in the midst of investigating the stabbing death of a 29-year-old man in Cape George.

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Police continue investigation into Cape George stabbing

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Four months in, Jefferson County detectives are still in the midst of investigating the stabbing death of a 29-year-old man in Cape George.

No charges were filed during a June 10 arraignment for 23-year-old Celinda Kaitlin Marie LaDue, who was accused of stabbing her boyfriend John Rowland to death June 5.

At her arraignment on June 10, prosecuting attorney Chris Ashcraft said the state was not going to file any charges yet, relieving her of all conditions Harper had placed on her prior to her release after her arrest on the night Rowland died.

“Our goal is to have the investigation be absolutely complete and then continue with any possible charges,” Ashcraft said in an interview after the hearing, explaining why the state is in no hurry. “The statute of limitations is long on this case. The sheriff’s office is working really hard on this investigation.”

Since then, detectives Shane Stevenson and Derek Allen with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office have been on the case, interviewing witnesses and obtaining search warrants to learn more about what happened the night LaDue stabbed Rowland in an alcohol-fueled fight.

“I have one more piece of evidence I’m waiting for,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson said the investigation might need another month or so to complete.

“It’s a tremendous amount of data,” he said. “It’s going to take a few weeks to a month to go through it all … It is information that is fixed. It’s from a while back and will give us a better understanding of what was going on and what happened.”

LaDue was initially arrested for second-degree manslaughter.

After the investigation is complete, the investigators will present all the material to the Jefferson County prosecutor’s office, which will decide whether to charge LaDue or not.

This could happen sometime in November, detective Derek Allen said, but it is unpredictable when exactly the investigation will be complete.

“We found probable cause that night to arrest her,” Allen said. “But our job is to go beyond that and get as close to reasonable doubt as we can.”

The night of June 5, LaDue had called for an ambulance at 10:18 p.m., telling dispatchers she had stabbed Rowland in the stomach and was holding pressure on the wound.

Rowland was face-down on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood at 10:25 p.m. when the first Jefferson County deputy arrived at the Johnson Avenue home the couple shared, according to documents submitted at the initial hearing. A knife presumed to be the weapon used on Rowland was found under his body.

Medics soon arrived and by 10:46 p.m. had declared him dead at the scene.

The couple had been drinking at a neighbor’s home before returning to their house. During an emotional conversation about his past, Rowland attacked her on their porch, LaDue told Jefferson County Detective Shane Stevenson.

Stevenson said she told him she retreated to the kitchen after a first tussle, grabbed a steak knife from a butcher block and, when Rowland advanced again, stabbed him.

“This is horrible. He is a good person and he has a good heart, and he’s dead,” Stevenson quoted her in his report.

Investigators found evidence on the porch and in the house consistent with the fight she described, but no visible marks or injuries on LaDue, Stevenson said.

An hour and a half after her call to 911, LaDue’s blood alcohol concentration was measured at .126, about 50 percent above the legal limit for drivers in Washington.

Community members and family held a memorial service for Rowland on June 30. He was known around town for his work at the Old Whiskey Mill and Sirens Pub.

Rowland has two brothers in Port Townsend. His father lives in Pierce County, according to Allen. Rowland had three sons with a previous girlfriend.

Melanie Rowland, a relative, set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money for Rowland’s sons and the memorial service.

“In memory of Johnny, and in support of his family this Go Fund Me page has been created,” Melanie Rowland wrote. “All proceeds will go directly to the Celebration of Life for Johnny and more importantly to his three boys. He leaves behind the twins Roman and Leo, 8, and his youngest son Daniel, 4.”

The fundraiser has $1,985 raised of its $3,000 goal.

The Leader reached out to LaDue’s mother, who would not provide any comment.

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