Homeowner in Washougal standoff was described as delusional, volatile

1994 Idaho report says he was seriously mentally ill

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Officials 17 years ago described Steven D. Stanbary as a ticking time bomb.

Diagnosed with delusional schizophrenia, Stanbary “felt the end of the world was coming and wanted to stockpile weapons for that eventuality,” according to police reports detailing his arrest in 1994.

A psychiatrist who treated him felt “if anyone examined Stanbary, they would find he was in worse shape than he was in 1988,” according to a Bonner County, Idaho sheriff’s detective’s report. Asked if it was possible he could commit suicide or kill someone else, the psychiatrist said, “it was a very reasonable deduction.”

More details have emerged about the 47-year-old Washougal homeowner whose home went up in flames Wednesday morning, fol

lowed by rapid gunfire for 90 minutes. Two unidentified bodies have been recovered, but so far names have not been released.

The 1994 sheriff’s report painted a macabre picture of Stanbary, while neighbors and relatives described him as amiable and quiet. He has a landscaping business and did yard work for neighbors.

“My uncle, as far as I knew, was a good person,” said Sarah Carpenter, Stanbary’s niece who lives in Montana. “He loved helping people.”

Carpenter said she knew minimal information about her uncle’s 1994 arrest, but said he used to like collecting firearms as a hobby.

“I bet he started collecting guns again,” said Carpenter, who hasn’t talked to Stanbary in two years.

Carpenter knew nothing about his mental illness, but said she knew he had health trouble and was, perhaps, depressed.

In police reports, deputies in Bonner County, Idaho described Stanbary as disliking police, idolizing anti-government stalwart and white separatist Randy Weaver and believing Christmas was a satanic holiday.

Stanbary was arrested on Dec. 29, 1994, after sheriff’s deputies confiscated six AK-47s and more than 20 other rifles, three handguns, several shotguns — including one that was sawed off — a flak jacket, a grenade launcher, gas masks and thousands of rounds of ammunition. He had threatened to kill his ex-wife, children and himself, reports indicate.

Witnesses, including Stanbary’s ex-wife, told police “Stanbary believed Randy Weaver was right and he would do the same thing, meaning shoot it out with police,” according to police reports.

As deputies continued to investigate Stanbary, they consulted his psychiatrist. She told them that once Stanbary “gets a delusion, there is no talking him out of it,” the report said. The psychiatrist told deputies that Stanbary wouldn’t take medication for schizophrenia and had stopped therapy altogether.

The psychiatrist had recommended that Stanbary be committed to a mental health facility, but he refused, according to police reports.

She said “that if he is talking about satanic things, there was a good possibility the children were in big trouble,” the reports said. In the 1994 investigation, his children were safely removed from his home.

His criminal history followed him into Clark County. Initially charged with fourth-degree assault domestic violence in 2001, he pleaded guilty in Camas-Washougal Municipal Court to disorderly conduct and received three months in jail. Details of that crime are not available; reports were destroyed because of age.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.