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News / Clark County News

Man in court in fatal stabbing of estranged wife in Vancouver

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: November 8, 2021, 1:05pm

A Vancouver woman stabbed to death Sunday had been denied a full protection order against her husband, despite her claims that he had physically and emotionally abused her and their young son.

Michael Ryan Murrah, 45, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree murder in her slaying. She is identified in court records as 45-year-old Monica Murrah. Court documents in the civil protection order case indicate she went by Star Murrah.

Judge Suzan Clark set Michael Murrah’s bail at $2 million and scheduled his arraignment for Nov. 19.

Vancouver police say the couple’s 8-year-old son was in the home at the time of the stabbing. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty told Clark that the child appears to understand what happened. Clark ordered that Michael Murrah have no contact with the child.

According to court records, Star Murrah was granted a temporary restraining order against her husband on July 8, 2020. She wrote about fearing for her and their son’s life, and she reported multiple incidents dating back to at least 2017.

But at an Aug. 4, 2020, hearing, Superior Court Commissioner Carin Schienberg denied Star Murrah’s request to reissue the protection order, citing insufficient grounds. When reached by phone Monday afternoon, Schienberg’s judicial assistant said the commissioner has no comment.

On Sunday, Vancouver police responded at 10:39 a.m. to the 2400 block of F Street in the Arnada neighborhood. A caller reported a man had stabbed his wife and left. When police arrived, they found Michael Murrah outside of the house with a knife and what appeared to be blood on his hands, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Officers arrested him and performed CPR on Star Murrah, court records state. She was taken to a hospital, where she died from her injuries.

When police interviewed Michael Murrah, he allegedly told them he stabbed someone he called “starbeast” in order to fulfill a prophecy. He later told them he and his wife were going through a divorce and that he drove to her house with a knife and a Bible. Police said he admitted to killing her in “cold blood” and stabbing her multiple times in the neck, the affidavit states.

Vancouver police had contacted the couple before. Officers were called for reports of a domestic violence assault in November 2017. They did not arrest anyone that day but gave both Star and Michael Murrah domestic violence information sheets, according to court records.

She called police again in July 2020 to report Michael Murrah had closed their joint bank accounts while she was visiting family in California with their son. She told officers about two other times he allegedly assaulted her, court records show. She also told police that domestic violence advocates recommended that she stay in California and obtain a protection order.

She filed for divorce Aug. 14, 2020, and court records show a trial was scheduled for Feb. 14.

A GoFundMe for the woman’s family had raised more than $6,800 by Monday afternoon.

“Due to this sudden tragedy, our family needs help with bringing Star home to California and giving her the proper burial she deserves,” the fundraising page reads. To donate, visit https://bit.ly/31Ja3Df.