SPOKANE — A registered sex offender is a “person of interest” in the death of a 17-year-old Spokane girl found last month in Yakima County, according to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.
Juan Carlos Sandoval was arrested on unrelated charges two days after Samantha Kalinchuk’s body was found April 30 outside Mabton.
A property owner on the 600 block of Farm Lane near Mabton told authorities April 30 he smelled something foul on his property and then located a body, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
An autopsy determined Kalinchuk died from a gunshot wound to the head, the sheriff’s office said. Detectives are investigating the death as a homicide.
The sheriff’s office interviewed Sandoval about Kalinchuk’s death after he was arrested May 2, said Casey Schilperoort, public information officer at the sheriff’s office. Schilperoort said Sandoval spoke for a little while before asking for an attorney.
Schilperoort said Sandoval’s sex offender registration address indicated he was living in Spokane.
Sandoval is jailed on warrants, including one that carries a $1 million bond, according to the Yakima County Jail roster. He also faces attempt to elude, unlawful possession of a firearm, robbery and assault charges. He remained in jail Saturday.
Schilperoort said the sheriff’s office is trying to determine if the gun Sandoval had on him when he was arrested was used to shoot Kalinchuk.
Meanwhile, Shawna Fromang said she met Kalinchuk last year and allowed her to stay at her home from August to December because she was homeless and she wanted to protect her.
She said Kalinchuk had a great personality, was fun to be around and was “very tomboyish.”
“She was the sweetest little girl,” Fromang said.
She said she was told Kalinchuk was Sandoval’s niece, but Fromang thought something was “off.”
Fromang said Kalinchuk told her she met Sandoval by asking him for a cigarette on the side of the street. At some point, Sandoval bought Kalinchuk a car and then took it away from her, Fromang said.
Fromang said she learned Sandoval was a sex offender and notified police in September that Sandoval was with a minor.
Fromang said Kalinchuk returned to Crosswalk, a youth shelter in downtown Spokane, in December. Shortly after, Kalinchuk made contact with Sandoval again, and he took her to the Yakima area.
“I thought I saved her from him,” Fromang said.
She said she stayed in contact with Kalinchuk while she was in the Yakima area. Fromang said Kalinchuk was trying to get help to leave Sandoval.
Fromang said Kalinchuk sent her personal locations on her phone, and that one of the locations was 3 miles away from where Kalinchuk’s body was found.
Fromang said Kalinchuk also sent messages to her saying Sandoval was getting more violent each day.
Fromang said she forwarded the messages and locations to law enforcement so authorities could find her. The last contact she had with Kalinchuk was a voicemail from the girl on Jan. 3, “and then it went cold,” Fromang said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (509) 574-2500 or (800) 572-0490. Tips, including anonymous ones, can be called into Crime Stoppers of Yakima County at (509) 248-9980 or (800) 248-9980.