Police in Washington state investigating former Cape woman's fatal shooting

Sunday, July 10, 2011
Kriston Peterman-Dunya

Kriston Anne Peterman-Dunya's life revolved around books and her 7-year-old son.

The former Cape Girardeau resident penned four novels with her father and worked for 15 years at bookseller Barnes & Noble.

On Saturday, Peterman-Dunya's mother and brother were headed to the Seattle suburb of Bellingham, Wash., to claim her body as police continued to investigate the 32-year-old woman's homicide.

Peterman-Dunya died of a single gunshot wound to the chest sometime late July 3, according to Dunya's father, author Gene Peterman of Jackson, who taught in the Cape Girardeau School District for 22 years. Her body was found Tuesday by a Barnes & Noble co-worker after Peterman-Dunya failed to show up for work and did not return several phone calls.

Police have arrested Kara J. Buchanan, 40, of Whidbey Island, Wash., in connection with the homicide, following a confession and an attempted suicide, according to the Bellingham Herald. The newspaper reported Friday that Bellingham detectives were on their way to Buchanan's home on Thursday when they got a voice-mail message from the woman confessing to murder.

"She said that by the time they heard the message, she'd be dead," the newspaper reported.

Bellingham police could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Authorities found Buchanan on a beach in Langley, Wash., a few miles away, bleeding badly from cuts to her wrist, the Herald reported. She was airlifted to a Seattle hospital for surgery. Her injuries were serious but not life-threatening, a hospital spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Bellingham police officers were guarding Buchanan at Harborview Medical Center, and she'll be taken to Whatcom County Jail as soon as she is released by doctors, a detective told the Herald.

Kriston Peterman-Dunya, a Jackson High School graduate, is being remembered as a talented writer, a lover of literature and a loving mother of her son, Kai.

"To me she was special, not only as a daughter but we were a writing team," Gene Peterman said Saturday. "We giggled and we laughed and we struggled and complained for a number of years, but you know ... ."

The father and daughter wrote the novels "My Eyes are Red," "Afternoon Moon," "Tyro" and "Into the Void" and completed three collections of short stories in a series they called the Western Heart Series: "Marrying Tree Stories," "Crossing Niobrara" and "Woman's Creek."

"Writing together during the process, editing, and research a special bond developed between this father-daughter team," Peterman wrote in a letter to the Southeast Missourian. "Kriston and our family talked on the telephone almost every weekend for an hour or more. Our family is in shock over this."

The writing partnership ended, Peterman said, when his daughter and son-in-law, Keayn Dunya, declared bankruptcy and then separated. The couple was finalizing their divorce when Peterman-Dunya was killed.

Peterman-Dunya's mother, Wilda Peterman, and her brother, Eric Peterman, are making arrangements and meeting with police. Peterman said his daughter will be cremated and her remains buried back home.

mkittle@semissourian.com

388-3627

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