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Press Release

Donavan Thomas Culps Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Federal Prison for Second Degree Murder Which Occurred Within the Boundaries of the Yakama Nation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington
Harrah Man Sentenced in Federal Court

Spokane – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Donavan Thomas Culps, age 39, of Harrah, Washington, and an enrolled member of the Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakama Nation, was sentenced today after having pleaded guilty on February 18, 2020, to second degree murder. Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian sentenced Culps to a life term of imprisonment.

According to information disclosed during court proceedings, in late March 2016, F.M. was murdered in her residence, which was located within the boundaries of the Yakama Nation. Culps learned that George Cloud and N.C. had allegedly murdered F.M. In late June 2017, N.C. traveled to Culps’ residence in Harrah, Washington. When N.C. arrived, Culps pulled N.C. out of a vehicle and began beating him with his fists. During the assault, N. C. yelled “why?” Culps responded, “You know why!” N.C. lost consciousness. Culps and an accomplice then dragged N.C. behind a trailer and attempted to place zip ties on him. N.C. regained consciousness, whereupon Culps took out a hunting knife and stabbed N.C. in the chest, neck, and stomach. Culps ultimately slit N.C.’s throat.

After the murder, Culps wrapped up the victim’s body, transported it to another location, and dumped the body. Culps then fled from the area. In August 2017, a concerned citizen reported that N.C. was missing.

In September 2017, Culps was involved in an unrelated murder in Cheney, Washington. Culps fled and was eventually apprehended by the Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force. Culps admitted to the murder in Cheney, Washington. He pled guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 416 months in state custody.

Culps also admitted to homicide investigators that he murdered N.C. and told them where they would find N.C.’s body. On September 18, 2017, when homicide investigators searched that area, they found N.C.’s remains.

During the sentencing hearing, Chief Judge Bastian observed that Culps has a “history of violence” and described the crime he committed as an “execution.”

United States Attorney Hyslop said, “Murder, the killing of another person as occurred here, justifies the life sentence imposed by the Court. He won’t be returning to the streets of the Yakama Nation. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington commends the law enforcement officers with the Yakama Nation Police Department, the Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who all worked together to solve this heinous crime. Their seamless partnership resulted in the successful investigation and prosecution of Culps. Others who may choose to engage in similar violent criminal activity in the future should know from this case that law enforcement will find you, we will prosecute you, and if proven guilty, you will be going to jail for a very long time.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda said, “Mr. Culps is a lifelong offender responsible for murders of multiple individuals. Together with our partners, the FBI will continue to investigate violent criminals and pursue justice on behalf of the citizens of the Yakama Nation and Washington state.”

Federal charges were also filed against George Cloud arising from the murder of F.M. On January 17, 2019, a federal jury found George Cloud guilty of First Degree Murder and Discharge of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence. On May 1, 2019, Chief Judge Bastian sentenced George Cloud to a term of life imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Yakima Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Yakama Nation Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Tom Hanlon, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

Updated October 29, 2020

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 1:18-CR-02023-SAB-1