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Coroner IDs murder victim found buried in old barn

Sheriff's office: Body found inside barn at Old Naches Hwy (KIMA-TV News photo)

YAKIMA, Wash. - The body of a murder victim found buried in an old barn outside Yakima back in June has now been identified as a man who was reported missing last year.

Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins confirmed Julian Wabinga, 46, was found buried inside the barn on the property at 523 Old Naches Highway. Wabinga, who had been living in the area, was reported missing in summer 2017.

Wabinga died from a gunshot wound to his head, the coroner said. An earlier autopsy also found that he had been shot in the left leg above the knee.

Deputies said a man, Randy Shea Gardner, claimed to find the body while digging in the barn and gave them the name of someone he believed committed the murder.

But an investigation found evidence showing that Gardner himself may actually have been the person responsible for Wabinga's death, sheriff's officials said.

Gardner has since been arrested as a suspect in this case and in Yakima County Jail awaiting trial.

The coroner suspected the victim was likely dead for at least four months at the time his body was discovered.

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