Large search fails to recover body of murder suspect

Investigators believe the man is a suspect in the murder of an Anacortes elementary school teacher.

The Coast Guard, Homeland Security, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and local police agencies were unable to recover a body after receiving reports of a man headed toward Strawberry Island from Deception Pass, bobbing on the surface of the swirling waters Tuesday night.

Investigators believe that the man is a suspect in the stabbing death of an Anacortes elementary school teacher. He was not recovered as of noon on Friday.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue launched boats and coordinated command with Homeland Security and sheriffs’ departments, but called off the search after two hours of no evidence, said Battalion Chief Jobie Gause. Other agencies carried on the search into the next day.

Tuesday night, the Coast Guard released an urgent marine broadcast to local vessels for support and launched a cutter, a small boat from the Bellingham crew and a helicopter from Port Angeles to search the waters. Between all agencies, they tracked 185 miles searching, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier.

The Deception Pass area is tricky to navigate, Strohmaier said, so searchers relied on local agencies and are grateful for their support.

As reported by KIRO 7, the case is related to a search for a person of interest in his wife’s death. Police received a report Tuesday that a 41-year-old woman, school teacher Caitlin Follstad, was found stabbed to death in her Anacortes home. The suspect is the woman’s husband, 41-year-old Kevin Follstad, according to Anacortes police.

The suspect’s father called police after the body was found to report that his son was suicidal and headed toward Deception Pass Bridge, according to KIRO 7. A witness at the bridge reported seeing a body in the water soon afterward.

Washington State troopers found the 41-year-old man’s car on the center island of the bridge.

Anacortes police told KIRO 7 the woman’s children were safe and with family members.