TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington state man was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday after the body of his pregnant ex-girlfriend was found in a wooded ravine nearly a month after she vanished.
Colin Patrick Dudley, 37, of Tacoma, is accused of killing Kassanndra Cantrell, 33, of Parkland. He is being held without bond in the Pierce County Jail.
“Either she’d made plans to meet someone or somebody emailed her to meet them, but it would have had to be someone she knew,” Marie Smith wrote. “She had zero phone and text activity leading up to her disappearance, which means it wasn’t a spontaneous contact that way.”
KIRO in Seattle reported that she failed to meet her best friend the next day for an appointment to see the first sonogram of her unborn child.
Cantrell, who has a twin brother, was eager to see if she, like her mother, was carrying twins, her family told the news station. She was in the early stages of her first pregnancy.
“Her disappearance was out of character and was very concerning for her loved ones,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department officials said.
Cantrell’s mother, Marie Smith, told People magazine she immediately knew something was wrong when her daughter did not come home.
“What I hope is, worst-case scenario, that maybe she was carjacked and she’s just hurt somewhere,” Smith told KIRO.
The day after Cantrell was reported missing, her white Mazda 3 sedan, which had a unique Mickey Mouse hood ornament, was found abandoned near the Tacoma Dome in the city of Tacoma. There was no sign of the missing woman.
“I told police, ‘There is no reason for her to ever be in that area,’” Smith told People.
See the discovery of Kassanndra Cantrell’s abandoned car below, courtesy of South Sound Media Production.
“The unoccupied vehicle was found parked along 25th Street East near the I-705 overpass,” Sheriff’s Department officials said that day. “Detectives are working throughout the day to search for Kassanndra, and are asking all businesses in the area where her vehicle was found to please check their surveillance cameras for any images of her or her car.”
Over the next four weeks, Pierce County homicide detectives worked the case nonstop, conducting multiple ground searches and executing multiple search warrants, authorities said. Meanwhile, Cantrell’s family kept hoping and praying for a miracle.
“I still call her. So does her brother,” an emotional Smith told KIRO. “We call her phone, just to see. It (is) shut off.”
She recalled the last time she’d spoken to her daughter.
“I had accidentally woke her up,” Smith said. “And she told me to have a good day at work. And we did our funny voices. She’s, like, ‘Love you.’ And I’m, like, ‘Love you.’ And that was it.”
Dudley became a suspect after investigators located “multiple sources of surveillance video showing a person of interest walking from Kassanndra Cantrell’s abandoned vehicle to a nearby parking garage,” Pierce County officials said. “The person of interest was seen leaving the parking garage in a truck and our detectives were able to obtain a license plate of the truck.”
The truck belonged to Dudley.
On Sept. 1, detectives, a SWAT team, county crime scene technicians and FBI agents descended on Dudley’s home, where they used flash bang noise grenades to announce their entrance, KIRO reported.
“The first bang I thought was a car,” neighbor Ron James said of the raid. “The second bang, I heard people trying to tell him to come out of the residence.”
Investigators seized Dudley’s truck as evidence, according to authorities. GPS data from the vehicle led investigators to an area along Chambers Creek Road in University Place, about 12 miles from Parkland.
A detailed ground search of the area produced a gruesome discovery.
“At approximately 2 p.m., our detectives found a set of human remains that were wrapped and disposed of over a steep hillside along Chambers Creek,” Sheriff’s Department officials said. “Search and rescue team members from our department and the Tacoma Police Department performed a high-angle ropes operation to recover the remains, which are believed to be Kassanndra Cantrell.”
Official identification of the remains will come from the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Angela Cantrell, Kassanndra Cantrell’s sister-in-law, addressed the discovery on a GoFundMe page initially set up to fund the family’s search.
“Kassanndra has been found, but not the way we had hoped,” Angela Cantrell wrote.
The funds raised by the page will instead be used to help give the expectant mother a proper burial and memorial service, she said.
Shortly after the body was found, SWAT team members arrested Dudley outside his home in Tacoma. Dudley lives about 10 miles from where the remains were discovered.
Smith told People that when Cantrell broke up with Dudley, she called him a “jerk.”
“I mean, he said some weird stuff,” Smith told the magazine. “He apparently said that if (a) girl ever told him he got her pregnant, he’d steal the baby and raise it to hate women.”
In recent years, Cantrell and Dudley had settled into a friendship, Smith told KIRO.
“I wouldn’t have suspected him if he wasn’t the father,” Smith said. “But he has a girlfriend, so I don’t know what that might, you know, what that might have triggered.”
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