For Marie Smith, the conclusion that her daughterhad been lacking for greater than two days was virtually greater than she may take.
Marie Smith: I known as all people … anyone I may consider, and no one had heard from her. … I used to be … hoping that she may be alive someplace (emotional).
Marie Smith: I by no means thought … that I would be the individual sitting right here … speaking about my daughter. … I needed her discovered.
Kristi Sinclair: I do not even know learn how to clarify how wrenching it’s.
Smith’s shut pal, Kristi Sinclair, says it was agony.
Kristi Sinclair: This cannot be occurring. This is not actual. … she misplaced her cellphone. She misplaced her automobile. She had no cash. … I do not know. … Something however what you do not need to take into consideration, something however that (emotional).
As Kassanndra’s household and mates grappled together with her disappearance, police started working. Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Franz Helmcke was assigned to the case. His first step was to speak to those that knew Kassanndra greatest.
Natalie Morales: How did Marie describe Kassanndra?
Det. Franz Helmcke: Regular.
Natalie Morales: Accountable.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Yeah. Accountable. She would name and let her know the place she was going.
Detective Helmcke discovered Kassanndra was shut together with her household and good about staying in contact. She loved making YouTube procuring movies and beloved being on stage. She’d even as soon as joined a neighborhood manufacturing of the “Rocky Horror Image Present,” the place individuals act alongside the film. Smith says it was an ideal match for her daughter.
Marie Smith: She was with a bunch of people that have been … a bit of wacky like her.
Cheri Mueller: She was good. … She was simply lovable.
Cheri Mueller, the present’s producer, recollects Kassanndra’s pure expertise.
Cheri Mueller: She was enjoying a personality by the title of Janet Weiss … She additionally discovered the character of … Columbia.
By all accounts, on the time of her disappearance, Kassanndra was a cheerful 33-year-old, and never somebody who would run off.
Det. Franz Helmcke: This wasn’t the — the standard … lacking individual that was going to return house in a — in a few days.
Detective Helmcke canvassed the world round the place Marie and Kassanndra lived and located, on a neighbor’s safety digicam, a clip of Kassanndra’s white Mazda on the morning of August 25. It was seen leaving the neighborhood.
Natalie Morales: Did you see any video of the automobile coming again?
Det. Franz Helmcke: No.
Because the hours ticked by with no signal of Kassanndra, her household and mates tried to stay hopeful. It was significantly troublesome for Kassanndra’s twin brother, Rob. Rising up, the 2 have been inseparable and would keep up late at evening to observe scary films.
Natalie Morales: She was by no means fearful of that stuff?
Rob Cantrell: No.
Natalie Morales: No? Wow. She’s robust —
Rob Cantrell: We laughed at most of it.
Natalie Morales: OK. She’s a troublesome lady, then.
Rob Cantrell: Yeah.
As they obtained older, their shared ardour for films developed into amassing memorabilia. They even dreamed of opening their very own collectibles store.
However as shut as they have been, Rob could not think about the place his sister went, and he was full of regret about their final dialog.
Rob Cantrell: We have been having an argument … she needed to truly come over on the twenty fifth … however I ignored her.
The twenty fifth of August 2020 – the day Kassanndra went lacking.
Natalie Morales: That is an enormous remorse I think about nonetheless for you.
Rob Cantrell: Yeah, as a result of then she most likely would have informed me what she was doing that day. And I might have … at the very least identified … the place she had gone.
Kassanndra’s household and mates organized searches.
Natalie Morales: I am unable to think about what that should really feel prefer to be on the market looking out and — and figuring out what you can probably be in search of.
Kristi Sinclair: You place it within the again — you do not take into consideration that. … simply assist me discover a clue, assist me discover a clue.
After which, three days after Kassanndra vanished, police discovered her white Mazda unlocked with the keys nonetheless inside.
Det. Franz Helmcke: It was … virtually beneath Interstate 705 … which … goes into the guts of the downtown Tacoma.
It is an industrial space the place teams of homeless individuals typically camp.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Her automobile’s within the space. … did one thing occur down right here?
Natalie Morales: Unusual place for a younger lady to park a automobile then —
Det. Franz Helmcke: Yeah.
Natalie Morales: — after which go lacking.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Yeah.
Natalie Morales: Are alarm bells going off, then?
Det. Franz Helmcke: Yeah, yeah. More and more.
Marie Smith: She had clearly gotten able to go someplace. … The place did — the place did she go? Who did she go to see?
Detective Helmcke had ordered an emergency hint on Kassanndra’s cellphone to attempt to discover her final identified location. And he found her cellphone final pinged about 2 miles south of a tower on Vashon Island within the Puget Sound.
Det. Franz Helmcke: One of many first issues I did was simply get on Google Earth and strike an arc from that tower to see the place — the place it lands. … and it — it confirmed as touchdown … round this shoreline at Owen Seaside or Level Defiance Park.
Natalie Morales (at Owen Seaside): And once you’re … seeing this enormous physique of water, you pondering, “we’re simply by no means gonna have the ability to discover this”?
Det. Franz Helmcke: Yeah.
A SECRET REVEALED
Investigators chasing that final ping from Kassanndra’s cellphone knew it was someplace within the huge waters of the Puget Sound which is almost 100 miles lengthy.
Natalie Morales: What is the subsequent step about making an attempt to get better that?
Det. Franz Helmcke: We debated about that as a result of … it is a needle in a haystack … it is a … enormous physique of water.
However Detective Helmcke had a place to begin. He knew somebody seemingly had tossed the cellphone into the water from Owen Seaside. Discovering it was a longshot, however Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke was up for the problem. He introduced the Pierce County Metro Dive Workforce out to the seashore on a summer season day.
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: We obtained fortunate with the tides that day. The tide was extraordinarily low, so it made our search space rather less.
Van Dyke had a plan to dramatically cut back the world the place the cellphone may be. First, he requested members of his staff to throw stones from the seashore to simulate how far somebody may throw a cellphone.
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: Should you image throwing one thing from right here, it limits the gap that I must seek for what you threw.
The dive staff then fashioned a line, primarily creating an underwater dragnet.
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: We had a ship out within the water and … a line of individuals on snorkel that day, simply wanting down.
They have been informed that Kassanndra’s cellphone had a case adorned with glitter. The dive staff was within the water for little greater than an hour when extremely …
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: One of many guys on the road mentioned, “Hey, I feel I obtained it.” They noticed a sparkle. … “I feel I obtained the cellphone” and it was the cellphone.
The cellphone was despatched to a specialist to find out if any data might be recovered. The hunt to seek out Kassanndra was intensifying as detectives discovered extra about her.
Natalie Morales: She felt like she may … inform you just about every thing about what was occurring in her life, proper?
Alexandra McNary: (Laughs) Sure.
Natalie Morales: Even her deepest, darkest secrets and techniques, she would inform you first.
Alexandra McNary: Yup.
And a month earlier than she disappeared, Kassanndra confided a secret to her greatest pal.
Alexandra McNary: She texted me a optimistic being pregnant check and mentioned, “I feel I may be preggers.”
And the day she was supposed to satisfy McNary, however by no means confirmed up? It was going to be her first ultrasound. For Det. Franz Helmcke, studying Kassanndra had been pregnant on the time of her disappearance modified every thing.
Det. Franz Helmcke: That is what’s now piquing my — my curiosity.
Natalie Morales: Usually in a scenario the place a pregnant lady disappears … you have a look at who the accomplice is first.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Appropriate.
Kassanndra had additionally informed her mom she was pregnant however did not present particulars.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I ask Marie … “did she inform you who the daddy was?” … and she or he says, effectively, it was some man … she met on-line or by means of a courting app.
Marie Smith: She informed me … it was not someone that she was really seeing. … and that he did not even stay within the space.
It was no secret Kassanndra was actively courting, utilizing apps like Tinder. And Smith informed detectives about an outdated boyfriend Kassanndra was nonetheless in contact with, Colin Dudley. The 2 had dated again in 2006 whereas within the Rocky Horror appearing group. The present’s producer, Cheri Mueller.
Cheri Mueller: Colin performed a personality known as the Criminologist on stage. Outdoors of the stage, when he wasn’t performing, he was the top of tech. And he sort of ran the forged.
However after courting for a number of months, Dudley and Kassanndra broke up. Colin began a relationship with one other forged member, Rebecca, and the 2 ultimately moved in collectively. Steve Ammann frolicked at their house usually to play a recreation known as Dungeons & Dragons.
Natalie Morales: Clarify what Dungeons & Dragons is … it isn’t a board recreation, proper?
Steve Ammann: No, not a conventional board recreation. Uh, it is extra of a theater of the mind-type gameplay. … doing issues that you simply would not usually do in actual life … position play a wizard, a rogue, a fighter.
The sport at all times befell in Dudley’s basement.
Steve Ammann: Colin was sort of the Dungeon Grasp of it. The one who ran the present.
And Ammann favored being round him. Dudley was fast to assist if somebody wanted cash, he says, and he nonetheless remembers the meals Colin cooked for recreation nights.
Steve Ammann: He was a chef by occupation, so it was good meals.
In 2014, after Dudley’s father died, he rekindled a friendship with Kassanndra.
Marie Smith: She assured me … you recognize, that she was simply there to be a pal. … She’s like … “He is obtained a girlfriend.”
In response to Smith, Kassanndra and Dudley would generally watch films or seize a chew to eat. Sooner or later, McNary says, though Colin was residing with Rebecca, his relationship with Kassanndra as soon as once more turned romantic.
And Kassanndra informed McNary that Colin Dudley was the daddy of her child.
Alexandra McNary: She was very excited. She talked about, you recognize, names and video games she needed on the child bathe … She — she had an Amazon registry already made.
Kassanndra’s solely hesitation: whether or not she ought to inform Dudley. He was with Rebecca and had talked about he did not need to have youngsters. However McNary says Kassanndra did inform Colin she was pregnant, and he was effective with it.
Alexandra McNary: She known as me … and she or he mentioned, “Effectively, I informed him.” … and “it went higher than anticipated.” … He was calm and mentioned to not fear about it, and that they might discuss.
Detective Helmcke questioned if Dudley knew the place Kassanndra was.
DET. FRANZ HELMCKE: We’re simply making an attempt to comply with up with individuals who knew Kassanndra, you recognize … locations she likes to go that we may possibly look.
Colin Dudley sat and talked with Detective Helmcke on his entrance porch – and the dialog was recorded.
DET. FRANZ HELMCKE: This can be a recorded assertion … we’re going to be taking from Colin Patrick Dudley.
Det. Franz Helmcke: So, you recognize, we simply sort of start with simply easy, hey, inform us about … you and Kassanndra. … “How did you meet?”
COLIN DUDLEY: I met her at “The Rocky Horror Image Present” … we have been in a relationship for a few months after which we broke up in 2006.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I then began sort of operating a few of these issues by him that — that individuals have been telling me.
DET. FRANZ HELMCKE: Speaking to different individuals, speaking to Kassanndra’s household and a number of the mates … They reported that she was about 10 weeks pregnant … and what we have been listening to is that she’s been telling individuals that you’re the daddy.
COLIN DUDLEY: No means. No. Hell no.
Dudley was adamant. He and Kassanndra weren’t in a relationship, and he was most positively not the daddy of her baby.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I requested him, are you certain? You understand, no — no one-night stands? No, you recognize, hookups after the actual fact or something like that? No, completely not, he says.
In truth, Dudley insisted he hadn’t seen or spoken to Kassanndra since they broke up again in 2006, besides as soon as, when he bumped into her on the mall.
DET. FRANZ HELMCKE: You have not had any – no contact together with her. No messages? Or no Fb or something?
COLIN DUDLEY: No.
Helmcke believed Dudley was mendacity. However may he show it? It turned out a clue to discovering the reply was in Smith’s paperwork.
THE MAN IN THE HAT
Detective Helmcke believed Colin Dudley was mendacity when he mentioned he had not seen or spoken to Kassanndra for years. Nevertheless it was Kassanndra’s mom Marie Smith who supplied some proof. She had been combing by means of Kassanndra’s outdated cellphone payments, the place she seen a thriller quantity that stored reappearing.
Marie Smith: We did not know … whose it was … as a result of it did not have a reputation hooked up to it.
Natalie Morales: Going again how far prior to now?
Marie Smith: Oh, we regarded again … months and months, you recognize … way back to we may see that this quantity stored popping up.
And the final time it popped up, Smith informed Detective Helmcke, was the morning Kassanndra disappeared.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I mentioned, “OK, so what — what’s that quantity?” And he or she tells me … And … I instantly know it is Colin’s.
Helmcke needed forensic investigators to take a better have a look at Dudley’s cellphone, which Detective Helmcke had taken once they’d met on Dudley’s entrance porch.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I informed him … I’ve a warrant to grab your cellphone. I learn him the warrant. Grabbed the cellphone … and we left.
Investigators later obtained the cellphone data for each Kassanndra and Dudley’s telephones. They have been turned over to Detective Ryan Salmon, the cellphone forensics analyst for the sheriff’s division. Salmon seen one thing curious: the title “Kassanndra” by no means appeared in Dudley’s cellphone.
Natalie Morales: What title was he utilizing for Kassanndra?
Det. Ryan Salmon: He had it underneath Velma.
Natalie Morales: Why Velma?
Det. Ryan Salmon: We discovered later by means of … Kassanndra’s mom that she had gone as Velma from “Scooby Doo” as a Halloween … costume.
And it is seemingly, Salmon mentioned, that Colin Dudley didn’t need his live-in girlfriend to know he was nonetheless in contact with Kassanndra. Even with out the knowledge from her water-logged cellphone, Salmon was capable of see when and the place she and Dudley interacted just by having these cellphone data.
Det. Ryan Salmon: It is … extraordinarily useful … in figuring out the place someone was … throughout a important timeframe … individuals have a cellphone with them virtually all day, daily.
The cellphone data confirmed Kassanndra’s white Mazda driving to the spot the place it was discovered. However had Kassanndra or another person parked it there? Detective Helmcke knew town’s gentle rail system was close by and requested their safety individuals if they might discover any footage of Kassanndra’s automobile. What they discovered proved essential.
Det. Franz Helmcke: “We’ve got the video you need. … you might want to get down right here and have a look at it.”
The movies have by no means been proven publicly. In a single video from a transferring gentle rail practice taken the late morning of August 25, Helmcke may see a person in a black hat strolling away from the place Kassanndra’s automobile was parked. Then, a unique digicam exhibits that very same man from a a lot nearer angle.
Det. Franz Helmcke: He’ll cross proper in entrance of this digicam. … So, he comes strolling throughout and you may see –
Natalie Morales: Fedora.
Det. Franz Helmcke: — all black, the blue gloves, then the fedora … And he simply sits down on the cease.
The time was 11:50 a.m. The person sits for 4 minutes after which retains strolling.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Now he will get up, continues strolling …
His face, coated by some sort of masks, is difficult to see however, primarily based on his construct and gait, Helmcke suspected that Colin Dudley was the person sporting that fedora. The detective had been informed that Dudley typically had requested — demanded even — that individuals name him “Hat” or “Hat Man.”
Alexandra McNary had heard all about it from Kassanndra.
Natalie Morales: Was he at all times sporting a hat?
Alexandra McNary: He would put it on and change into his persona of the Hat Man and most popular to be known as the Hat Man. The persona was principally the primary character from “Clockwork Orange.” Very darkish, deliberately so. Morally doubtful.
Natalie Morales: Did you see the safety video at all the man within the hat?
Alexandra McNary: I — did get to see it.
Natalie Morales: Did you have a look at it and say, “that is Colin?”
Alexandra McNary: Effectively, who else would it not be?
In that video from the sunshine rail system, the person within the hat retains strolling — proper into the Tacoma Dome Station parking storage, solely blocks away from the place Kassanndra’s automobile was discovered. Helmcke requested safety personnel on the storage if they’d any footage. The reply was a convincing “sure.”
Det. Franz Helmcke: They discover him strolling into the parking storage to a truck.
Det. Ryan Salmon: You possibly can see him utilizing … a remote-control opener, will get into the truck … After which as he exits the parking storage, you possibly can see fairly clearly within the video the license plate which comes again to Mr. Dudley.
That was Colin’s Chevy truck, proving, the detective mentioned, that the person within the video and Colin Dudley have been one and the identical.
Detective Helmcke was satisfied that Colin had accomplished one thing to Kassanndra, and he needed to get into Dudley’s home—instantly.
Det. Franz Helmcke: We do not have a physique. We do not have … any true proof that … Kassanndra is useless. We’re nonetheless hoping … possibly she is tied up within the basement.
Six days after Kassanndra Cantrell vanished, a SWAT staff burst into Colin Dudley’s home.
“THE MAJOR BREAK IN THE CASE”
Authorities have been out in power after they raided Colin Dudley’s home, however they discovered no signal of Kassanndra.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Kassanndra was … not discovered inside … however Colin … was detained quickly for us to do the fingerprints and DNA.
Investigators seized a number of objects from the home, together with Colin’s Chevy Colorado truck and a black fedora.
DET. FRANZ HELMCKE: I do not know if it is the identical one he is sporting within the video or not … there have been quite a few areas that they recognized within the basement the place there was doable DNA, blood proof … And so they mentioned that the cadaver canine confirmed specific curiosity within the basement … particularly a brown couch within the basement.
Det. Helmcke believed one thing horrible had occurred to Kassanndra. Dudley had stopped speaking to investigators, however his live-in girlfriend Rebecca Fischer, a carpenter, agreed to take a seat down for an interview.
DETECTIVE: Do you assume he can be able to hurting Kassanndra?
After a 13-second pause:
REBECCA FISCHER: Physics would say sure, he is obtained dimension and power on her. I do not assume he would … No, he wouldn’t.
And investigators couldn’t show in any other case. Dudley was free to go.
Natalie Morales: Why cannot you arrest him?
Det. Franz Helmcke: Effectively … he is responsible of one thing. However … what’s he responsible of?
Det. Helmcke needed to know each transfer Dudley made on August 25, the day Kassanndra went lacking. And he mentioned it grew to become clear that Dudley had hatched a well-thought-out plot to eliminate Kassanndra.
Det. Franz Helmcke: He had deliberate this, and he most likely was fairly meticulous in his planning.
In his police interview, Dudley mentioned that early on the morning Kassanndra disappeared, he’d visited Costco.
Det. Ryan Salmon: So, the primary cease he makes is at a Costco gasoline station.
That was at 6:31 a.m. Then he went to a second Costco to choose up provides for what he had informed detectives was a “spring cleansing.” Investigators subpoenaed receipts and the shop supplied video. Surveillance cameras decide up Dudley within the retailer round 7 a.m.
Natalie Morales: That is the place he mentioned he stopped as a result of he wanted provides for his spring cleansing.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Appropriate. Sure.
Natalie Morales: The video is so crystal-clear.
Det. Ryan Salmon: We predict that is most likely the rubbish sacs.
Retailer data present that Dudley bought a field of professional quality trash luggage.
Natalie Morales: Goes again to his home.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Proper.
Detectives say then Dudley dropped off the provides at house and drove to the Tacoma Dome Station parking storage arriving at 8:17 a.m.
Det. Ryan Salmon: We’ve got surveillance video for that, too, which exhibits that truck once more … Now, within the again, you may see a motorcycle. … And then you definitely’ll see him get out and placed on a helmet and get on a motorcycle and trip it away.
Dudley left his truck within the storage and started pedaling house. It is a few 20-minute trip. Investigators consider he needed to be house by 9 a.m. as a result of, because it seems, he and Kassanndra had made plans to satisfy at his home.
Certain sufficient, textual content data present that Kassanndra was outdoors Colin’s home at 8:49 a.m.
Det. Ryan Salmon: She mentioned, “I am a bit early, that okay?”
Natalie Morales: And he says?
Det. Ryan Salmon: He says, “Yep, come on down.” And people two messages have been each deleted out of his cellphone.
Natalie Morales: And, so, the 2 telephones are then pinpointed in that very same location on the home for a few hours.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Proper.
For a bit of greater than two hours, neither cellphone confirmed any motion, and it was throughout this time period investigators consider Colin Dudley seemingly killed Kassanndra Cantrell.
Natalie Morales: It … exhibits you the quantity of premeditation –
Det. Ryan Salmon: Proper.
Natalie Morales: — that went into planning this.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Proper.
It seems, investigators say, that round 11:40 a.m., Dudley turned off his cellphone as Kassanndra’s cellphone exhibits it transferring away from the home. Det. Salmon says that is as a result of Dudley had her cellphone with him as he drove her automobile to the spot the place he deserted it close to the sunshine rail station.
Natalie Morales: He turns his cellphone off, however would not flip her cellphone off and is driving round with it? What was he pondering?
Det. Franz Helmcke: Apparently … he wasn’t — he wasn’t pondering effectively sufficient … not as sensible as he thought he was.
Det. Ryan Salmon: You will see Kassanndra’s automobile –
Natalie Morales: Is that it proper there?
Det. Ryan Salmon: Yep, that white one coming down.
And then you definitely see Dudley within the hat strolling away from her automobile. Bear in mind how he paused for just a few moments and sat down? Det. Salmon believes he was gathering himself after murdering Kassanndra.
Det. Ryan Salmon: I feel he’s simply bodily drained due to most likely how violent the incident was.
Detectives say Dudley then retrieved his truck from the storage the place he had stashed it earlier that day, drove to Owen Seaside and tossed Kassanndra’s cellphone into the Puget Sound.
Natalie Morales: And what time roughly was … that final ping?
Det. Franz Helmcke: It was round 12:45 p.m.
However whereas investigators had found her cellphone within the water, they nonetheless hadn’t discovered Kassanndra. That they had no concept what Dudley had accomplished together with her, however they did have his Chevy Colorado truck, and Helmcke had an concept.
Det. Franz Helmcke: As an investigator, I have been uncovered to … completely different applied sciences … and we knew vehicles had … digital … proof contained in them.
Nearly each automobile or truck has reams of information that may be extracted.
Det. Ryan Salmon: So, that is the place the key break within the case, you recognize, got here by means of.
Natalie Morales: You possibly can flip your cellphone off and never essentially have the ability to observe. However you possibly can’t flip your automobile’s black field off.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Precisely.
Helmcke obtained a warrant to take away the truck’s black field—primarily a pc that tracks and data almost each transfer a automobile makes. He reviewed the information which confirmed a lot of what they already knew from the cellphone data. However there was one thing new that caught everybody’s consideration. The truck’s black field had a report of Colin Dudley’s actions on August 26 — the day after Kassanndra visited his home.
Natalie Morales (taking a look at a monitor): And that is the following morning.
Det. Ryan Salmon: Appropriate. So, now, we’re at 6:00 a.m. … After which, in fact, we seen the place the automobile stops … that there is a giant, wooded ravine.
On Sept. 22, 2020, Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke rushed to that ravine, which is 8 miles from Dudley’s home. It was almost a month since Kassanndra had gone lacking.
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: I, uh, obtained there first and regarded over the hillside, and, uh, you can clearly see that there was, uh, a … rubbish can midway down the hill. … you can see that the rubbish can had, uh, a bag liner and, uh, some ropes round it …
He additionally noticed blood.
Natalie Morales: So, you clearly at this level knew you had stays?
Det. Sgt. Brent Van Dyke: Oh, completely.
Helmcke, additionally on the scene, needed to make a fast identification and he knew that Kassanndra had a particular tattoo.
Det. Franz Helmcke: I requested them to take an image of it. So, they took an image and got here strolling up the hill.
Helmcke acknowledged the tattoo instantly. Kassanndra Cantrell was useless. Helmcke’s coronary heart sank when he thought of calling Kassanndra’s mom.
Det. Franz Helmcke: So, I known as Marie and … I informed her that I had data that I wanted to share together with her.
Marie Smith: My first query was, “is she OK?” (emotional)
Natalie Morales: Mm-hmm.
Marie Smith: And he mentioned … “No, I am sorry, she’s not.”
Kassanndra’s twin brother Rob overheard that cellphone name.
Rob Cantrell: The second I heard her screaming, I knew that they’d discovered her.
Colin Dudley was arrested that evening and later charged with first-degree homicide.
Investigators felt they’d constructed a robust case, so robust that they determined to not attempt to retrieve the knowledge on Kassanndra’s waterlogged cellphone.
The case barreled towards trial for 2 years, after which Kassanndra’s family and friends heard that prosecutors have been contemplating making a plea cope with Dudley. They may not consider it.
Marie Smith: It was premeditated … it was actually cold-blooded.
Kristi Sinclair: I’ve no phrases.
Natalie Morales: Loads of anger, although.
Kristi Sinclair: Quite a bit.
Alexandra McNary: She was an optimist. … She by no means misplaced that even up till the top. I consider that she entered his home hopeful.
Hopeful that Colin Dudley was getting comfy together with her being pregnant. As a substitute, investigators consider he brutally murdered her. An post-mortem revealed precisely how brutal.
Det. Franz Helmcke: There have been fractures, main fractures to her cranium.
Natalie Morales: So, hit over the top. Many instances.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Reason for demise was blunt power trauma.
Investigators say they have been by no means capable of determine a homicide weapon. However they did discover these traces of blood — seemingly Kassanndra’s — in Dudley’s basement.
Det. Franz Helmcke: Basement flooring, partitions, a stainless-steel desk and the laundry room sink.
Police suspect Colin cleaned the basement a number of instances after killing Kassanndra and stored her physique there in a single day, earlier than dumping her in that ravine the following morning. And so they consider Colin’s live-in girlfriend Rebecca was house throughout a few of that point.
Det. Franz Helmcke: And occupied with, you recognize, Rebecca’s there in the home, too.
Natalie Morales: That was my subsequent query. Was there any thought that she needed to have been concerned?
Det. Franz Helmcke: There was — I imply, some individuals thought that.
Investigators confronted Rebecca.
DETECTIVE: Did you’ve gotten something to do together with her disappearance of Kassanndra on any degree?
REBECCA FISCHER: Nope.
Det. Franz Helmcke: We didn’t discover any data that … she knew that it went on, that she had something to do with it. … They stored separate areas of the home. And so, I may see, you recognize, her doing her personal factor and … not happening the basement.
However Rebecca did verify to police that Colin by no means needed to be a father.
REBECCA FISCHER: He doesn’t need to be a dad.
Pierce County Deputy Prosecutors Brian Wasankari and Patrick Vincent went to work on proving Dudley’s guilt.
Brian Wasankari: I believed this was a really robust case, at the very least circumstantially. I imply, oddly, it isn’t one by which we had a substantial amount of bodily proof. … It was a case that relied on primarily digital data.
Like that video of Colin leaving Kassanndra’s automobile, these cellphone data inserting Kassanndra at Colin’s home the morning she disappeared, and the information displaying Colin’s truck the place Kassanndra’s stays have been ultimately discovered. For the prosecutors it appeared like lots, however they have been involved about convincing a jury at trial.
Brian Wasankari: We do not have an eyewitness, we do not have a homicide weapon, we do not have a confession.
So, when the protection provided to simply accept a deal, the prosecutors negotiated. Finally, Colin Dudley agreed to plead responsible to homicide within the first diploma for killing Kassanndra. The prosecutors introduced the deal to Kassanndra’s household. They have been livid.
However on Nov. 14, 2022, Colin Dudley formally entered his responsible plea.
JUDGE: With regard to the cost, Homicide within the First Diploma, how do you plead, responsible or not responsible?
COLIN DUDLEY: Responsible.
He was sentenced to 26 years in jail.
Kristi Sinclair: I’ve no phrases that might even embody the frustration, anger, unhappiness, heartache.
Kassanndra’s household and mates had needed a trial the place the complete story was informed. They’re additionally upset that somebody responsible of murdering a pregnant lady would solely get 26 years in jail.
Natalie Morales: Do you assume the system is damaged?
Kristi Sinclair: Very damaged on this case. … How is it that someone can do what he did and never must spend his life in jail?
It was a sentiment Steve Ammann shared. He felt betrayed by his one-time pal and had even written a letter to the choose saying, “He shouldn’t be out in any respect. He will not study from this.”
Colin Dudley seemingly will get out. And with good conduct, he might be free once more as early as 2044.
Marie Smith: He ought to by no means see the sunshine of day once more.
Natalie Morales: As a result of when he will get out, he might be in his early 60s.
Marie Smith: Yeah. … and he is nonetheless obtained all that point to stay.
Kassanndra’s household desires to be sure that nobody else suffers the best way they are saying they’ve. They want a legislation in Washington State that if somebody is responsible of knowingly killing a pregnant lady, they might routinely get a life sentence.
Rob Cantrell: No risk of parole. You die in jail. … Till there’s any form of resemblance of justice, I am not letting this go.
And whereas the household wages that struggle, Kassanndra’s twin brother is making an attempt to honor his sister in different methods she would have beloved.
Natalie Morales: You probably did, although, lastly open that dream that you simply had collectively, your individual retailer.
Rob Cantrell: Sure. I obtained an enormous mural of her hanging within the window after which pictures all through the shop of her. It is a residing tribute to her.
The shop just isn’t removed from Kassanndra’s grave, the place he and his mother go to go to her.
Marie Smith: You understand, say hello, maintain her gravestone clear. … bringing her flowers.
Natalie Morales: Do you assume what life might be like together with her now if she had had the possibility to stay her life and be a mother?
Marie Smith: Yeah. I give it some thought lots as a result of she had all of those plans …She had all of those candy plans. (emotional)
Marie says her daughter lived life to fullest, immortalized by that particular tattoo she had of her favourite quote.
Marie Smith: “We do not cease enjoying as a result of we develop outdated. We develop outdated as a result of we cease enjoying.”
Marie Smith: she at all times had one thing up her sleeve. She would spring little surprises on me … and that is what I miss most. It is only a pleased presence.
Kassanndra Cantrell’s household has filed a wrongful demise lawsuit towards Colin Dudley.
It’s scheduled to go to trial in August 2023.
Produced by Betsy Shuller, Paul La Rosa and Lauren Clark. Greg Fisher is the event producer. Morgan Canty is the affiliate producer. Doreen Schechter is the producer/editor. Joan Adelman and Marlon Disla are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.