The body of a missing pregnant woman was found along a steep hillside in University Place, Washington this week—ending a month-long search to find the 33-year-old after she disappeared before a scheduled ultrasound. Her ex-boyfriend has been arrested in her death.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department announced that the body of Kassanndra Cantrell was found around 2 p.m. Tuesday “wrapped and disposed of over a steep hillside along Chambers Creek.”
Cantrell’s ex-boyfriend, 37-year-old Colin Patrick Dudley, was taken into custody a short time later at his Tacoma home by the SWAT team and booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of murder. He is believed to have been the father of Cantrell’s unborn baby.
"It was a lot of work … and we’re happy that there’s resolution for the family," sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer told KOMO News. "But we're also sad for the family."
Cantrell was last seen August 25 and was reported missing by her family two days later, authorities said.
The last images of Cantrell, captured by a neighbor’s surveillance camera, showed her leaving the Parkland home she shared with her mother on Aug. 25 around 8:45 a.m., local station KCPQ reported at the time.
Her family believed she had been planning to go to the grocery store at some point that day but her mother, Marie Smith, told the station that it appeared in the images that she had taken time to get ready and believed it was likely she had been planning to meet someone.
“Everything seemed to indicate she was going to see somebody because if she was going to go to the grocery store, she would’ve just put her hair in a ponytail and put on some jeans and headed out, but it was clear she’d taken a shower and gotten dressed. She had taken some extra time. She doesn’t do that just to go grocery shopping,” Smith said at the time.
Her family became increasingly concerned after Cantrell, who was in the early stages of her pregnancy, failed to show up for a scheduled ultrasound despite having been very excited about having a baby.
The day after Cantrell she was reported missing, her white Mazda 3 sedan was found abandoned near the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma but there was no sign of the 33-year-old.
Investigators later discovered surveillance video that showed a person walking from the vehicle to a nearby parking garage. The person was seen leaving the parking garage a short time later in a truck with a license plate linked to Dudley, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities, including a team of forensic investigators from the FBI, executed a search warrant on Dudley’s home on Sept. 1 and seized the truck in question.
Using GPS data obtained from the truck, investigators were led to the area where Cantrell’s body was discovered Tuesday.
Members of the search and rescue team from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Tacoma Police Department, had to perform a “high-angle ropes operation” to recover the remains. Authorities believe they are Cantrell’s remains but are waiting official confirmation from the medical examiner’s office.
Before she disappeared, Cantrell had told those close to her that Dudley was the father of her baby, local station KCPQ reports.
The pair had not dated since 2006, but had been friends in the years since.
Those who knew Cantrell said she was thrilled about the pregnancy and had even picked out names, but she was worried about telling Dudley about the pregnancy because she believed he did not want children.
Her best friend told detectives that Cantrell had remembered a comment Dudley allegedly made when they were dating more than a decade ago stating that “if any girlfriend of his got pregnant and wouldn’t get an abortion, he would sue to get full custody, just to spite the mother for having the child,” according to the local station.
Dudley had also been in a relationship with another woman for the last 14 years.
After Cantrell disappeared, Dudley initially told investigators that he hadn’t seen or spoken to Cantrell in years and said he would never do anything to jeopardize his current relationship.
But investigators were able to confirm Cantrell and Dudley were in touch using phone records.
After confronting Dudley with what they learned, he allegedly denied the relationship and stopped answering questions from investigators.
The morning Cantrell disappeared, cell phone records place both Cantrell and Dudley’s phones together at his Tacoma home. He allegedly texted his wife a short time later, to say that the power was temporarily out and to not “freak out if the ADT cams are down,” KCPQ reports.
He told investigators that he had spent some of the day Cantrell disappeared “spring cleaning.”
Cantrell’s’ mother is now left grappling with the loss of her daughter.
“Her brother keeps asking why? There’s no why,” she told KCPQ this week. “He’s a bad person, that’s all there was. There is no why. … She literally wanted nothing from him.”
Even if Dudley is convicted of killing her daughter, Smith said it won’t bring her daughter back. She’s haunted now by the final images of her daughter captured on the neighbor’s surveillance footage.
“All I can think is how she must’ve been looking forward to seeing him. ... She’d taken so much time to get ready, to look pretty for him … and all the time, all the time … he was planning," she said.
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