A Richland High School graduate was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, who died following a violent attack at an off-campus apartment near the University of Washington in Seattle.
Bail was raised to $2 million for Casey S. Henderson, 21, who is accused of beating and strangling Katy Straalsund, 22, in an assault interrupted Sunday by Seattle police officers.
Straalsund, also from Richland, was pronounced dead Tuesday at Haborview Medical Center in Seattle. She and Henderson were students at the UW. Straalsund graduated from River’s Edge High School in Richland and Columbia Basin College.
Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to double Henderson’s bail from $1 million, calling him a serious flight risk and a danger to the community, according to new documents filed in King County Superior Court.
“The vicious beating that inflicted catastrophic injuries on this young woman demonstrates the extreme danger the defendant poses,” wrote Mary Barbosa, senior deputy prosecutor, in court documents.
The vicious beating that inflicted catastrophic injuries on this young woman demonstrates the extreme danger the defendant poses.
Mary Barbosa, King County senior deputy prosecutor
Henderson’s parents live in Korea and he has another girlfriend who lives out of the country, court documents said. Henderson discussed on a recorded call at the King County jail that his family has “considerable assets” in the Lake Chelan area that could be used to post bail.
Prosecutors requested Henderson give up his passport while awaiting trial.
A day after the incident, Straalsund’s cousin told investigators that Straalsund previously discovered Henderson was secretly dating another woman, court documents said. Henderson had plans to move to Paris with the woman, who is from South America.
“Straalsund apparently told (her cousin) that they would occasionally argue about this, although it was (the cousin’s) impression that Straalsund viewed the relationship with Henderson as somewhat casual,” court documents said.
Straalsund apparently told (her cousin) that they would occasionally argue about this, although it was (the cousin’s) impression that Straalsund viewed the relationship with Henderson as somewhat casual.
Court documents in King County Superior Court
The UW President Ana Mari Cauce released a statement Wednesday, saying grief counselors will be available for students when they return from spring break next week.
“Our broken hearts are with Katy’s family and friends, and we offer our deepest condolences and support at this incredibly difficult time for them,” the statement said.
“This is a tragedy for those who loved Katy, for the UW and our community — a horrifying and senseless act of violence that has robbed a promising young woman of her future.”
Friends of Straalsund used social media to remember the woman they called beautiful, amazing and full of life. Her own Facebook posts reflected her love for the outdoors, music and poetry and her plans to teach English in Barcelona, Spain.
Our broken hearts are with Katy’s family and friends, and we offer our deepest condolences and support at this incredibly difficult time for them.
University of Washington statement
In court documents filed in connection with his arrest, Henderson admitted to officers he repeatedly punched, kicked and choked Straalsund, telling police the couple took LSD the day before the attack and he became paranoid.
He said he believed Straalsund was “plotting against him.”
A neighbor called 911 mid-afternoon Sunday and reported hearing a man yelling at a woman inside the basement apartment, court documents said. The man could be heard saying, “I will kill you” and “You wanna die?”
The neighbor, prosecutors said, heard the threats for about 20 minutes.
When police arrived, officers knocked on the door and heard screams and groans, court documents said. It went quiet when officers knocked again and announced they were with the police department.
An officer was able to look into the apartment through a glass door and saw that Henderson had Straalsund in a choke hold, court documents said. Other officers busted into the apartment and pulled Henderson off her at gunpoint.
Henderson broke his wrist while punching Straalsund, said investigators. Straalsund was taken to Harborview with severe head and face injuries.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has not released an official cause for her death.