Crime: 'She Would Have Been Such a Good Mom': Wash. Man Sentenced for Murdering Ex Because She Was Pregnant

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Kassanndra Cantrell © Provided by People Kassanndra Cantrell

A Washington man pleaded guilty Monday to murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend in 2020 and dumping her body in a ravine.

On Sept. 22, 2020, Colin Patrick Dudley, 40, of Tacoma, was arrested and charged with murdering Kassanndra Cantrell, 33, the month before.

Authorities said he killed her after he learned she was pregnant with his baby.

On Monday, Dudley waived his right to a trial and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, online court records show.

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He was sentenced to 320 months — or a little more than 26 years — in prison in the domestic violence killing, The News Tribune and KIRO7 report.

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Cantrell was excited about becoming a new mom and was getting ready for the baby's arrival when she vanished on Aug. 25, 2020, the day before she was supposed to go for her first ultrasound.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office immediately zeroed in on Dudley — he and Cantrell had met when she appeared in a local production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show when she was 18 and he was 22.

Cantrell broke up with him shortly after but reconnected with him after her father died in 2014, her mother, Marie Smith previously told PEOPLE.

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Nearly a month after Cantrell vanished, police, who used GPS data from Dudley's truck, found Cantrell's body wrapped in garbage bags in a ravine in a nearby town, according to a search warrant obtained by PEOPLE.

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She had been stabbed and the autopsy found that she had sustained fractures to her skull, authorities said.

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Dudley was arrested that same day and charged with first-degree murder.

Dudley had initially told police he hadn't spoken to Cantrell in years, but GPS records showed that her phone and his phone at his home on August. 25, 2020, authorities said.

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Cantrell's family was upset that Dudley made a plea deal with prosecutors, KIRO7 and The News Tribune report.

They told the judge they wanted a criminal trial instead of a plea deal, KIRO7 reports.

By making a plea agreement with prosecutors, Smith told KIRO7 she felt like Dudley was "choosing his punishment." She also said her daughter would have wanted a trial.

"People say that when it gets to this point, you feel closure," Smith told KIRO7 after court. "I don't. Closure would have been her coming home. That's never going to happen."

'She Would Have Been Such a Good Mom': Wash. Man Sentenced for Murdering Ex Because She Was Pregnant

  'She Would Have Been Such a Good Mom': Wash. Man Sentenced for Murdering Ex Because She Was Pregnant Colin Patrick Dudley admitted to killing Kassanndra Cantrell, 33, and throwing her body in a ravineA Washington man pleaded guilty Monday to murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend in 2020 and dumping her body in a ravine.

Cantrell's family and friends remember her as full of life and love.

"If I was the firecracker, she'd be the New Year's Eve ball drops in New York," her best friend, Alexandra McNary, previously told PEOPLE. "She wasn't shy. "She was real loud."

But when it came to dating, "she was a little more reserved and less experienced," she said.

Dudley, she said, "had been one of her only serious boyfriends. She told me she was seeing her ex every now and then because she was kind of lonely in quarantine. But she didn't say much more than that. She kept him hidden. That was weird for her."

'She Would Have Been Such a Good Mom'

Police believe Dudley was the father of Cantrell's baby. According to McNary, Cantrell knew her mom wasn't fond of Dudley, so she told her the baby's dad was "a guy she dated a couple of times and 'oops.'"

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But Dudley had also allegedly said something that disturbed Cantrell's loved ones — "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," prosecutors say in the search warrant.

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On Aug. 12, Cantrell told Dudley about the pregnancy.

"She told him that he didn't have to be involved," said McNary. "She just thought that he had a right to know. She told him that he could give up parental rights and she wouldn't ask him for child support."

Two weeks later, Cantrell vanished.

Smith held out hope that her daughter would be found alive. Deep down, she said, "I knew something was very wrong."

Smith told PEOPLE she deeply mourned the loss of her daughter and grandchild.

"She had all these plans laid out," said Smith. "She was going to have all the Mister Rogers stuff and all of the original Sesame Street and all of the old Disney because she wanted this sort of gentle, magical life for the baby. I would tease her and say, 'The grandma is supposed to be the one who spoils the grandchild. So what are you leaving me to do?'"

Smith added, "She would have been such a good mom."

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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