An Eastern State Hospital patient approached an employee making his rounds in the middle of the night.
“I murdered someone,” the patient told the employee, according to court documents, “but you’re going to have to find him.”
It was about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday in the ward reserved for the criminally insane. The patient, Amber Ilene Roberts, 30, followed the employee down the hall as he checked each of the rooms.
“You’re getting warmer,” she told him.
When he reached the room of Duane Charley, she said, “You’re hot.”
The employee looked into the room and saw the victim lying on the floor, covered with a blanket, according to court documents.
Roberts entered the room with the employee and pulled back the blanket, revealing Charley’s face and hands, which were covered in blood.
Roberts pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Spokane County District Court to first-degree murder in connection with the strangling death.
According to court documents, Roberts told the employee she had strangled the victim, and the employee placed her in an isolation cell and called for help.
Roberts appeared in Spokane County District Court via video feed from the Spokane County Jail on Wednesday.
According to court documents, Charley’s roommate, Charles Murch, was awakened sometime between midnight and 12:30 a.m. by a noise in the room. He saw Roberts climb on top of Charley, who was lying in bed, remove a belt from her waist, wrap it around Charley’s neck and begin strangling him.
Murch saw Roberts pull Charley off the bed and begin slamming his face against the floor repeatedly.
Roberts stopped the attack, approached Murch and whispered in his ear something like “don’t say anything to anyone or you’ll be next” before continuing to strangle Charley, documents say.
Fearing for his life, Murch pretended to be asleep.