Crime

More details revealed in Bellingham mom’s death as son is charged with her murder

Son charged with killing mother makes first appearance in court

Matthew Downey Gregory, who was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder of his mother, makes his first court appearance Monday.
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Matthew Downey Gregory, who was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder of his mother, makes his first court appearance Monday.

Neighbors say they may have heard the moment a Bellingham man allegedly took his mother’s life in their Happy Valley neighborhood home, before taking and leaving her body in the water at Samish Park over the weekend, according to documents filed Wednesday afternoon in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Matthew Downey Gregory, 29, is charged with one count of second-degree murder for the death of his 64-year-old mother, Frances Gregory. If convicted, he faces 20 years to life in prison.

Gregory’s arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 10. He is currently in the Whatcom County Jail on $1 million bail.

After Gregory’s arrest, his father told investigators his son had been diagnosed with mental health issues, according to court records.

Frances Gregory’s body was found around 10:45 Sunday morning in the water at Lake Samish, near the 600 block of North Lake Samish Drive. She was pant-less, shoe-less and her legs were wrapped in a torn goose-down blanket, according to court records. An investigation revealed no evidence of sexual assault, the records state.

Police identified Frances Gregory from her driver’s license, records show.

Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel ruled her death a homicide, and said she died from cuts to her neck and blunt force trauma to her head. There was also evidence of strangulation, Goldfogel said, and her date of death is unknown. Frances Gregory’s wounds were likely caused by a knife, court records show.

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Crime scene tape blocks the entrance of a Happy Valley home where Frances Gregory lived with her son Matthew Gregory. He is charged with one count of second-degree murder for the death of his 64-year-old mother. Evan Abell evan.abell@bellinghamherald.com

Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Matthew Gregory called Bellingham police and said his mother was missing from their Bellingham home. Gregory had also made several suspicious calls to family members about his missing mother, including telling his uncle and father conflicting stories about when his mother had left and where she had gone, court records state.

Later Sunday night, police went to Frances Gregory’s home in the 1500 block of Harris Avenue, where her son Matthew Gregory also lived. Matthew Gregory told officers he last saw his mother on Saturday around 1 p.m., when they made small talk before she left without her purse, cell phone or car, court records state.

While inside the house, officers noticed a dustpan on the floor with debris, including goose-down feathers similar to those found in the blanket on Frances Gregory’s body and near the lake. When officers looked in the window of Frances Gregory’s car, they saw feathers and blood stains in the back seat, according to court records. They also found a pair of women’s sneakers on the front passenger floorboard.

While serving a search warrant at the home, officers found spots of blood and a tuft of grey hair on the porch, records state. Officers found more blood and “what appeared to be great efforts to clean up the blood” inside the house, according to court records.

A neighbor told officers they heard screaming around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, silence and “then multiple thuds that sounded like body blows,” records show. Officers believe Matthew Gregory violently killed his mother in their home, and then took her body and dumped it in Lake Samish, according to court records.

At the time of his arrest, Gregory had his mother’s phone and credit card in his possession. A receipt showed he had used his mother’s card after her death, and her purse was found in his bedroom closet, records state.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt
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