UW student from Richland dies after beating by boyfriend


A University of Washington student from Richland has died after police say she was severely beaten and choked by her boyfriend in an LSD-fueled attack.

Officials have not yet released the woman’s name, but the Herald has learned she is Katy Straalsund, 22, a 2012 graduate of River’s Edge High School in Richland.

Police arrested Casey S. Henderson, 21, who is also from Richland and a UW student. He is in custody on $1 million bail on suspicion of domestic-violence assault.

Prosecutors expect to file charges in the case Wednesday.

Henderson told police after his arrest that the couple had been dating for about six months and they took LSD — a powerful hallucinogen — the day before the attack.

Straalsund was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the assault March 20 at her apartment in the University District, near the college campus.

Medical staff at the hospital told Seattle police that Straalsund had no brain activity when she arrived at the emergency room.

Police confirmed the death Tuesday night, two days after the initial assault.

Officers broke into the apartment after receiving a 911 call and interrupted the violent attack, pulling Henderson off Straalsund as he was choking her, according to a probable cause document filed in King County.

In the 911 call, received about 2:10 p.m. Sunday, a citizen reported a man yelling “You wanna die?” and “I will kill you” from the apartment.

There were shouts, moans and groans coming from inside the apartment when police knocked on the door, the document said. It went quiet when officers knocked again. An officer went around the east side of the building, looked through a glass door and saw Henderson choking Straalsund.

Other officers forced their way in, with at least one gun drawn, the document said. They handcuffed Henderson and started CPR on Straalsund, who had no pulse.

Henderson told police after his arrest that the couple had been dating for about six months and they took LSD — a powerful hallucinogen — the day before the attack.

They bought the drugs from a person on the street in the University District and walked around the UW campus after taking them, returning to the apartment between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Henderson said. He couldn’t account for what happened next.

“He did say that they never slept,” a detective wrote. “He states (that) after a while things ‘started to get weird.’ ”

Several times during the interview, Henderson stated, ‘I thought I killed her.

Seattle police detective

He became paranoid and imagined his girlfriend was “plotting against him,” the document said. He repeatedly punched and kicked her, using a kick he learned in taek won do. He then started strangling her with both hands and remembered yelling, “Do you want to live?”

“Several times during the interview, Henderson stated, ‘I thought I killed her,’ ” a detective wrote.

Henderson also asked detectives several times if Straalsund was alive or dead.

Online court records show no previous criminal history for Henderson in Washington.

Social media pages for Straalsund depict a young woman who enjoyed hiking in the mountains, quoting poetry and going to concerts. In a recent Instagram post, she showed off a new tattoo — a bright yellow sun shining through snow-capped mountains watching over a river.

Straalsund posted to Facebook on March 14 that she had aced a neuroscience final, and last month wrote about being accepted into a program to teach English in Barcelona, Spain.

Two days before the assault, Straalsund posted for the last time to her Facebook page.

“Life is good! It’s all about the journey and experiences that you collect as you go through life ...,” the post read. “Take solace in the fact that things will never be exactly the same as they are now, (whether) that’s in career, health and fitness, relationships, etc. Everything is evolving constantly in this crazy, fast, beautiful life.”

Friends of Straalsund took to social media Tuesday to remember the girl they called beautiful, amazing and full of life.

“Once a child of the sun, now a goddess of the stars,” one friend posted.

Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556, @Ty_richardson