The Disappearance of Cassandra Cantrell: Inside the Investigation

Marie Smith

A few days after the young woman goes missing, a man wearing a distinctive hat is seen walking away from his car. who is the man with the hat?

August 25, 2020, Cassandra Cantrell A 33-year-old woman from Tacoma, Washington has gone missing. Her mother, Marie Smith, recalled that she said her goodbyes to Cassandra early that day, but Cassandra didn’t come home later that day and she stopped answering calls and text messages. Stopped, she said.

not like her

Cassandra Cantrell and Alexandra McNally

Alexandra McNally

According to Cassandra’s friend Alexandra McNally, the two were supposed to meet on August 26, 2020, but Cassandra didn’t show up. The next morning, Cassandra’s mother texted McNally to see if Cassandra was with her, but she replied that Alexandra wasn’t, and Marie Smith called the police later that day. .

where did cassandra go

Cassandra Cantrell's car

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Pierce County Sheriff Detective Franz Helmke spoke with Cassandra’s family and friends, and reviewed local surveillance footage for clues. Security cameras in the neighborhood found video of Cassandra’s white Mazda leaving the neighborhood on the morning of August 25, when Cassandra went missing.

man in hat

man in the hat surveillance video

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

On August 28, 2020, police found Cassandra’s car parked on the street in an industrial area. It was unlocked with the key in the center console. Investigators requested camera footage of his Aug. 25 train, as a tram ran on the same street. One video showed a man in a dark hat leaving Cassandra’s car and heading to a nearby tram station around 11:50 that morning.

look for clues


Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Investigators tracked Cassandra’s cell phone to try to determine the last known location of her. The phone pinged about two miles south of the tower near Puget Sound. Based on its location, they believed her phone was likely somewhere in the water near Owen Beach in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, Pierce County Metro Her dive team , hit the beach, queued up, and explored underwater.

surprising discovery

Cassandra Cantrell's mobile phone in Puget Sound

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Incredibly, just over an hour later, one of the divers found Cassandra’s sparkly phone case. It was sent to experts to determine if information could be recovered from it. Meanwhile, Marie Smith combs through Cassandra’s phone records. She noticed a communication with an unfamiliar number that had not been assigned her name. The last time the number appeared in Cassandra’s phone records was the morning she disappeared.

Increased urgency to find Cassandra

Text by Cassandra Cantrell

Alexandra McNally

The investigation was carried out on several fronts. Investigators also knew Cassandra was about 10 weeks pregnant when she went missing. The meeting scheduled for the 26th was to attend her first ultrasound.

secret romance

Colin Dudley

Sue Evans

Alexandra McNally said Cassandra told her the father of her future baby was her ex-boyfriend, Colin Dudley, whom she was seeing again. and dated for several months. Dudley then began a relationship with another ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ cast member, and by 2020 they were living together.

However, Cassandra had told friends that she and Dudley had secretly rekindled their romance. McNally told 48 Hours contributor Natalie Morales that after she confided in her pregnancy to Colin, she got a call from Cassandra. “…She said, ‘Well, I told him…and it worked better than expected…he said stay calm, don’t worry, they’ll talk.'”

Interview with Colin Dudley

Colin Dudley's house

CBS news

Detective Helmke went to Colin Dudley’s house to arrange an interview and left his phone number. Dudley called him and agreed to speak to him the next day. When Det. When Helmke asks about Cassandra, Dudley says he hasn’t heard from her in years.

Remember the mysterious phone number Marie Smith found in Cassandra’s phone records? Helmke confronts Dudley about Cassandra’s claim that he is the baby’s father, which Dudley denies, denying any involvement in her disappearance.

chasing the hat man

man in hat

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

When Det. Helmcke saw footage from the light his rail her system where Kassandra’s car was spotted and something was sticking out. The man who left the car on August 25 resembled Colin Dudley, but wore a mask and a black fedora. He appeared to be walking away from the train station towards a nearby parking lot, so Helmke asked the garage security team to search the video recordings for signs of the man in the hat. .

Colin Dudley track

Watching Colin Dudley

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Video from the garage shows a man in a hat walking in just after leaving the light rail station on the morning of August 25, 2020. He got in and drove off. As the truck left the garage, I saw his number plate. Registered with Colin Dudley.

pieces gather


Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Scanning footage of the garage from the earlier hours of August 25, investigators discovered a Chevrolet truck was parked there around 8:00 am. Start by bicycle. Investigators believe Dudley had the truck in place in case he later unloaded Cassandra’s car.

planned meeting


Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

According to cell phone provider data, Cassandra Cantrell and Colin Dudley said that at 8:49 a.m. the morning Dudley went missing, Cassandra texted Dudley, “A little early, are you okay?” It turned out that Dudley replied, “Yes, please get off.”

Investigators search Colin Dudley’s home


Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Investigators searched Colin Dudley’s home, but did not find Cassandra. They took evidence of his truck, bicycle and black fedora. The corpse dog showed particular interest in the basement, especially the brown sofa. However, that alone did not lead to an arrest. Detective Helmke told 48 Hours, “He’s guilty of something. But… what is he guilty of?”

new lead


Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

After investigators were able to focus on Colin Dudley, they removed the black box in his truck to collect data and obtained a warrant to track the truck’s movements on the day of Cassandra’s disappearance.

What caught their attention was Dudley’s movement on August 26, the day after Cassandra was at his home. stopped. On September 22, 2020, nearly a month after Cassandra’s disappearance, investigators rushed to a ravine just eight miles (8 miles) from Dudley’s home.

Police data shows Colin Dudley’s movements on the morning of Aug. 26, 2020. The yellow dot represents Dudley’s car driving to where Cassandra Cantrell’s body was found.

Cassandra Cantrell’s body found

Discovery of Cassandra Cantrell

Pierce County Sheriff’s Office

Near where Colin Dudley’s Chevy was parked, investigators found a trash can containing bag liners, blood, and human remains. Details Helmcke was able to identify the body by the characteristic tattoos Marie Smith told him her Kassandra had. She said, “We don’t stop playing when we get old. We get old because we stop playing.” Cassandra Cantrell was discovered.

Colin Dudley pleads guilty

Colin Dudley pleads guilty


Colin Dudley was arrested that night and charged with first-degree murder. He later pleaded guilty and the case was never brought to trial.

On November 14, 2022, Dudley was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder of Cassandra Cantrell. If he behaves well, he could be out in 2044.

Cantrell Hatman

man in hat


Surveillance image of the man in the hat The Disappearance of Cassandra Cantrell: Inside the Investigation

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