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Docs: Spokane murder suspect says brain tumor made ex 'insane,' wanted her dead

The victim's brother said Nathan Beale had openly threatened to shoot his sister before she was found dead in front of his Browne's Addition apartment.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman was found dead in her car in Browne's Addition on Saturday, according to Spokane Police Ofc. John O'Brien.

Nathan Beale, 36, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder during a court appearance on Monday afternoon. A judge set his bond at $1 million. 

Court documents filed on Monday are providing new details in the investigation.  

A citizen initially called for a medic after noticing the woman slumped over in her car around 2:38 p.m. Saturday afternoon in the 1900 block of West 2nd Avenue. An officer also responded and discovered the woman was deceased, O'Brien said.

According to court documents, the woman was bleeding from her mouth and had trauma to her left eye, consistent with a bullet wound to the head. The officer who responded to the scene said it did not look like she had been robbed and did not see anything noticeably disturbed in the car, documents say. A 9 mm shell casing was found on the ground nearby and no gun was found, according to documents. 

Court documents say the woman was Beale's ex and they have two children together. Her car was parked across the street from Beale's apartment when her body was found, documents say. 

While officers were on scene investigating, a man called 911 saying his girlfriend flew into Spokane and had been texting him as she got close to her ex's house and she stopped communicating with him at 11:44 a.m., documents say. 

Beale was with both of his children when police detained him at his home, documents say. He told police he was expecting his ex to come pick up the children around noon and she didn't show up, according to court documents. 

One of Beale's children told police they had been visiting their dad for about five weeks. According to documents, the child said she was going through her dad's backpack the first week she was there and found a black pistol. She told police she got a text from her mother at 12:36 p.m. that said she was outside, according to documents.

A witness told police they heard a gunshot around 12:30 p.m. and saw a white man wearing a light gray sweatshirt and jeans running northbound away from the victim's car, documents say.

According to documents, a gray shirt was found in a dumpster near the victim's car, similar to the one described by the witness.

During a search of Beale's home, documents say a black semi-automatic 9mm Ruger handgun was found under a backpack. The chamber was empty and the magazine had live rounds identical to the shell casing found on the street where the victim was shot, documents say.  

Police contacted the victim's brother. The brother told police he and his siblings knew this was coming because "Beale has not concealed his hatred" for the victim or "his plans to shoot her," documents say. 

"Over the past 3-5 years or so, Beale has talked about how he would commit murder, with many details," documents say. 

The victim's brother said Beale had openly threatened to shoot his sister before and last summer when she went to pick up her kids from Beale, he said he was going to kill her, according to documents. He encouraged his sister to file a police report. 

The victim's brother said Beale told him that his sister "had brain damage because of a tumor that had been removed from her brain, causing her to now be insane so she needed to be shot; Beale said he would take care of that," according to documents. 

"Another time, Beale said he was going to save up $3,000 and hire someone to kill her," documents say. 

The victim told her brother five days before the murder that she thought her boyfriend was going to propose, documents say. She told him she wanted to be careful when she picked up the kids because Beale wanted her dead, "that he said he had a bullet for her head" and her boyfriend, documents said.

She told her brother she was going to communicate well with her boyfriend while she was picking up the kids because she was scared Beale would kill her. The victim's boyfriend told her brother that she took a picture of her car and license plate before going to Beale's apartment and sent it to him so he would know what car she was in, in case Beale hurt her, documents say. 

Officers are asking anyone who witnessed anything suspicious around the location at the time of the murder or has surveillance video of the area to contact Crime Check at 509-456-2233 and reference case #2020-20136923.

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