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'Just so brutal': Man who murdered woman and left her on Spokane-area road gets 16 years in prison

Robert F. Mead, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The man who pleaded guilty to second degree murder in the death of homeless woman in Spokane was sentenced to 16 years in prison on Friday. 

Robert F. Mead, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree assault in August. Grace Wiggins, 24, was found dead on March 10, 2020 at about 3:40 a.m. on North Farwell Road east of Pittsburgh Street.        

According to court documents, an AMR employee driving in the area saw what she thought was a person lying in the westbound lanes on Farwell Road. She then turned the ambulance around and stopped just a short distance away from the body.

The employee activated her dash camera as she exited the ambulance and then found what she believed to be a naked woman's body with a plastic bag over her head, court documents say. She called 911 to report the incident and later provided a statement to a deputy.

One deputy who responded to investigate said the victim appeared to have "obvious trauma to the upper body and head," according to court documents.

According to court documents, investigators said a length of white fishing line was found in the road near the victim's body.

According to court documents, a deputy with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office accessed surveillance footage from Northwood Middle School, which borders the road where the body was found.

The video showed a vehicle traveling westbound at about 3:05 a.m. before an object consistent with the victim's body is deposited onto the road, court documents say.

Investigators found the vehicle, a black 2008 Honda Ridgeline, and seized it for evidence. They also contacted and detained two suspects, identified as 23-year-old Journey N. O’Donnal and Mead.

O'Donnal told investigators that she met the victim outside of the shopping center with her boyfriend, identified as Mead, court records say. She said they offered the victim a ride to their apartment on Lincoln Road.

According to court records, Mead helped the victim load her belongings into the car and they went to the apartment, where the victim remained for the rest of the day.

O'Donnal then told investigators that she woke up some time between 11 p.m. and midnight to find Mead pacing in the living room, court records say. He then reportedly told O'Donnal that the victim had died of a heroin overdose in their shower.

In an interview with investigators, Mead said he and O'Donnal had contacted "some homeless chick" in the Franklin Shopping Center Parking Lot, court records say.

According to court records, Robert told them the victim overdosed on drugs while showering in his bathroom. After her reported overdose, he said he dragged her body into his bedroom, where he placed a plastic bag over her head and bound her wrists with fishing line.

He then told investigators that he wrapped the victim's body in a bed sheet before he and his girlfriend moved the victim into the vehicle, court records say.

He admitted to dumping the victim's body and destroying her belongings, according to court documents.

According to court records, Robert said he did not seek medical or law enforcement assistance after the victim had died because he thought he may be accused of being a drug dealer.

When confronted with the results of the victim's autopsy, Robert denied strangling the victim but did suggest he may have put his hands around her neck while moving the body, according to court documents.

One of Wiggins' best friends, Ashley Houseman said what Mead did to this world by taking her could "never be justified". 

"Her laugh, oh her laugh, was one that you could never forget... Too many favorite memories to be able to choose just one. Grace was so sweet, harmless and a blessing to the world, and what he did was an act of cruelty," Houseman said.

Jeramy Johnson says he met 24-year-old Grace Wiggins when he was still homeless back in March. He says she immediately treated him like a friend.

"I don't care who you are, how brutal a nature you have, to do that to this girl would be, I don't know, beyond a sin," Johnson said.

Johnson said Wiggins was gentle, had a nursing spirit and a light inside of her.

"It was just so brutal, most of us couldn't wrap our head around how anybody could do that to her," Johnson said.

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