SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The woman suspected of killing a fellow patient at Eastern State Hospital pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Spokane County District Court and was ordered held on $1 million bail.
Court documents show that patient Amber Roberts, 30, led a staff member to the man's body by playing a game of "hot and cold." Authorities claimed she approached the worker early Tuesday morning and said: "I murdered someone, but you're going to have to find him."
According to documents, the staff member searched room to room, with Roberts following and saying: "You're getting warmer."
As the staff member approached the room of 56-year-old Duane E. Charley, Roberts said: "You're hot."
The staff member looked inside and found Charley's body. Roberts said she had strangled him with an electrical cord, the documents show.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner identified Charley, of Grant County, as the man found dead at Eastern State, which is located in the suburb of Medical Lake. He died of strangulation, the medical examiner concluded.
The slaying occurred in the hospital's 31-bed forensics unit, a co-ed ward where criminally insane patients are housed. Roberts has been institutionalized since 2004, after a judge declared her legally insane for attacking a 72-year-old Yakima woman and stealing the woman's car in 2003.
Charley came to the hospital in 1994, after he was acquitted by reason of insanity of taking indecent liberties in a Grant County case.
According to court documents, Roberts entered Charley's room and strangled him, then told Charley's roommate: "Don't say anything or you'll be next."
John Wiley, a spokesman for the state Department of Social and Health Services, said staff who have worked there for three decades cannot recall another homicide at Eastern State. The department operates the hospital.
Roberts appeared in court via video feed from the Spokane County Jail. She wore handcuffs with her hands behind her back. She pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.