MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Britney Galindez was alive when she hit the water.
Galindez, 17, was choked, stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver and then thrown into Lake Ballinger. The teen tried to swim away from her attacker, but he waded in after her to finish her off, three witnesses told police.
Robert Langendoerfer, 21, is accused of drowning Galindez by holding the struggling girl underwater.
Witnesses said Langendoerfer, a gang member, got angry with Galindez after she threw up next to him in a car after a night of drinking. He allegedly told one witness he was upset that she was disrespecting him, according to a court document.
Prosecutors on Friday charged Langendoerfer with first-degree murder in Snohomish County Superior Court. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Galindez’s body was found floating in Lake Ballinger Oct. 21. She had been reported missing two days earlier.
Investigators tracked down three fellow gang members who were with Galindez on Oct. 13. They watched as she was stabbed and drowned, according to court documents.
They told detectives they were driving around Edmonds, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. They were stopped by Edmonds police and the driver was given a ticket for not having insurance.
Galindez threw up in the car during the traffic stop. After the officer left, Langendoerfer became upset and started yelling at her, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Dave Hiltner wrote in court documents.
The group pulled into the parking lot of a casino, where two security officers gave them towels and water to clean up the car, the witnesses reported.
Langendoerfer told one witness he was going to “kill the (expletive) if she does something else,” Hiltner wrote.
One witness told detectives he coaxed Galindez back into the car and told her they were going to the lake to talk things out. Once at the lake, the witnesses walked toward the water.
Langendoerfer and Galindez lagged behind. One witness told investigators Galindez was sending text messages. Then they heard a thud and saw Langendoerfer on top of the girl, court papers said. The three witnesses saw Langendoerfer stab Galindez with a screwdriver, they said. She was crying and asking “Why?”
The teens told police they didn’t do anything because they were scared.
Langendoerfer allegedly picked up Galindez, who was struggling to break free. He threw her in the water, Hiltner wrote. She started to swim away. The witnesses reported seeing Langendoerfer empty his pockets, take off his shirt and wade into the lake. The witnesses watched as he held Galindez underwater for about five minutes, Hiltner wrote.
Langendoerfer got out of the water and then threatened to kill them if they told anyone what happened, the witnesses told police.
Then the group drove off.
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.