EVERETT — An Edmonds woman who lured a man to a motel room with plans to cut out his heart and eat it was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years in prison.
The victim fought for his life inside the Lynnwood motel room as the knife-wielding stranger he met on Craigslist straddled him and informed him she was a serial killer. Amy Brown, a dog groomer who lived with her parents, stabbed the man in the chest with a pocket knife. She lunged at him several more times before he pushed her off the bed, running for his life. He survived the Jan. 29 encounter.
Police later would find a life-sized coffin in Brown’s bedroom, along with a journal outlining her plans to become a serial killer and drawings for what she dubbed a “murder shack.” She repeated her plans to the cops — “I decided I wanted to become a serial killer and claim my first victim. It didn’t work.”
Brown, 24, was caught running across the motel parking lot, a bloody knife in her pocket and gloves on her hands. She gave a full confession and last month she pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, admitting she had shown an egregious lack of remorse. Brown, a community college student who skipped a grade in high school, had never been in trouble with the law until that night.
“I’m not all that often at a loss for words but … this leaves me near speechless,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Michael Downes said. “It’s cruel. It’s bizarre. It’s beyond the pale of how humans should treat each other.”
Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Jarett Goodkin sought the 18-year sentence. He argued against Downes considering Brown’s mental health issues when deciding an appropriate punishment. She had not raised a diminished capacity defense, Goodkin said.
Since she was a girl Brown has struggled with behavioral health issues. She first attempted suicide at the age of 10. She started cutting herself at 12. Her parents were unaware of the cutting until she was 18, when a school counselor caught her, her attorney wrote.
At 19, she was hospitalized after trying to overdose on prescription medications. That’s when she started seeing a psychiatrist and was prescribed medications, court papers said. Brown has been diagnosed with chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features.
She was admitted to Swedish Edmonds in 2015 for suicidal thoughts. Records indicate that while Brown was taking medications, she hadn’t received any counseling since 2013. She “was merely seeing psychiatrists for medication management,” her lawyer wrote.
She routinely took her medications until January when she became concerned that she was pregnant. By that time, she hadn’t seen her psychiatrist in months. She missed several appointments, which resulted in significant charges for failing to cancel in advance.
“The clinic refused to schedule her an appointment until she had paid off the large balance, which she was unable to afford,” defense attorney Jennifer Bartlett wrote.
Brown, in a letter to the judge, apologized to the victim. “If a person ignores the law, they may be considered as a cancer that needs to be removed from the whole. I was such a cancer,” she wrote.
Brown said she can’t explain why she stabbed the man. She described her thoughts that night as chaotic.
“My character, or so I’d like to believe it to be, is one of benevolence,” she wrote.
She takes care of dogs and hands out Starbucks gift cards to the homeless, Brown said. “From these actions you can assume that I am a good person. But good people don’t behave the way I did.”
Her lawyer explained that Brown has a history of becoming absorbed in fantasy worlds, such as card games, role-playing and mock medieval-style sword fighting.
The lines between fantasy and reality become blurred for her. “There have been times when Ms. Brown has become so immersed in fantasy that the characters from her fantasy life have merged with her own identity,” Bartlett wrote.
In the weeks before the stabbing Brown became obsessed with the television show “Hannibal.” The series revolves around a cannibalistic serial killer. The day of the stabbing Brown had spent hours watching it.
“All day?” the sergeant asked her.
“On and off. I can’t binge watch things so I was just watching an episode, eating something, knitting, watch another episode, do something else,” Brown said.
The victim, 29, who lives with his parents, had posted a personal ad on Craigslist because his therapist recommended he become more social. “Good Evening! Let’s go zombie hunting!” was the title of the online ad that attracted Brown’s attention.
Brown suggested they meet up. She later asked if he wanted to have sex and the pair decided to find a motel room.
Brown drove the man home so he could get cash from his parents for a room. Brown told police the couple stayed clothed and cuddled on the bed for about 10 minutes before she made her true intentions known.
The knife wound collapsed the victim’s lung. He could have died without immediate medical attention, a doctor told police.
Brown’s parents attended Tuesday’s hearing and her mother told the judge her daughter was not herself that night. “To this day, I still do not understand what triggered Amy to commit such a violent act towards a fellow human,” the Edmonds woman wrote in a letter to the judge.
She asked that Brown receive mental health services as soon as possible. She also asked to be allowed to hug her daughter.
Downes said he understands that parents want to believe the best of their children but from his standpoint Brown acted on the homicidal thoughts she’d had for years.
“It was Amy. It was precisely you. You made a conscious decision to kill this guy,” Downes said.
The judge pointed to the note that police found in Brown’s pocket after her arrest. She had told police she planned to leave it with the victim’s body. “If you are wondering what I do with the heart, I eat it. I will strike again.”
The young woman’s behavior was an abomination, the judge said. Her conviction is well-deserved, he added.
“It’s a well-deserved punishment.”