Ex-boyfriend charged for 2017 murder of Renton woman

Richard Nelson, 41, fatally shot 27-year-old Crystal Hawkins and then left her body outside St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way in October 2017.

After refusing to get back together, Crystal Hawkins was lured by her ex-boyfriend to a Kent apartment, where he fatally shot her and then left her body at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way in 2017, according to prosecutors.

King County prosecuters charged Richard Nelson, 41, with second-degree murder May 19 for the October 2017 death of Crystal Hawkins. His arraignment is scheduled for June 1 at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Nelson is already being held at King County Jail for a second-degree domestic violence assault case, in which he is accused of strangling and threatening to kill his current girlfriend April 30 at The Union Apartments in Federal Way.

“The defendant’s physical violence and threats to kill this victim with a handgun are even more chilling given the defendant’s homicide of his previous partner with a firearm,” the charging documents state.

According to the charges, details of Hawkins’ death are as follows:

On Oct. 25, 2017, Federal Way police were dispatched to St. Francis Hospital around 4 a.m. regarding a female victim, later identified as 27-year-old Hawkins, who was found near the building’s main entrance bleeding and unconscious.

A hospital employee arriving at work had initially found Hawkins’ body lying on the curbside, shortly after seeing a vehicle leave that area of the hospital, and called for help. Later, it was discovered Hawkins had been fatally shot in the back of the head.

A few hours later, a blue 2005 Volvo registered to Hawkins’ mother was found at a Kent mobile home property. After a search warrant was obtained, police found “a heavy concentration of blood in the passenger seat, but also noted blood throughout other parts of the vehicle,” charging papers state. A spent 9-mm bullet casing was found in the car. Nelson’s fingerprints were also later found on and inside the vehicle.

Hawkins’ mother confirmed the Volvo belonged to her and said she last spoke with her daughter, who also lived with her, around 1 or 2 a.m. Oct. 25. Crystal Hawkins told her mother she was going to visit a friend at a nearby apartment complex.

Federal Way detectives were able to find Nelson had created a fake email account and had lured her to a Kent apartment, where he fatally shot her in the back of the head, then dumped her body in Federal Way, according to charging documents.

Just days prior to her death on Oct. 22, 2017, Hawkins and her ex-boyfriend met at a Renton bar where Nelson asked to get back together.

The two previously dated for about a year and had broken up in September 2017. At the time, Hawkins was in a relationship with a man in California.

According to documents, Hawkins refused to get back together with Nelson and later told a friend Nelson was having a difficult time with the separation and couldn’t let go of her.


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