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Man who killed girlfriend in Spokane Valley sentenced to 20 years

Joseph W. Scheel, 28, plead guilty to the murder of Edna P. Hernandez.
Credit: KREM

The man who killed his girlfriend in Spokane Valley back April was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday.

Joseph W. Scheel, 28, plead guilty to the murder of Edna P. Hernandez.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said they responded to a welfare check for the victim at the Beau Rivage apartments in the 4900 block of East Upriver Drive at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2.

According to court records, Hernandez’s was employed at Sacred Heart Hospital in the Environmental Services Division. Her manager said Hernandez recently checked into the emergency room after she said she was “thrown out of a vehicle and later that she had to jump from a vehicle,” according to court records.

Court documents said Hernandez recently called in late for work and took time off due to issues with her boyfriend, Joseph Scheel.

When Hernandez didn’t show up for work on Tuesday, April 2, her manager called police because this was out of character and he was concerned for her safety, documents said.

When deputies arrived at the apartment, the door was locked and Hernandez was not responding to phone calls. Deputies left the scene.

At 3:30 p.m. the same day, Spokane County Sheriff's deputies responded to an attempted purse theft at a Safeway in North Spokane. Court documents said the suspect fled in a car registered to Hernandez.

Deputies went back to the Hernandez's apartment complex and talked to the complex manager, who said another manager spoke with Hernandez on Monday, April 1. Deputies didn't see the Hernandez's vehicle and no one answered the apartment door, officials said.

According to court documents, the manager of the Beau Rivage apartments talked to Hernandez and Scheel on Monday, April 1. The manager told investigators that the two were supposed to move out of the apartment on March 31. The manager said Scheel got upset and went inside the apartment.

Hernandez showed the manager injuries to her arm and leg, court documents said. The manager said she acted scared of Scheel.

According to court documents, the manager offered to contact or direct her to contact Catholic Charities for help but, when she did, Hernandez hushed her because she was worried Scheel would hear.

On Wednesday, April 3, at 11:30 a.m., deputies came back to the complex to help managers try to get into Hernandez apartment. Deputies also saw the woman's vehicle near the complex.

Court documents said management attempted to open the door but it was blocked by something inside the apartment. The deputy announced his presences and that he was there to do a welfare check. Documents said after he didn’t get a response, the deputy started to force the door open.

Documents said a man inside yelled, “What are you doing, get out of my apartment,” and slammed the door and locked it.

Deputies then forced their way inside the apartment and detained Scheel for a warrant out of Idaho. Court documents said deputies found a knife on Scheel.

Investigators then found Hernandez dead in a small room near the front door, covered in a blanket.

Court documents said Hernandez had a large injury to her neck and there were large blood stains in multiple areas of the apartment.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner said Hernandez died from multiple stab wounds.

Scheel had several scratches and abrasions to his upper torso and face, documents said. Scheel told police he was concerned for his safety inside the jail and admitted his use of meth contributed to paranoia, documents said.

Investigators learned on March 11, Hernandez called law enforcement after she found another woman in her apartment. The victim said the woman told her Scheel was trading drugs for sex with her, documents said.

Hernandez said she had been arguing with Scheel about his drug use and he fled in her car. Documents said Hernandez told 911 that her boyfriend “grabbed her neck” when she called them.

On Feb. 23, court documents said police talked to Hernandez, and gave her information about domestic violence resources due to issues with her relationship with Scheel.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you're not alone. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. In the Spokane area, you can contact Lutheran Community Services at 509-747-8224.

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