© unknownKathy Chou
King County prosecutors have charged a 22-year-old man accused of killing Kathy Chou with first-degree murder.

In charging documents filed Monday, prosecutors contend Ezekiel J. Watkins killed the 19-year-old Renton resident on April 18, 2010, then hid her body and evaded detection until his arrest last week.

Describing Chou's slaying as "the brutal and senseless murder of a young woman who posed no threat to him," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O'Toole claimed Watkins admitted to considering luring her to a secluded area where he could kill her.

Watkins, 22, was arrested on July 6 after an alleged accomplice admitted to helping him hide Chou's body the night she was killed. Her body was apparently recovered Saturday evening.

Chou was reported missing the day after she disappeared from her parents' home.

Speaking with investigators, the young woman's parents said she'd returned from a high school field trip earlier in the day, then left home for a walk at 7 p.m.

When the girl didn't return home by 9 p.m., her father attempted to reach her by cell phone. He received a text message purportedly from Chou stating that she was at Westfield Southcenter Mall and would return soon.

"Chou's father thought this was strange because Chou had never texted him before and Chou knew that neither of her parents knew anything about texting," a Renton police detective told the court.

Chou's father continued calling her throughout the night, but never received an answer. Police later determined that message and seven others had been sent from Chou's phone during the 9 p.m. hour, but that the phone was not used afterward; they also discovered that, contrary to earlier text message, the phone had not been near Southcenter Mall.

In the days that followed, police and King County Search and Rescue volunteers scoured the areas where Chou was thought to have been. Detectives also contacted several of Chou's acquaintances, including Watkins.

Speaking with investigators one nine days after Chou disappeared, Watkins said they had dated previously but had broken up months before. He provided an alibi, a friend who told police Watkins had spent the night in question at his home.

The investigation continued for more than a year without substantial progress. Then, on June 23, investigators spoke with a man who claimed Watkins showed up at his house covered in blood and dirt at 11 p.m. the night Chou disappeared.

Watkins told the man he had crashed his bicycle, according to charging documents. The man suggested that investigators speak with his roommate, Watkins' alibi.

Interviewed by police a second time, Watkins' former alibi changed his story, the Renton detective told police.

The man told investigators Watkins called him at 9 p.m. the day Chou disappeared, and asked to borrow a shovel to bury a pet duck that had died. Watkins picked up the shovel and left.

Investigators then interviewed Watkins on July 6 and allegedly elicited a confession.

According to charging documents, Watkins said he stabbed Chou to death, then buried her with his alibi's help at a brushy location off of 124th Avenue Southeast near May Creek Park in Newcastle.

Writing the court, the Renton detective said Watkins told investigators he had thought about killing Chou for several days.

"Watkins admitted that ... he had been thinking about luring Kathy Chou out to the ... location and stabbing her because she had been causing trouble in his life by threatening his new girlfriend and trying to have his new girlfriend beaten up by Chou's friends," the Renton detective told the court.

Describing the attack, Watkins said he knocked Chou to the ground and drew a knife as he straddled her, according to charging documents. Chou attempted to fight him off and managed to cut him with the knife, but, according to charging documents, Watkins regained control of the knife and stab her in the throat.

"Chou began to bleed copiously from the knife wound and Watkins said that he held his hand on Chou's throat until he felt her getting cold and she stopped making any sounds or movement," the detective told the court.

Watkins and his alibi then dug a shallow grave and placed Chou's body in it, according to charging documents. Watkins allegedly admitted to breaking the dead young woman's legs so that she would fit in the hole.

According to charging documents, Watkins stole Chou's shoes and had been considering giving them to his girlfriend. Prosecutors contend Watkins admitted to his girlfriend that he had killed Chou.

Having disguised the grave site, the men left the area, according to charging documents. Watkins' alibi allegedly confirmed the story with police.

Following directions given by Watkins and his alibi, investigators recovered Chou's body on Saturday. While the remains are believed to be Chou, medical examiners have yet to confirm that through dental records.

Charged with first-degree murder, Watkins remains jailed on $1 million bail and faces 28 years in prison if convicted as charged. His alleged accomplice has not yet been charged.