Suspect Charged With Second-Degree Murder in Teacher's Death

Johnnie Lee Wiggins is charged with the fatal Christmas Eve beating of Woodinville High School teacher Prudence Hockley.


A 48-year-old body builder was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, accused of fatally beating his girlfriend, .

Johnnie Lee Wiggins is being held on $5 million bail.

In the request for the high bail amount, the King County Prosecutor’s Office described the attack as “extraordinarily brutal,” and noted that Hockley’s teenage daughter heard at least part of it. It also cited Wiggins’ criminal history, which includes convictions for assaults in North Carolina and Georgia.

According to court documents, Wiggins initially denied attacking Hockley. He later told police he went to her house to deliver a gift and didn’t mean "for anyone to get hurt.” He said when he saw another man leaving Hockley’s house, things just “went bad.”

Another man Hockley was dating was visiting that night, according to court documents. The 55-year-old Hockley stepped outside her home in the 300 block of N.W. 74th St. in Seattle around 11 p.m. to talk to Wiggins.

According to a police report, witnesses heard voices, then a loud thump; Hockley’s 13-year-old daughter went outside and found her mother unconscious on the ground at the side of the house. Hockley’s daughter called 911 and said that her mother had been pushed and was bleeding from the head. She identified Wiggins and told the dispatcher he was walking away from the house and got into his car drove away.

Hockley was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with severe head injuries. Police detectives were notified Dec. 25 that Hockley had died. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head.

Wiggins, a semi-professional body builder (links to a YouTube video of Wiggins), has a history of violence. In 2008 he was released from prision in Georgia after serving a sentence for assault, court documents say. He petitioned authorites to allow him to serve his probation in Washington.

In May of this year, Wiggins assaulted a community corrections officer in his north Seattle home, and steroids were found in his house, violating his probation, court documents say. At that point, Washington Department of Corrections notified Georgia officials, and Wiggins agreed to return. 

It's unclear why Wiggins was in Seattle on Dec. 24.

If convicted, Wiggins faces at least a standard sentence of about 20 years in prison. Prosecutors also filed an allegation that the murder was committed within the presence of a minor, the victim's 13-year-old daughter, which can be used as a basis for an exceptional sentence, up to life in prison, according to Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office.

Wiggins will be arraigned Jan. 12 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

Editor's note: To read remembrances about Prudence Hockley, click here.

Update, 12/30/11: In the original version of this story, Patch included court documents related to the case. After reader concerns about the content of the public records, Patch editors removed them.

Correction: Previous versions of this story mistakenly stated that Wiggins was on parole from Georgia. He was on probation.

Lauren Padgett December 30, 2011 at 01:34 AM
Is that his mugshot? Why is he smiling like that? Odd...
Annie Archer December 30, 2011 at 01:40 AM
That shot is from the Georgia correctional department.
Juliana Mock December 30, 2011 at 06:55 AM
He's an animal. I can't imagine who would ever, ever let him out of custody.


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