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Sunday, October 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Florida police suspect boyfriend in killing of Spokane Valley native

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 20, 2018

Amber Wohlers-Christensen (Facebook)
Amber Wohlers-Christensen (Facebook)

At 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Amber Wohlers-Christensen posted a batch of pictures on Facebook. They show her two grinning children and her boyfriend, John E. Murray, fishing off a dock in Kewannee Park, an idyllic slice of nature within walking distance of their apartment in Casselberry, Florida.

“Such a beautiful morning for fishing,” she wrote.

At 11:11 a.m., Wohlers-Christensen, a Spokane Valley native and 2002 graduate of Central Valley High School, was pronounced dead at 33.

The police in Casselberry, a suburb of Orlando, say Murray, 29, admitted to shooting Wohlers-Christensen during an argument outside their apartment, while the children looked on. He is jailed without bond on a first-degree murder charge.

Her death has prompted an outpouring of condolences on social media and a flurry of angry comments directed at the man suspected of killing her.

Victoria Moberg, who went to church with Wohlers-Christensen in Spokane Valley, said “she was loved by all and her light will never fade no matter what this monster did.”

Lana Grytdal, a trainer at MUV Fitness in Spokane Valley, said Wohlers-Christensen moved to Florida about three years ago. A few years before that, she said, Wohlers-Christensen started going to the gym, lost 100 pounds and eventually became a popular Zumba instructor herself.

“She was amazing,” Grytdal said. “We had a 59-person studio and she would just pack it out every time. They loved her so much she actually opened up her own studio.”

Wohlers-Christensen had an associate degree from Spokane Community College. On Facebook, she called herself a health coach and entrepreneur, and she posted about Bible studies, diet plans and the joys of being a single mother. Grytdal said she was “very, very well known” in fitness and church circles in the Spokane area.

“She has a lot of friends here who are devastated,” she said.

Wohlers-Christensen and her husband separated after the family moved to Florida. It’s not clear when she and Murray started dating, but Grytdal said they met last March. In late November, the couple appeared in a video together to advertise a weight-loss supplement they were selling.

On the Monday before Valentine’s Day, she posted a photo of a present he had given her early: a GPS watch for tracking sleep and exercise habits. “So blessed!” she wrote.

Murray is originally from New Jersey. According to jail booking records, he said he worked as a recruiter for a health care company called Advantix Systems.

According to court records, Wohlers-Christensen called 911 at 10:59 a.m. Saturday to report “a disturbance with a male at her residence.” While police were en route, dispatchers heard what they believed were gunshots and Wohlers-Christensen saying “He has a gun.”

Two officers arrived at 11:05 a.m., but they were too late: Wohlers-Christensen lay motionless on a curb between a patch of grass and the parking lot outside her apartment, with at least three gunshot wounds.

Court records say Murray, who was standing about 10 feet away from her, tossed his pistol into the grass and threw his hands in the air as soon as he saw the officers. He did not resist being arrested.

Murray later told a detective he was upset because his girlfriend had been exchanging messages with other men, and so he began punching things in the apartment, severely cutting one of his fingers in the process, according to court records. He said Wohlers-Christensen walked outside, and when she returned she was on the phone with a dispatcher, saying he had hit her, which he denied.

Murray said he then walked to his car to leave, and when she followed him to give the dispatcher his license plate number, he shot her, according to court records. He started to drive away in his black Volkswagen, but then decided he would rather go back in the apartment, get another magazine, and kill himself too, according to court records.

A neighbor recounted what he had witnessed to the detective, and in a lengthy Facebook post. He said a few moments before Wohlers-Christensen was shot, she had run outside asking to borrow his phone to call 911. Afterward, the neighbor said he tried to check on Wohlers-Christensen while Murray milled around nearby. At one point, he said Murray pointed the gun at him and told him to “back the (expletive) up.”

The neighbor said Wohlers-Christensen’s 9-year-old son came outside and ran toward him, saying, “He shot my mommy.”

Earlier that morning, the boy had been standing on a dock in Kewannee Park, holding a reel while Murray unhooked his catch from the other end, and his mother snapped pictures.

Correction: This story was changed on Feb. 20, 2018. A previous version misstated when Wohlers-Christensen separated from her husband.

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