Security Guard Will Admit to Murdering Timberland Employee at Workplace Before She Left on Business Trip

Catherine "Cassie" Heppner, who leaves behind a husband and an 8-year-old son, was known for her "big heart" and for always helping others

Catherine “Cassie” Heppner
Catherine “Cassie” Heppner. Photo: SGB Media

A former security guard could face a sentence of 55 years to life in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to fatally stabbing a woman at Timberland's company headquarters in New Hampshire, court records show.

On Nov. 3, Robert Pavao, 22, of Berwick, Maine, is expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder in connection to the stabbing death of Catherine "Cassie" Heppner, 46, of Exeter, N.H., as part of a negotiated plea deal, the Associated Press, Portsmouth Herald, and Union Leader report.

In 2020, Pavao worked as a guard for Securitas Security Services — which provided security for Timberland — when he allegedly killed Heppner, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.

Heppner, the company's marketing director, stopped into Timberland's headquarters on a Sunday to pick up some items she needed for a business trip the following day, court records say. Pavao allegedly followed Heppner into a storage room during her visit.

Robert Pavao
Robert Pavao. Rockingham County Corrections

Initially, a grand jury indicted Pavao for first-degree murder, alleging that he "knowingly caused the death of Heppner by stabbing her while attempting to commit felonious sexual assault," reports.

A second-degree murder indictment alleges that Pavao recklessly caused Heppner's death "under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life by stabbing her."

He was arrested on Feb. 9, 2020, after police responded to a 911 call about the stabbing, according to AP.

Pavao originally pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, but he recently agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a prison sentence of 55 years to life, with five years of the sentence deferred for 20 years on conditions, AP reports. He will be sentenced the same day he enters the plea.

If Pavao had gone to trial and been found guilty, he would have faced a life sentence without the chance for parole, reports.

Pavao's attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Heppner, who was married with an 8-year-old son, was "a force for good," reads a GoFundMe set up to help nonprofit organizations she supported, including Girls at Work and Outward Bound.

The GoFundMe asks people to remember her each Feb. 9 "by treating the world to a little bit of goodness on that day."

The fundraising page continues: "Call it 'Karma for Cassie.' Have a friend or family member you've been meaning to reach out to? Pick up the phone and say hello. Ordering drive-through at Starbucks? Pay for the car behind you. Go out of your way on February 9th to make someone else's life a little bit better."

"Like Cassie herself," it says, "it's the little things that can make the biggest impact. Use #karmaforcassie so we can share the goodness that has been spread!"

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