Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Interview With a Private Eye, Part II: Green River Revelations

More Than One ‘Green River’ Killer?

CL: Did you find anything out that people didn’t know about before?

DS: Lots. One thing we found from the discovery was that one of the killers, we think we knew who that was and this person traveled across the the United States on the main freeways. I think 90, 80, 70, 40 every place that there was a town, or river, or truck stop, or you know whatever gas station called Green River anything, there was a body found over the period of a few years.

CL: A totally different person, not Ridgway, had done it?

DS: Yes, this was not Ridgway—he wasn’t a big traveler—he didn’t go very far. We started noticing this pattern and we starting making maps with these little green dots throughout western United States, it went all the way out to Utah then further, and then we found them down south in LA, you know we found them down south and everywhere there was a Green River anything during the period of four or five years there was a body found and it was usually a hitchhiker, prostitute, whatever. Dumped. And so one of my jobs was to contact the detectives on these cases to see what they knew about it, if they were solved.  And we learned there that not only were not solved for the most part but they never even made the connection to the Green River Killer; whether the Green River Task Force even ever knew about it, I don’t know. But when I met with this particular suspect I had in these cases I figured out it was probably an interstate truck driver because of the pattern of where these bodies were. We got this man’s trucking records and I went to see him. He was in prison in Salem and at one point he informed me that I’m the only one that had figured it out.

CL: So he had already been convicted for something?

Keith Hunter Jesperson. Police photo.

DS: He’d been convicted for eight other murders that were not these.
(Edit: Keith Hunter Jesperson)

DS: He just said that I was the only one that figured it out.  He also claimed to me that he had 166 victims under his belt; he was only convicted of eight.

CL: Usually you are just investigating the murders that the person is charged with. This was different.

DS: It’s not the usual thing you do in a defense case, we were basically investigating murders as opposed to investigating a defense for Ridgway. But once he pled, we were cut out completely, so we don’t know. I was so depressed, I didn’t even look to see who he pled to, quite frankly. But I do know that he tried to pleato a murder that—we knew—that I knew he didn’t do. So did a detective from the other side: I know damn well he didn’t kill that woman, because I think I know who did. This was actually a cop.

CL: Really?

DS: Still is a cop. I’m almost sure that’s who killed that one
woman that he tried to plea to. And the Green River Task Force lead detective refused to allow him to plead to that case. Because the detective from those days knew. Because he didn’t do this case, the MO was different. Ridgway did not know the MO was different. Very few people knew the MO was different, including our attorneys. I already investigated that case years ago, years before. So I knew the MO didn’t match Gary Ridgway.

Prime Suspect William J. Stevens

CL: I remember you talking about a guy named William J. Stevens who was originally on the suspects list.

DS: Oh yeah, that was one of their main suspects. He lived in Spokane but he went to the University of Washington and had about five or six degrees, I mean this man was not a stupid person. But he also lived in Portland and we found several bodies down in Portland that matched the same descriptions as up here. I think there were 16 in Portland and there were several in Spokane also and none of these had ever been solved. We found his home in Portland and we found a woman and we interviewed her who had dated this man who was a next-door neighbor. She told us this horror story about the basement where he took her down to show her something, she went to the bathroom and found that there was no way out of the bathroom once you were inside. She then told us there was a hidden room in that basement. So we tracked down the current owner. In between owners, between the times he owned it and this new owner didn’t know it existed, the room.  But the one that we did find own it, we went down there and they had found the room and they cleaned it. However see they hadn’t cleaned it forensically so we wanted it tested but that was never done. We thought was one of his killing rooms.

The other connection we found with Stevens was to one of the Portland victims, a woman. He was such a suspect that his home and car was searched at some point, and in Spokane. His car was searched in Spokane and they found a letter that was in evidence. Which, I don’t think the police realized what it was. And it was a letter from a teacher about a little girl. You know, something about this little girl. And it was addressed to one of the victims in Portland.

CL: He had her letter?

DS: Yeah, he had her letter about her little girl. And I don’t think that was ever put together.

CL: You think he might have been his own series?

DS: He was his own, yeah.

DS: My opinion was that he was involved with this whole set of people. There was one suspect that we came up with that we thought was responsible for the Highway 2 murders. I think there were nine or 11 women found up there. Totally different than Ridgway. So, I always say there was more than one Green River killer. There was.

CL: In a sense of—one man serial killing?

DS: Yeah, there were several. There were several. And I don’t even think they were copycats. I think this is just the most common way to kill. The easiest victims are prostitutes and runaways. Hitchhikers and whatnot. The easiest way to kill women is strangulation. The best way to hide them is to throw them in the woods.

CL: Right.

DS: And that’s the only thing that was common. There was no hidden M.O. with the Green River victims.

CL: What do you do with this information?

DS: There was nothing to do; there was just nothing to be done about it. We had to turn everything over, back over to the prosecutor. And it never went any further than that. We’re not law enforcement. So, we couldn’t go and arrest these people.

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