The Riverside Prostitute Killer
The One Who Got Away
As the killers body count continued to rise, so did the demands for justice. In a city not known for community activism, public outrage toward the faceless killer was vented in letters to newspaper editors, the Riverside Task Force and during community meetings. National media outlets began to regularly broadcast the case and at one point the television program Americas Most Wanted covered the killers crimes. In an effort to find the killer, all available law enforcement personal began combing the area. At one point the manhunt grew to include over 20 law enforcement agencies. Regardless of the spotlight upon him, the killer was undaunted and continued to elude identification and capture.
Kelly wrote that on the morning of April 27, 1991, a transient stumbled upon the body of 24-year-old Cherie Michelle Payseur, a part time maid and prostitute. The victim had been left in a flowerbed in a bowling alley parking lot. She had been violated, strangled and posed - a toilet plunger protruding from her vagina.
Following the discovery of Payseur, in a brief interview with The Bay City News, Lake Elsinore Detective Bob Creed defended accusations that the department was dragging their feet because the victims were prostitutes. Standing in front of a wall, which displayed the serial killer's handiwork: Gutierrez; Palmer; Ortega; Young; Ruiz; Lyttle; Angel; Leal; Ferguson; Miller; Coker; Sternfeld; Milne; and the latest, Cherie Michelle Payseur. Creed said, We don't care if they're drug addicts or prostitutes. They're getting the same resource level as if they were cheerleaders.
On July 4, 1991, picnickers near Railroad Canyon Road discovered the remains of 37-year-old Sherry Ann Latham, a known prostitute and drug user. The victims hand was wrapped around some nearby branches, suggesting that she was still alive when the killer left. Apparently, Latham had made one last feeble attempt to crawl away before succumbing to her injuries. An autopsy later revealed that the victim had been strangled and feline hairs were discovered on her corpse. According to the victims friends, she did not own a cat, thus leading investigators to wonder if her killer did.
Just when it seemed they were never going to catch a break, investigators got their first major lead on August 15, 1991. According to Keers, a man driving a gray van picked up a prostitute near the University of California. The woman told investigators that everything was going fine at first, but then the John became angry and began assaulting her for no reason. Luckily the girl managed to jump out of the vehicle and run down the street. The man quickly sped off, but stopped at a nearby corner and picked up the girls friend, a 23-year-old prostitute named Kelly Marie Hammond. Later that same night investigators found Hammonds naked body near the intersection of Sampson Avenue and Delilah Street. The victim had been strangled and her body was still warm. Investigators had just missed the killer they so desperately sought.
The woman who escaped the killers clutches was able to help investigators create a composite sketch of the suspect and his vehicle. Investigators quickly issued an APB and within hours newspapers and television stations were broadcasting the killers likeness.