Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Green River Killer: River of Death

At Wits End

Following the discovery of Brockman, the rash of murders seemed to be diminishing. However, the desire to catch the killer remained a top priority for the task force. In August 1984 investigators believed their big break in the case arrived when two criminals in a San Francisco jail confessed to the Green River murders. After extensive interviews with the two prisoners, the confessions were determined to be a hoax.

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy
 
Several months later, the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy offered from his prison cell on death row to assist Keppel and the task force in finding their man. Bundy offered his old antagonist a rare glimpse into the mind of a serial killer, an offer that Keppel could not refuse. The two men conversed mostly via letters, where Keppel asked detailed questions that he hoped Bundy could answer.

Much of the information that Keppel received greatly interested Keppel and the task force investigators. Bundy suggested that the killer knew his victims, probably even befriending them before he lured them to their deaths. According to Keppel's book The Riverman, Bundy suggested that the killer likely disposed of even more bodies where they found the more recent ones. Moreover, he believed the disposal pattern of the bodies led closer to the killer's home.

Bundy was able to give unusual insight from a killer's prospective, much of which was helpful to the case. The information received from Bundy assisted the detectives in their general understanding of serial killer behavior. In fact, Bundy became one of the primary consultants, next to Douglas and Keppel that contributed to the build-up of the killer's profile. Despite this unusual advice, the task force remained stymied as to the identity of the Green River Killer. 

Martina Authorlee
Martina Authorlee, victim
 
Although the murders seemed to have slowly diminished, they did not cease altogether. Between October and December 1984, two more bodies, identified as Mary Sue Bello, 25, and Martina Authorlee, 18, were discovered. Both bodies were found off of Highway 410. The total body count had climbed to 31, although only 28 of the victims actually made it on the ever-growing "official" Green River murder list. Fourteen women were still believed to be missing.

On March 10, 1985, another partially buried body was found near Star Lake Road. The victim was eventually identified as Carrie Rois, 15. She disappeared during the summer of 1983.

In mid June, a man bulldozing a patch of land in Tigard, Oregon, discovered the skeletal remains of two more women. The remains were later identified as Denise Bush, 23, and Shirley Sherrill, 19. Both girls were known prostitutes in Seattle. The discovery of the two women confirmed the fact that the Green River Killer's parameters had extended out of state. It seemed as if a new dumping ground had been revealed.

Meanwhile, FBI profiler John Douglas re-evaluated the previous profile of the killer and came to a new conclusion, that there were two separate killers. Douglas suggested that, although the profiles of both killers were similar in many ways, the way in which they disposed of the bodies slightly differed. To Douglas, it seemed as if one of the killers went to greater effort to conceal the bodies than the other. Whereas some of the bodies were partially covered or buried in isolated areas, other bodies lay openly exposed to detection, such as those found in the Green River.

Although the theory seemed to be plausible, there were no suspects available that could support his theory. The case had run cold and no likely suspects could be connected with any of the murders. Pressure mounted on the task force for its inability to capture the killer(s) after more than three years.   

It was not until the winter that the skeletal remains of yet three more victims were found. The first remains were identified as those belonging to Mary West, which were found in a wooded area in Seward Park in Seattle. The other two remains were that of Kimi-Kai Pitsor and another unidentified white female between 14 and   19 years old. The unusual aspect of this more recent discovery was that Pitsor's remains had been located in two different locations. In December 1983 her skull was discovered in Mountain View Cemetery and two years later the remainder of her body was found a short distance away in a ravine.

It could have been possible that an animal dragged the skull from the body sometime after death, however there was no evidence that this occurred. The police believed it was the work of the killer. Investigators were uncertain as to the killer's motive for dividing the body between two different locations. They speculated that it was done to taunt the police or confuse the investigation.

In February 1986, the Green River Task Force seemed to get the break it had been hoping for. A man described by investigators as a "person of interest" was brought in to the police station and searched. The event received a great deal of media attention.

An FBI agent and Detective Jim Doyon of the task force extensively questioned the new suspect. However, before long they realized he was not the man they were looking for. Shortly thereafter the man was released.

During this time, the public became increasingly aware of the task force's lack of results. Thus far there had been several suspects taken into custody and each one proved to have no connection with the murders. Public anger and fear reached a boiling point. The media referred to the Green River Task Force as a joke.

Maureen Feeney and Kim Nelson
Maureen Feeney and Kim Nelson
 
To make matters worse, that summer the skeletal remains of three more women were discovered off of I-90, east of Seattle. The remains were those of Maureen Feeney, 19, Kim Nelson, 26, and another unidentifiable young woman. Feeney was the only one of the three that investigators were able to link to a career in prostitution. The number of victims was quickly climbing toward a staggering 40. 

Captain James Pompey
Captain James Pompey

By the end of 1986, the staff had been reduced by 40 percent and Adamson was reassigned to another project. Captain James Pompey became the new leader of the Green River Task Force. Pompey immediately began to reorganize the team and the data related to the investigation. 

Just as Pompey was beginning to get started, two more bodies were discovered in December. This time the bodies were found much further away than expected in an area north of Vancouver, British Columbia. Yet again, the killer seemed to be taunting investigators. Even more intriguing was that the partial remains of several other women had been scattered along side the bodies of the two women. Even though the bodies were located a great distance from the others, there was no doubt in the investigators' minds that the work was that of the Green River Killer.

 

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