Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Green River Killer: River of Death

All That Remains

Vernon Thomas
Vernon Thomas
 
In late April, Keppel spent three weeks going through all the information available pertaining to the murders believed to have been attributed to the Green River Killer. Upon completion of his analysis, he compiled a report for the sheriff of King County, Vern Thomas. To the task force's dismay, the report was highly critical of the ongoing investigation.

The Riverman by Robert Keppel
The Riverman by Robert Keppel
 
According to Keppel in his book, The Riverman, if the killer were to be found, many changes needed to be made. The report compiled by Keppel stated that most of the data, including evidence, files and witness accounts connected with the crimes were in total disarray. The first thing that was needed was a complete reorganization and accurate categorization of all the data. Then, once that was completed, similarities and dissimilarities among the cases needed to be identified in order to find common threads possibly connecting the murders to one or more killers.

There was no doubt that a successful and thorough investigation would cost the county a lot more time and money than they previously expected. Already the investigation was the largest operation in the history of the country. The amount of money needed to implement Keppel's suggestions would far exceed the estimated $2 million dollars. However, something needed to be done in an effort to stop the murderous rampages of the killer.  

Carol Ann Christensen
Carol Ann Christensen
 
On May 8, 1983, another body was discovered that was later identified as Carol Ann Christensen, 21. Her remains were found by a family hunting for mushrooms in a wooded area near Maple Valley. When Christensen's body was found, the killer displayed her corpse in an unusually gruesome way.

Christensen was found with her head covered by a brown paper bag. When it was removed, it was found that she had a fish carefully placed on top of her neck. Smith and Guillen state that the killer also placed another fish on her left breast and a bottle between her legs. Her hands were placed crossed over her stomach and freshly ground beef was placed on top of her left hand. Further examination revealed that she was strangled with a cord. Intriguingly, she also showed signs of having been in water at some point, even though the river was miles away. The task force speculated that she was yet another victim of the Green River Killer.

Authorlee, Antosh, Rois, Naon, Liles, McGuiness, Thompson and Buttram, victims
Authorlee, Antosh, Rois, Naon, Liles, McGuiness, Thompson and Buttram, victims
  
During the spring and summer of 1983, nine more young women, many of whom were prostitutes, disappeared. Those missing included Martina Authorlee and Cheryl Lee Wims, 18, Yvonne Antosh, 19. Carrie Rois, 15, Constance Naon, 21, Tammie Liles,16, Keli McGuiness, 18, Tina Thompson, 22, and April Buttram, 17. A majority of the girls were placed on the ever-growing list of possible Green River Killer murders. However, there were some who did not make the list because they were found outside of the parameters where the Green River Killer was known to dump many of the bodies.

That summer, several more bodies were discovered. In June, the unidentified remains, which were believed to be of a 17   to 19-year-old white woman was found on SW Tualatin Road. On August 11, the body of missing Shawnda Summers was discovered near the Sea-Tac Airport. One day later the remains of another body, which remained unidentified, was found at the Sea-Tac Airport North site. The fall and winter of 1983 would also yield as many disappearances and even more corpses.

Abernathy, Feeney, Osborn, Yates, Bello, Avent, Plager and Nelson, victims
Abernathy, Feeney, Osborn, Yates, Bello, Avent, Plager and Nelson, victims
 
Between September and December of 1983, nine more women went missing and seven bodies were discovered, all of whom were believed to have been abducted and murdered by the Green River Killer. The missing women, who were mostly prostitutes, included Debbie Abernathy,26, Tracy Ann Winston, 19, Patricia Osborn and Maureen Feeney, Mary Sue Bello, 25, Pammy Avent, 16,   Delise Plager, 22,   Kim Nelson, 26, and Lisa Lorraine Yates.

Those whose bodies were discovered included Delores Williams, 17, who had gone missing March 8, 1983. Her remains were discovered on September 18 at Star Lake. That same day, the remains of Gail Matthews, 23, were also discovered at Star Lake.

Over the next few months, the bodies of five more women were discovered.

On October 15, the skeletal remains of Yvonne Antosh, who was last seen on May 31, was found near Soos Creek on Auburn-Black Diamond Road. She was one of the few victims to have had a missing person's report filed on her. Twelve days later, the partially buried skeleton of Constance Naon was found in an area south of Sea-Tac Airport.

Kelly Ware, victim
Kelly Ware, victim

The task force investigators believed that there were probably more bodies to be found in that area, so they decided to conduct a search with the assistance of a team of teenaged Explorer Boy Scouts. On October 29, during a sweep of the empty lots surrounding the airport, one of the scouts found a skeleton covered with trash beneath some bushes. The remains were later identified as Kelly Ware, 22.     

The killer's deadly rampage claimed two more victims whose bodies were discovered before the New Year. On November 13, following an extensive search of several lots surrounding an area south of Sea-Tac near South 192nd Street, the badly decomposed remains of Mary Meehan and her unborn baby were found. According to the Cold Serial Web site , Meehan and her child were the only victims attributed to the Green River Killer, who were fully buried. Several unexplainable items were found on or close to the body, including two small pieces of plastic, a large clump of hair near the pubic region of the body, a patch of skin attached to the skull, which contained fibers on it, three small bones, two halved yellow pencils and clear plastic tubing.

One month later, on December 15, the skull of Kimi-Kai Pitsor was found in Auburn, Washington, near Mountain View Cemetery. It seemed as if the killer found a new burial site to place his victims. It would be the fifth known "dumping ground" used for the disposal of the bodies.

Two weeks following Pitsor's discovery, the Green River Task Force increased by more than half, due to the increasing number of murders in the area. It was feared many more murders would occur in the coming months. Their predictions would prove to be correct.

Although the "official" count of Green River victims was estimated at this time to be 11 or 12, the number has been and continues to be challenged. The precise number to this day remains unclear and it is believed to be much higher than initially estimated. Near the final months of 1983, there were approximately 18 bodies discovered in the Seattle region.  Many victims were not included on the list, even though they were killed in very nearly the same fashion as the other victims. There was no explanation given as to why the women were excluded from the list.

 

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