Wayne Adam Ford: The Remorseful Serial Killer
On October 26, 1997, a duck hunter was canoeing on the Ryan Slough near Eureka when he noticed an object that resembled a mannequin on the muddy bank. When he approached the object he realized that that it was the butchered remains of a woman that was missing a head, arms and legs. The hunter, who had a mobile phone, immediately contacted the Humboldt County Police.
When investigators arrived at the scene, they saw that the victim's torso had been sliced down the middle and almost completely disemboweled. Moreover, the woman's breasts had been cut off and there were approximately 30 stab wounds on her body. Because there were no fingers to fingerprint, head, tattoos or unusual features on the torso, investigators were unable to identify the woman.
The woman, whose remains were referred to as Jane Doe, was examined by the county coroner. The coroner determined that she was likely between the ages of 18 and 25, and had a dark complexion. It was believed that Jane Doe had been dead at least three or four days before she was discovered.
Almost three months after the autopsy, Jane Doe's arm and hand were found near a beach. However, the body parts had deteriorated so much that there was no way a fingerprint analysis could be conducted. Investigators realized that Jane Doe's identity might never be discovered.
In June 1998, another woman's body was found floating in the California Aqueduct near the town of Buttonwillow. The remains were taken to the Kern County Coroner's Office for examination. During an autopsy, it was discovered that the woman's death was likely caused by strangulation. It was suggested that she had been raped and murdered several days prior to being found.
The coroner was able to obtain the victim's fingerprints, which were given to the police for identification. That July, a print match was made. According to a Review Journal article by Glenn Puit, the woman was identified as Tina Renee Gibbs, 26, "a Tacoma, Wash., native who was working as a street prostitute in Las Vegas in the months before her disappearance."
Four months later on September 25, a woman's nude body was found lying in a roadside irrigation ditch off Interstate 5 near Lodi, Calif. Several items were found lying nearby that were thought to be connected with the woman, including women's clothing, a bloodied tarp, hair samples, a white plastic bag with the logo of a truck stop titled "Flying J" and some pieces of jewelry. Investigators hoped that the evidence would provide some clues as to the identity of the victim and how she died.
Fingerprints were taken of the victim and analyzed by investigators. The woman was identified as Lanette White, 25, of Fontana, Calif. She had been last seen by her cousin on September 20 preparing to go to the grocery store to get milk for her baby. Friends and family became concerned when White never returned home. The last thing they ever expected was that she'd been murdered.