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LEWISTON TRIBUNE

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UNSOLVED MURDERS THAT REMAIN MYSTERIES A special publication of

THE VICTIMS Hazel Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 2 Christina White . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Ricky Barnett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Joyce LePage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Kristina Nelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Brandi Miller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Steven Pearsall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Pamela D. Bennett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Kristin David . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Janice Lynn Foiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Toni Ann Tedder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Jason Goddard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Daniel Walker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Gayla Schaper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Bruce and Lynn Peeples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Wil Hendrick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Patty Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Mr. Bonesy and John Doe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Mr. Bones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 ———

Unsolved crimes also victimize communities

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he names contained in these pages aren’t the only victims of the heinous crimes that were committed against them. They also represent the parents, spouses, siblings, friends and acquaintances who were left without answers — or any semblance of closure — following their deaths, whether confirmed or presumed. Many of these stories have haunted us for years. Growing up in Lewiston, I vividly remember when many of the crimes happened or were discovered. The unknown — or unproven — perpetrators committed more than grisly acts. They stole our sense of security, and turned bucolic communities into places where people no longer left their doors and windows unlocked at night, or let their children Commentary roam freely throughout their own neighborhoods. We’ve managed to regroup and recover over time, but continue to be wary and vigilant knowing the responsible parties remain unpunished. The men and women who investigated these cases, and still do so despite the years and decades that have passed, want nothing more than to solve them. They want to give the loved ones who remain the answers they deserve; to bring the criminals who ripped these lives away to justice. It’s our hope that continuing to shed light on their stories will help toward that end.

Doug Bauer

Doug Bauer is managing editor of the Lewiston Tribune. He may be contacted at dbauer@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2269.  ON THE COVER: One of the dozens of searchers looking for signs of Kristin David scours the brush along U.S. Highway 95 south of Moscow in this Tribune file photo taken in June 1981.

HAZEL MARTIN

Disappearance leaves a trail of frustration Detective describes efforts to help family of Princeton woman find closure as years pass with no explanation for her death in 1996 By DAVID JOHNSON and ELIZABETH RUDD

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OF THE TRIBUNE

RINCETON — Sheriffs have come and gone. Numerous suspects have been interviewed. Eighteen years have passed. And Earl Aston continues to deal with the frustration. “There are some cases that kind of stick with you and haunt you, and this is one of them,” Aston said last month. Aston, a detective with the Latah County Sheriff ’s Office, is one of the few law enforcement people to work the Hazel Martin murder case from its benign beginning, through the grisly discovery of her remains and into the uncertain future. “There are a lot of cases that don’t get solved,” Aston said in 2009. “But they aren’t homicides. You’ve got family

out there hurting for closure, and you can’t give it to them. It wrenches you.” Members of Martin’s family continue to hurt for the loss of the woman who her granddaughter recently described as “the hub” of their family. The questions they had then about the night she went missing remain unanswered. “You could ask any of us, it’s just like yesterday. It just doesn’t go away,” said Paula Frazier, one of Martin’s granddaughters. Frazier, who once resided in the house next to Martin’s, said her family tried everything to figure out what happened and why someone even went to Martin’s house that night. “Nothing was ever missing, but her,” she recalled.

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n the evening of May 18, 1996, nearly 24 hours after Martin, 73, was last seen, her house was cordoned off with yellow crime-scene tape. A

bloodhound combed the yard for scents. Family members, after finding the modest home empty earlier in the day, had left to make room for sheriff ’s deputies to probe for clues to explain the disappearance. “She was a missing person at that point,” recalled Aston, who was out of town when the case started, but returned days later to become part of a massive search effort that lasted just short of one year. But Frazier said she and her family knew her grandmother wasn’t just missing. When they found Martin’s house empty, nothing seemed right. The bed was unmade, her house coat and slippers were missing, and the outfit she wore out to play cards the night before was hanging in her closet. “She was home in her pajamas and disrupted somehow,” she said. Frazier remembered how, at the time, her family thought they had to wait 24 hours to report someone


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LEWISTON TRIBUNE of Princeton in a cluster of houses known as Hampton. Her house, which has since been sold out of her estate, remains nestled next to State Highway 6. It was along the route that Martin is thought to have returned home, probably on foot, from an evening card party at the Princeton Grange Hall. Frazier said she was supposed to drop off her grandmother’s newspaper at 3 that next morning, but because it was pouring rain she held off. Her sister went to the home later and found Martin gone. The family officially reported her missing a few hours later. There were little or no signs of a struggle, but Frazier said her grandmother’s mattress was wet with something. “The house was a pretty clean crime scene,” Aston said in 2009. Martin’s purse and glasses had been left behind. “Then they found the sheets and pillow case up by the river.”

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Latah County Sheriff’s Dectective Earl Aston reviews the extensive files for the Hazel Martin case. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO/STEVE HANKS

missing. When they learned that wasn’t the case, she said they immediately notified the sheriff ’s office. “We spent a ton of time the following year out in the woods looking,” Aston said. And then, on May 5, 1997, two mushroom hunters found evidence to confirm what everyone feared — Martin was dead. “A skull, jawbone and denture,” Aston said of the discovery. Pathologists confirmed the remains to be Martin’s. Further search of a remote area along White Pine Drive, about 12 miles from Martin’s home,

turned up one of her leg bones. “There was nothing to indicate the body was dismembered by anything, other than predators and natural decomposition,” Aston said. But there were unconfirmed reports the skull showed evidence of trauma.

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don’t think that’s ever been released,” Aston said today, declining further comment while explaining that details of Martin’s death must be kept secret to ensure integrity of the case. Martin’s family has since buried the woman’s partial remains, but Frazier

said the mystery of the night she disappeared and not knowing who is responsible constantly nags them. “I don’t think a day goes by that we don’t think about it,” she said. The sheriff’s office has had persons of interest throughout the years, but Frazier said “it’s just frustrating because did they do it, or not?” Aston recently said that nothing has ever developed to the point where charges could be filed. Martin was known as an active member of this unincorporated community with the Ivy League name. She lived, in fact, just west

he discovery came about five days after Martin disappeared. A pair of slippers thought to be hers were also found in the area. A frenzy of searching, including the use of cadaver dogs and divers in the Palouse River, ensued. But nothing was found. Joe Overstreet was the sheriff in Latah County at the time. Like Aston, Overstreet was out of town when Martin disappeared. Overstreet’s lieutenant, Vernon Moses, was initially in charge of the investigation. Two months after the disappearance, Moses released a composite sketch of a possible suspect. Nothing came of the release. Eventually, the FBI was called into the case, as was a criminal profiler and at least one psychic, the latter hired by family members. Even when Martin’s partial remains were found, then-Sheriff Jeff Crouch was cautious about where the year-old evidence might lead. “Finding this kind of answers some questions,” he said at the time, “but it obviously opens it up to other questions.” The most obvious lingering question (other than who’s responsible) is what happened the night Martin disappeared? “We’re leaving all options open on that,” Aston said. When asked a few years ago if he thought Martin’s murder was premeditated, Aston said, “I don’t necessarily think it was. It could have been a burglary that’s gone bad.” Perhaps Martin came home and surprised the killer or killers. “Do I think they went in there to kill her and see what’s in the house? No, I can’t swear that that didn’t happen. But I don’t think it did. Or did she come in there and surprise them, and then they think about it awhile, and this is the thing we’ve got to do ... then that would be premeditated.”

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Despite his use of plural perpetrators in past conversations, Aston said last month that’s another area he’s left open to a variety of possibilities. “I don’t have any proof that there was more than one,” Aston said in 2009. “But you know, they had to take the body out of there. I personally think it was more than one person. But that’s my personal belief.”

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s for motive, that’s a bit easier. “I believe it was probably a home invasion for financial gain,” Aston said. But, Aston said last month, he’s not going to narrow the scope of possibility to just that. Even the local newspaper carrier was questioned during early stages of the investigation, Aston said. There were also reports about someone making a jailhouse confession, and then recanting. Rumors of a prime suspect dying surfaced during the years after Martin’s remains were found. And there was some grousing about authorities botching the investigation by not taking her disappearance seriously in the beginning. “It was just a fiasco from the very start,” Frazier recalled. At the time, Frazier said her family did everything they could think of to try to figure out what happened to Martin, from hiring a psychic to driving and walking all over the place to find her and bringing in their own cadaver dogs. With each new sheriff, Frazier said she would call and ask if they had any plans for how to solve her grandmother’s murder. The most recent sheriff, she said, told her short of someone walking in and saying they did it, they were not going to solve the case. As for Aston, he remains committed to finding the answers. The detective said even now, as time permits, he will go back and revisit Martin’s case file to see if it will trigger new clues to follow. But he admits time doesn’t often permit that with new cases coming in regularly. “Basically what we do is when we get a lead or a tip, we’ll follow up on it as far as we can and when that’s done, we wait for a new tip to come in,” he said. That’s the mode he’s been in for a while, Aston said, unable to recall the last time he received a new tip. The frustration from not being able to solve a very serious case still lingers, and Aston said he certainly hopes one day they will find some closure. “The books haven’t been closed on it and until it’s solved, they won’t be closed on it.” Aston asks that anyone with new information about the Hazel Martin case call him at (208) 882-2216. Rudd can be contacted at erudd@ lmtribune.com or (208) 791-8465.


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Lewiston Tribune

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Christina White

Holding out hope Asotin girl and her new bicycle vanished a quarter century ago. Until his death, her father clinged to the possibility that she might still be alive somewhere By sandra l. lee

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for the Tribune

n age-progression photo of what 12-year-old Christina White might look like today, at 47, will be on the sides of trucks crossing the nation’s highways. It’s a long shot, but no one has admitted seeing her or her new white bicycle since the little Asotin girl disappeared April 28, 1979, from the vicinity of the Asotin County Fair after stopping at a friend’s house to call home. The photographs on trucks are part of a cooperative program between the Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit and Gordon Trucking Homeward Bound Program, Asotin County Sheriff ’s Detective Jackie Nichols said recently. White’s photo may already be out there, she said. One person reported seeing it, but Nichols was told she would be invited to an unveiling for the media and that hasn’t happened yet.

perhaps fearful because of what she might have gone through. But someday, he said, a call could come and he would be able to reunite with her. Nichols said his longtime companion, Sharon Kaufman, told her that before he died he listened to a message Nichols left on his answering machine about the Gordon Trucking program. “Sharon said he was happy people are still trying to find the answers,” Nichols said. “When I talked with Gary about a search I was doing several years ago now, he said to me, ‘Well, I hope you don’t find her.’ I was surprised, but he said if you don’t find a body, they can always hope she’s alive and well somewhere, but for some reason can’t contact anyone.” Even believing, or hoping, she is still alive, he spent countless hours and thousands of dollars excavating sites where her

Photo courtesy of Gary White

Christina White was 12 when she disappeared after last being seen in the vicinity around the Asotin County Fair on April 28, 1979. body could have been hidden. Christina’s mother and stepfather, Betty and Mel Wilks of Genesee, also hope, but it’s been tempered by time. “Betty said she knew in her heart Christina was gone, and it was just some-

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n 35 years, the missing 12-year-old has never been forgotten, but Nichols’ employment at the sheriff ’s office brought new life to the investigation. She devotes any time she can spare from new crimes that flood the small department to looking at old, unsolved cases, particularly that of the missing little girl. It’s closest to her, she said, perhaps because of White’s age and the total absence of any indication of where she and her bicycle ended up 35 years ago. She also would like the parents to finally have answers. Christina’s father, Gary White of Orofino, died earlier this year still hoping, Nichols said. He told a reporter half a dozen years ago that he believed she was alive, perhaps with some kind of trauma-induced amnesia,

thing she had to live with,” Nichols said. In the age-progression photo done by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the smiling little girl with round cheeks and a wide smile has become a mature woman with an attractive, oval face, high forehead and hazel eyes. She was 5 feet 4 inches at age 12 but might have been taller as a mature woman, like her mother.

Christina White as a 12-year-old (at left) and in an age-progression image of what she might look like now, at age 47.

hristina had spent much of the day she disappeared at the county fair. She was unsupervised, typical of the small-town behavior then. She was riding a white bicycle her dad bought her for her birthday eight weeks earlier. It had distinctive wing nuts, about 3 inches wide, on the front wheels. She had been sensitive to heat in the past, so when Christina called her mom from a friend’s that evening and said she wasn’t feeling well, Betty told her to put a wet towel on her neck and come home when she felt better. When she didn’t call home again, her mother assumed she was OK and had gone back to the fair with her friends. The sheriff was out of town that weekend and when he returned he considered Christina to be a runaway. Even with that belief, her family said, he didn’t do enough to search the carnival or make sure no one there had any


M o n d ay, M ay 1 9, 2 0 1 4 connection with her disappearance. Neither was there a search of the home where she made that final call or any property connected with one of the people who was there that night. That person would become a suspect in two other incidents that resulted in three known murder victims and one additional disappearance. The three cases have been tied together in the minds of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley for more than 30 years. Each of the cases has, at least in some small way, ties back to the last person known to have been with Christina. Kristin David disappeared June 25, 1981, while riding her bicycle between Moscow and Clarkston on U.S. Highway 95. A witness reported seeing a man in a brown van apparently stopped to help her near Genesee. Her dismembered body was found a few days later in the Snake River between Red Wolf Crossing and half a mile above Chief Timothy State Park. David had worked at the Lewiston Civic Theatre. On the night of Sept. 12, 1982, Steven Pearsall was seen by a police officer entering the theater about midnight. He worked there and was going to do his laundry and play his clarinet. A couple hours earlier Kristina Nelson and her stepsister, Jacqueline (Brandi) Miller, left Nelson’s Normal Hill apartment to walk

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Nichols crawled out on the ceiling joists in the theater’s attic to look down into four open chimneys that reach from the basement to the rooftop. From there, she said, she could see something that looked like a rolled-up rug in the bottom of one. “So I got kind of excited about that.” She bought heavy line and large hooks and fashioned a fishing apparatus of sorts. What she pulled out was a piece of rug, but there was nothing inside it. “Apparently at some point they had used it to cover those open chimneys, whether for insulation or sound. In one corner, it had fallen in. It appeared very suspicious.” The searchers took down drywall to access dirt floors, dug and probed and took a cadaver dog through every nook and cranny. The dog didn’t alert to anything.

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Tribune/Kyle Mills

Emotions are still fresh for Betty Wilks even after nearly 30 years since the disapperence of her 12 year-old daughter Christina White in Asotin.

ichols said she wanted to rule out the theater because she doesn’t believe the theory that Pearsall was dumped near Miller and Nelson but was covered up by road construction that started soon after the women were found. She’s studied serial killers, looking at how and why they do things, she said. She’s always believed Pearsall came across something horrible involving the two women and was killed because of that. Pearsall probably wasn’t part of the fantasy the killer had built up around the women, she said, and the killer wouldn’t

“When I talked with Gary ... several years ago now, he said to me, ‘Well, I hope you don’t find her.’ I was surprised, but he said, if you don’t find a body, they can always hope she’s alive and well somewhere.” to a downtown grocery store. Nelson had worked at the theater, and it was on the way. They might have stopped there. Their bodies were found 18 months later on a hillside near Kendrick.

they may be capable of finding even older burial sites, she said. She searched the Lewiston Civic Theatre, one of a series of law enforcement officers to go over the former church. There were

so many rumors about dirt floors, rock walls — areas now closed off — that she wanted to see for herself. There also was the strong feeling Steven Pearsall’s father had that his son was somewhere in the building.

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he man who was at the house where Christina White made her last phone call, who had access to a brown van, who was active at the Lewiston Civic Theatre, also was in the theater that night. The suspect told police he left for awhile to go to the former Red Baron pizza restaurant downtown, but came back about 10 p.m. and went to sleep. He said he didn’t hear or see anything that night. “I strongly believe (that man) is responsible for the deaths of Kristina Nelson and Brandi Miller and the disappearances of Christina White and Steven Pearsall,” Nichols said. She uses the man’s name, which the Tribune has chosen not to do because charges have never been filed. Too many things connect him with the killings, Nichols said. “And if he’s not responsible, he wants people to think he is. He’s intrigued by being a suspect. Judging by things he’s told people over the years, if he didn’t do it, he certainly inserts himself into the scenario.” Nichols isn’t through following up on possible leads, all part of a web that she believes leads from one victim to another. A cadaver dog will be brought in soon to look at a site that still hasn’t been checked out. Those specially trained dogs have found scent documented to be 25 years old and

Tribune/Barry Kough

Retired Pullman Police Detective Randy Martz (left) and Asotin County Sheriff’s Dept. Detective Jackie Nichols look over decades of work investigating White’s disappearance.

have wanted Pearsall’s presence, even after their deaths, to interfere with that fantasy. “The killer would have put him someplace else,” Nichols said. It’s also difficult to speculate how the deaths might have been different or alike because two of the five people have never been found and two had been dead for a long time when they were discovered, she said. Nichols also has participated in several searches, either excavating or with groundpenetrating radar, in Asotin County where the suspect had lived or worked or had some connection. She has worked with psychics, including one who said there was a connection between the case and a young man who once made prank phone calls to Christina White’s mother. The man had committed suicide several years after the girl’s disappearance, and the property in question was close to the fairgrounds. Nothing came of it, Nichols said, but it was important to rule it out because even though there is a suspect, “I want to keep an open mind about other possibilities.” Even after decades, she said, “I guess the good thing is people are still interested in these cases, and there’s people still working on them. It makes me hopeful that we will still have a resolution. “Missing persons cases are just so haunting.” Lee can be contacted at city@lmtribune.com.


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RICKY BARNETT

Into thin air One minute, the toddler was seen wandering on an Idaho County dairy farm. The next, he had vanished, leaving behind no trace. Despite dead ends, his family thinks he could still be alive 30 years later

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BY KATHY HEDBERG OF THE TRIBUNE

RANGEVILLE — For more than 30 years the sweet, smiling face of a dark-haired, dark-eyed little boy has looked out from missing children posters and websites, urging anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of Ricky Barnett to contact

authorities. So it should be no surprise that reports of sightings of the missing 2-year-old — especially with age-progression renderings posted alongside — are a common occurrence at the Idaho County Sheriff ’s Office. “Most of (the reports of sightings) don’t even warrant too much of a look,” said Detective Jerry Johnson, who has been working on the case for about four years. “But some are pretty interesting. There’s constantly stuff coming in

Search and rescue personnel study maps as they look for clues during the 1982 se


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FAR LEFT: Ricky Barnett in 1982, when he went missing from his grandparents’ Idaho County chicken and dairy farm. LEFT: A computergenerated image of Barnett as he might appear at age 25. handout photo

earch for 2-year-old Ricky Barnett near Grangeville.

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about Ricky Barnett.” One recent sighting led to an Alaskan hunter who finally submitted to a DNA test to prove whether he was Barnett. The child disappeared from the egg and dairy farm about seven miles north of Grangeville where he was visiting his grandparents on the morning of Aug. 31, 1982. That day the farm had just received a shipment of chickens. Workers, including a few extra to help unload, were busy taking chickens out of their crates and putting them into one of two chicken barns. Other workers were milking cows in a nearby milking parlor. Barnett was playing outside near a hay wagon. His grandfather, Waldo McChoard, came out and saw the boy on his way to the milking parlor. The child started to follow him, but McChoard told his grandson to stay put. About 15 minutes later someone went to check on Barnett. He was gone. The family and workers began looking immediately for him, but when they could not locate the child, the sheriff ’s office was called.

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massive search was launched immediately. More than 250 searchers combed every inch of the severalhundred-acre farm, including sifting through the ponds and pig manure piles to detect whether the child might have been eaten by an animal. Not a trace was found. Bloodhounds that were brought in seized on a scent trail that led off into a field and then disappeared. Helicopters scanned the countryside. After a couple of weeks the official search was called off. Theories abounded, including one that Barnett had been placed into an underground adoption ring — possibly by his grandmother, Martha McChoard — and spirited out of the area to live with another family. Barnett’s mother, Judy Barnett of Ontario, Ore., said that the grandparents did not like her and wanted somebody else to raise him. McChoard remained under suspicion for several years, especially after an initial polygraph test came back inconclusive. But a follow-up polygraph years later dispelled that suspicion.

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Tribune/Glenn Cruickshank

etective Johnson said when Barnett’s father, Ellis McChoard, died a few years ago, his family found among his belongings a picture that had been widely distributed on the Internet of a hunter alongside a big brown bear. No one knew why Ellis McChoard had saved that picture but as they continued to look at it, they grew to believe it was Barnett as a grown man. “The sister called me and said: ‘I really think this is Ricky. It looks just like me and looks like the rest of the family,’ ” Johnson said. The detective began researching the photo and discovered the man pictured had been in the military and had been hunting in Alaska when he killed the bear.

Tribune/Barry Kough

Idaho County Sheriff’s Detective Joan Renshaw worked for years on the case near Grangeville. A lack of resources in 1982 hindered the investigation, she says. Johnson got in touch with the man, as did Barnett’s family, and began questioning him. The man denied being Barnett, Johnson said. “He said he knows who his parents are, he knows where he grew up.” Johnson became convinced the man was not Ricky Barnett, but the family was not persuaded and continued to contact him. The man initially refused to submit to a DNA test, Johnson said, but after repeated entreaties by Barnett’s family, he agreed. The test was conducted earlier this year. About a month ago the test results came back. “It said he’s not Ricky Barnett,” Johnson said.

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till, the investigation goes on. One previous detective on the case believed it was possible one of the temporary workers at the dairy farm in 1982 may have had knowledge about what happened to Barnett. She followed that lead for some time, but nothing conclusive was ever found. Johnson said investigators tend to fall into two camps — those who believe Barnett was kidnapped and is still alive someplace; and others who think he was murdered. Johnson continues to stay in touch with the Barnett and McChoard families and is frequently notified by missing children agencies of reported sightings. “They will call periodically asking if there’s anything or send referrals,” Johnson said. Usually the referrals are without substance “but other times they’ll say, ‘This is an interesting one.’ So there’s continual communication on that case. “We hope that there will be some resolution sometime and that’s what the family still desires to see. So you never know.”

Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@ gmail.com or (208) 983-2326.


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Lewiston Tribune

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joyce lEpage

A bright future doused At behest of her family, a third generation of investigators picks up search for the killer of a promising young WSU student in summer of 1971 By WILLIAM L. SPENCE

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of the Tribune

ULLMAN — It’s been almost 43 years since Bruce LePage’s sister was murdered, but he still has difficulty talking about her. Joyce LePage was a 21-yearold Washington State University student when she disappeared in the summer of 1971. Her decayed body was found nine months later, wrapped in a carpet and dumped in a ravine south of Pullman. Had she not been killed, she could have lived her life three times over by now. She would have been 64, two-and-a-half years older than Bruce. “She was a very friendly, outgoing girl,” said LePage, who retired several years ago after farming his family’s land near Pasco. “She was a profuse writer. If she were still around, I think she’d have been a high school or college English professor.” There’s some question about where exactly Joyce died, but the carpet she was wrapped in came from the Stevens Hall women’s dormitory. The assumption is that’s where she was killed. WSU officials say this is the only homicide — solved or unsolved — to have taken place on the Pullman campus. The search for her killer is the oldest active cold case for the university police, as well as the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office. It’s been handed down from one generation of investigators to the next — and now, thanks in part to her brother’s efforts, it’s been taken up by a third.

Bruce LePage has spoken with Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers and WSU Police Officer Jeff Olmstead several times over the last few years, encouraging them to continue working on Joyce’s case. When his father was alive, Bruce deferred to him, letting him decide how hard to push the investigation. After he died three years ago, though, Bruce felt the burden passed to him — and if whoever killed Joyce is still out there, he wants them found. “I wouldn’t be doing my sister right if we didn’t take another look at all the persons of interest and eliminate them to the best of our

ABOVE: In April 1971, three months before her murder, Joyce LePage poses with (from left) cousin David, brother Bruce, brother David, brother Steve and their father, Walter LePage. Bruce had just dropped out of college to run the farm while Walter recovered from a broken kneecap. photo courtesy Bruce Lepage

RIGHT: LePage’s dead body was found wrapped in a carpet stolen from Stevens Hall at WSU.


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administration degree there. Bruce started as a freshman in the fall of 1970. “We have a lot of family history in that area,” he said. “My mother was raised on campus. Her father taught accounting there. We all attended WSU, except for my youngest brother. For Joyce, it was like a home to her.” Bruce dropped out of school in March of ’71, after his father was injured in a farming accident. The family raised wheat and clover and had a seed cleaning and processing facility. He worked there, then took a job on another farm near Yakima that summer. When Joyce went missing, he quit and came home. The family was so busy with farming and the seed business, they hardly had time to deal with the issue, he said. They left it in the hands of police. As time went on, it became obvious that something bad had happened. “There were no dynamics at home that would have kept her from checking in,” LePage said. A Moscow High School student hunting for garnets discovered Joyce’s

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solved and solved quickly. That’s largely due to improved technology, he said. Students in 1971 didn’t walk around with cellphones. There may not have been a single telephone in an entire dormitory, and there probably weren’t security cameras in any retail stores. Investigators also didn’t know anything about DNA, so physical evidence wasn’t necessarily stored in a way that facilitated future analysis. The delay before Joyce was reported missing — and the much longer delay before her body was found — added to the complexity of the case, Myers said. It led to a multijurisdictional investigation, with WSU police initially looking for a stolen carpet, Pullman police investigating a missing person, and the sheriff ’s office getting involved after the body was found in the county’s jurisdiction. “That makes it difficult to piece together (today) what WSU did, what Whitman County did,” Myers said. The FBI was called in to help identify the remains and to determine a cause of death. Analysts found bone markings consistent with knife wounds, so the belief is that she was stabbed to death.

9

“That’s the least we can do for the family.” One of the biggest steps forward in the case, for example, came in December when a major suspect spoke with investigators and passed a polygraph exam. “He was interviewed immediately after Joyce disappeared and again after the body was found, but he’d never taken a polygraph,” Myers said. “He hadn’t been contacted again since about 1972. We met with him and said here’s how he could help. He was very cooperative and passed a polygraph. I’m confident at this point that we can focus on other avenues. That’s a big change in the investigation in terms of our focus.” Myers also sent some physical evidence to the Washington State Crime Lab, which had never been done before. He’s hoping something will turn up, although after more than 40 years he realizes the chances are slim.

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ver the years, some investigators thought Joyce might be an unconfirmed victim of serial killer Ted Bundy, in part because he was known to be in the Pacific Northwest at that time and because Joyce was attractive and

“It may have been a homicide or an accidental death that was covered up, but the FBI analysis suggests it was murder. Certainly someone had knowledge of her death.” BreTt Myers, whitman county sheriff skeletal remains in Wawawai Canyon in April of ’72. That helped the family find some sense of closure. “That was way better than not finding the body,” LePage said. “We were able to have a funeral, and friends could come and mourn.”

ABOVE: Joyce LePage as a student at Washington State University. ability,” LePage said.

J

oyce LePage was last seen the evening of July 22, 1971. Friends dropped her at her off-campus apartment around 10 p.m. She was expected home in Pasco that weekend for a visit. “The Tri-City Water Follies (boat races) were being held that weekend,” LePage said. “Joyce intended to come home for that. She also had a skydiving lesson scheduled in Moscow that Saturday, but never showed up.” On July 23, a Friday, a carpet was reported missing from Stevens Hall. It isn’t clear how long investigators took to connect the two. Joyce wasn’t officially reported missing for 10 days, and it was some time after that before police learned she liked to frequent the residence hall. The dormitory, originally constructed in 1895, is one of the oldest buildings on campus. It was being renovated that summer. She liked sneaking in to study and write and sometimes spent the night. LePage said his sister was in Pullman that summer to take a few courses. She’d recently completed her junior year and wanted to make sure she had enough credits to graduate the coming year. Joyce was the second of the five LePage kids to attend WSU, he said. Her older sister earned a business

S

heriff Myers first read about Joyce’s murder years ago, while working his way up in the department. After Bruce contacted him in 2012, he began devoting time and resources to the case. While he thinks the initial investigators did a competent job, Myers said if the murder happened today, it would probably be

“It may have been a homicide or an accidental death that was covered up, but the FBI analysis suggests it was murder,” Myers said. “Certainly someone had knowledge of her death.” As a first step in pursuing the cold case, he and Officer Olmstead at WSU put together a comprehensive case file, making sure they both had copies of all the available investigative documents and narratives. Then they came up with ideas on how to proceed. “Part of the process is just going through and making sure each person who had access, means and a possible motivation — if they’re still alive — at least gets interviewed and polygraphed one last time,” Myers said.

photo courtesy Bruce Lepage

Joyce’s younger brother Bruce, in a recent photograph. Now retired from farming near Pasco, he has assumed the burden of keeping the case alive from his father.

physically similar to his other victims. That remains a possibility, but Myers said Bundy is more likely a side issue, someone investigators looked at when other leads went cold. “There’s no real evidence he was involved or in the area,” he said. “It seems like any time someone was caught murdering someone on a college campus, investigators looked to see if they’d been in Pullman. There’s always a chance that it was a complete stranger, but more than likely it was someone who was close and in her circle of friends. The vast majority of people who are murdered are killed by someone who knows them and who has access to them.” Attempts are now being made to contact some of the other individuals who were in Joyce’s circle of friends. “It would be nice to bring this to a logical conclusion and hold someone responsible,” said Olmstead, who inherited the LePage case after WSU Sgt. Don Maupin retired several years ago. “I think that’s the ultimate goal for the LePage family and for all the officers who investigated this over the years. My worst fear is what if we were never even close? What if it was someone who slipped through the cracks, who was never identified or interviewed by the early investigators?” After nearly 43 years, LePage said he understands the difficulty of even identifying Joyce’s killer, much less bringing them to justice. “If we can weed the list down and show that someone did or didn’t do it, I’m good with that,” he said. “But it would be nice to have justice. Joyce had a great future ahead of her. Her life was cut off too soon.” Spence may be contacted at bspence@ lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.


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KRISTINA NELSON / BRANDI MILLER / STEVEN PEARSALL

JUSTICE OUT OF REACH Investigators have zeroed in on a prime suspect in what’s become known as the Lewiston Civic Theatre murders, but lack enough evidence to bring charges By BRAD GARY and SANDRA L. LEE

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OF THE TRIBUNE

hen people talk about the three disappearances that occurred the night of Sept. 12, 1982, they are almost always dubbed the Lewiston Civic Theatre murders even though there is no proof anything happened in the century-old towering stone building. And it’s generally accepted that all three of the people who went missing are dead, although only two bodies were found on a hillside a year and a half later, and police have been quick to follow up on any hint that the third person might still be alive somewhere. Among law enforcement, it’s also generally accepted that they’re pretty sure they know the killer of Kristina Nelson, 21, Jacqueline (Brandi) Miller, 18, and Steven Pearsall, 35. And most believe the same suspect in that case likely was responsible for the disappearance of 12-year-old Christina White from the vicinity of the Asotin County Fair three years earlier, the night of April 28, 1979. Opinions are mixed on whether the same person might also be connected to the murder of Kristin David on June 26, 1981. Recently retired Lewiston Police Capt. Tom Greene said he’s tried to keep an open mind on all the cases. The prime suspect in the Civic Theatre and Asotin case, he said, “is a weird person, and his alibi stinks, but I haven’t locked in tunnel vision totally that it couldn’t be anyone else. That would go against being an objective investigator.” The problem with the suspect is that even though he doesn’t have a good alibi, neither is there any-

TRIBUNE/KYLE MILLS

The Lewiston Civic Theatre sits on the edge of Lewiston’s Normal Hill. Although there’s no evidence the actual crimes took place there, it has become associated with one of the city’s more famous unsolved murders. thing to prove he’s guilty,” Lewiston Police Capt. Roger Lanier added. The original investigator, the late Capt. Duane Ailor, pushed for charges to be filed but prosecutors refused because Pearsall’s absence left an opening for the defense to argue reasonable doubt, former detective Alan Johnson said in a 2009 interview. Pearsall hasn’t been heard from since that time, but there’s no proof he didn’t simply walk away from everything he knew and loved. His name and birth date came up on a computer search engine a few years ago and two detectives went to the location to check it out. There was no similarity between that person and the missing man.

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elatives of Miller and Nelson have helped keep the case alive, Greene and Lanier said. Family members have contacted law enforcement agencies in the East whenever the suspect moves.

Kristina Nelson

Brandi Miller

Those agencies in turn have contacted officers here who pull out the old files. A few times a year an agency will call if it has a case with similarities to the cold cases. A former police chief, Jack Baldwin, brought in a group of retired law enforcement people called “Officers Without Legal Standing.” They pointed out a few possible avenues that were examined without success.

Steven Pearsall

Even nontraditional leads are checked out, tips that come from psychics, from dreams, or repressed memories, Lanier said. Someone “saw” something in a sweat lodge a couple years ago and relatives of Miller and Nelson organized a search. It was later called off, but with the idea of rescheduling in the future. “There’s always a credibility issue when we get those nontraditional leads,” Lanier said. “We

do get the rare bit of information, rare as it is. You have to go back and read the investigation. As a department, it keeps the information in the forefront.” Everything has been transferred to digital format, easy for anyone to access. According to old police records, Miller and Nelson, stepsisters from Boise, left Nelson’s apartment that Sunday evening in 1982 to walk to a downtown grocery store. Both women and Pearsall had separate apartments within a few blocks of each other. Nelson had worked as a janitor at the theater, a job later held by Pearsall. Police believe the two young women stopped at the theater on their way downtown. Pearsall, a former U.S. Air Force corporal who was active in the theater, was dropped off there shortly before midnight by his girlfriend. He was going to do Continued on next page


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LEWISTON TRIBUNE

11

PAMELA D. BENNETT

Was she killed or did she run? Clarkston woman entangled with big-time meth merchant vanished in 1998, leaving behind only theories BY KERRI SANDAINE

T

OF THE TRIBUNE

he mysterious disappearance of Pamela D. Bennett still surfaces in conversations at the Clarkston Police Department. When human teeth were found at Chestnut Beach a few months ago, police wondered if this could be a missing link to the 1998 case. It turned out to be a dead end, but investigators continue to look for clues and possible explanations of what happened to the brown-eyed brunette. Bennett was declared legally dead in 2007. Since her disappearance, police say she’s never applied for a job using her Social Security number, used a credit card or contacted family members. She was last seen by her family on Aug. 31, 1998. Detective Richard Muszynski said the Clarkston Police Department still has an open case on Bennett, who was formerly known as Pamela Colucci. She

would now be about 64. “We weren’t sure if she disappeared on her own, or if there was foul play because of information she knew that put her in danger,” Muszynski said. “We continue to investigate either possibility.” According to the police, Bennett’s romantic involvement with a large-scale methamphetamine manufacturer likely compromised her life and forced her to flee her Beachview Boulevard home, leaving the back door open. The trail leading to her whereabouts went cold shortly after her green Ford Mustang turned up in Tijuana, Mexico, in September 1998. The keys were still in the car, but Bennett and her beloved dog Daisy had vanished. Authorities said her car was wiped clean of prints. Bennett’s friends have described her as an energetic, fun person, who was an excellent rafting guide and a good cook. They held a memorial for the missing woman several years ago. According to Tribune archives, Bennett was positively identified

Pamela Bennett at a Pullman postal store a couple of weeks after she was last seen in Clarkston. In 2000, authorities suspected but never confirmed that she was spotted at San Francisco International Airport, when her former boyfriend, Ronald Reagan, was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency. Reagan, who was convicted of meth possession, died in prison without ever revealing whether he knew anything about Bennett’s whereabouts. Known as Joseph Blake in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, Reagan

was manufacturing large amounts of methamphetamine in an upscale house in the Lenore area, police said. By piecing together information, including other methamphetamine busts, shipping labels and receipts, Idaho State Police officials have identified Reagan as the financier of the lab, one of the largest methamphetamine operations in Idaho. In just four months the operation is estimated to have produced roughly $13 million in high-quality meth for sale to California, according to past newspaper stories. His story is woven into the reports of Bennett’s disappearance. On July 23, 1998, the Idaho State Police caught up with Reagan at a coffee shop in downtown Lewiston. They were acting on a tip that he had purchased large amounts of distilled water at a Lewiston store, an ingredient in methamphetamine, and loaded it into a U-Haul van. Reagan identified himself as Joseph Blake and gave them permission to look in the cargo area of the vehicle. Reagan had an espresso and read a newspaper before reportedly leaving the scene on foot with his cellphone. While police obtained a search warrant for the front of the van, Reagan disappeared. They believe he alerted his co-conspirators that

Continued from Page 10

some laundry and practice his clarinet. A police officer driving by saw him go inside. The “person of interest,” as the police call the longtime suspect, was at the theater that night too. He told police he was there earlier in the evening, left briefly to go to the old Red Baron pizza parlor downtown and returned about 10 p.m. He told police he fell asleep and didn’t wake up until about 4 a.m. He said he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Pearsall’s clarinet was still at the theater the following day. His father told police he never would have left it behind. An uncashed paycheck was in his apartment and his car was parked at a friend’s. Nelson and Miller’s purses were in Nelson’s apartment. Their personal identification, Nelson’s bicycle and all their belongings were left behind. Nelson’s boyfriend was supposed to stop by her apartment that Sunday night, and she left a note on the front door inviting him in to wait for her. Nelson’s boyfriend fell asleep and didn’t come to see her until Monday afternoon. There he saw the note tacked on the front door. He couldn’t wait, but returned the next day to find nothing

had changed. She later failed to show up at her job at Skippers, and he called the police.

F

or all the work that went into looking for them, not much happened until March 19, 1984, when a teenager collecting cans in a canyon below the JuliaettaKendrick Grade had his hat blow off. He

climbed down about 60 feet before finding the two young women’s remains. Their identity had to be confirmed through dental records, but a few clothing remnants also appeared to be from the clothes Miller and Nelson were wearing the night they disappeared. The pathologist’s report on their cause

authorities were on to the operation. Police discovered meth recipes and two-way radios during their search. Reagan’s car was found at the Motel 6 in Clarkston, just prior to Bennett’s disappearance. Police waited for Reagan to return for his vehicle, but she showed up instead. Police have said she was confrontational and didn’t want them around the area. She claimed to be looking for Reagan, too. About a month later, Clearwater County Sheriff ’s Office deputies found the abandoned methamphetamine lab. Bennett was about 49 when she disappeared from her home. There was no sign of foul play, and she appeared to leave everything but her dog behind, from medications to cigarettes purchased that same day. She had not contacted anyone to water her houseplants, which was uncharacteristic of her. “It looked like a normal house,” said Muszynski, who responded to the scene. “Nothing was out of the ordinary or disturbed. To my knowledge, there’s nothing new in this case. But it’s still open, and we want to determine exactly what happened.” Sandaine may be contacted at kerris@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2264.

of death was withheld, but Johnson, the Lewiston department’s lead investigator for many years, said there was evidence of trauma. There has been speculation that Pearsall’s body may have been discarded in the same area, but was covered up by road construction. The suspect agreed to a polygraph test shortly after the women’s bodies were discovered, but then backed out. He was questioned in regard to the Spokane prostitute murders for which Robert Yates was later convicted. Over the years, decades after the disappearances, different properties were excavated, looking for Pearsall or White. Now, after 32 years, the case, like the other unsolved disappearances and murders, isn’t closed; it’s just inactive. “Inactive means we’re not out looking for stuff,” Lanier said. “At this point in those we don’t know where to go or look. We’re waiting for that big break, I guess.” Gary may be contacted at bgary@ lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2262. Follow him on Twitter @bwgary. Lee can be contacted at city@lmtribune.com.


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KRISTIN DAVID

Shrouded in

DARKNESS UI senior was bicycling between Moscow and Clarkston when she disappeared, her dismembered body found in the Snake River soon afterwards. The case is not closed, but the leads have all dried up

I

By SANDRA L. LEE FOR THE TRIBUNE

t will soon be 33 years since 22-yearold Kristin David disappeared while riding her bicycle from Moscow to Clarkston. But even after all those years, the cause of her death is still carefully protected by law enforcement officials. They refuse to divulge everything they know about what happened after she died, before her body was found in multiple pieces in the Snake River below Red Wolf Crossing. Someday, Lewiston police officers said recently, there may be a break, someone may be found who knows those details. And then they will finally close the case. A few years ago, an FBI agent at Lewiston, Ron Miller, made a simple request: If someone mistakenly says how David died, please don’t print the information. It was a difficult case from the beginning. David disappeared June 26, 1981, while biking alone from Moscow where she was a senior at the University of Idaho majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. Her family, many of them LewistonClarkston Valley residents, reported her missing the following day. A massive search was organized, with volunteers walking along ditches and back roads looking for any trace of her or her bicycle. Eight days later, on the Fourth of July, a boater on the Snake River found the first of her remains, a headless torso and a leg, about half a mile below Chief Timothy State Park. The next day, more body parts were found, some nearby, some upstream about three miles below Red Wolf Crossing. Blood reportedly was found on the bridge, but law enforcement refused to confirm it was hers. Her bicycle was never found. A Lewiston Tribune reporter and photographer, both summer interns, were working

Christina White, 12, at Asotin in 1979 and three young adults in what is commonly called the Lewiston Civic Theatre murders are the work of one person. In the theater case, the two women, Kristina Nelson and Jacqueline (Brandi) Miller, and a man, Steven Pearsall, are believed to have been in or near the converted church the night they disappeared. Only the bodies of the women were eventually found on a hillside near Kendrick. But the man, although never found, has not been a solid suspect, according to officers. Those who believe all three cases are connected point to the prime suspect in the Asotin County and theater cases having access to a brown van. David also worked for a time at the theater and could have been acquainted with the suspect.

Kristin David holiday shifts that July 4. They came back to the newsroom late at night with stories of clambering over rocky banks in the dark, encountering rattlesnakes — and something more horrible.

I

n a recent interview, Lewiston Police Capt. Roger Lanier and Tom Greene, who recently retired from the department, said they’re not certain how the department became the lead investigative agency, given the multiple jurisdictions involved. David could have been kidnapped in Latah County, or it could have been Nez Perce County. She was found in Whitman County. Asotin County was involved, and the FBI. Early on, however, Lewiston Police Capt. Duane Ailor did a summary of the case and Lewiston officers began conducting interviews. “In law enforcement, there always seems to be a case that defines a career,” Lanier said. “I would bet Duane Ailor, who worked hard on Kristin David — and cops hate to lose — he probably took that to his grave.” Ailor died of cancer in 1997, the same year

ABOVE: A law enforcement boat moves across the Snake River, searching for remains of Kristin David in this shot from above Red Wolf Crossing Bridge. RIGHT: Scores of citizens turn out to help search along U.S. Highway 95 after David was reported missing while bicycling between Moscow and Clarkston. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTOS

he retired from the force. In the last 33 years, numerous detectives have headed the department’s investigative division. Each of them, and lower-ranking officers as well, pull out old cases when they have time, Lanier said. And almost every time a story is printed or aired, a call or two will come in and a detective will delve back into the file to see if it seems credible. In 2009, an update recounted the story of

a Genesee man who during the initial investigation said under hypnosis on the day David disappeared that he saw a man in a brown van with Oregon license plates apparently helping a young woman on a bicycle alongside U.S. Highway 95 south of Genesee. Soon after, a woman called the Tribune with her own story. It was the same summer David died, she said, and she was jogging on U.S. Highway 12 west of Clarkston when she was accosted by a man driving a brown van. He was persistent, insistent that she should accept a ride, she recalled. She didn’t make the connection then. She had heard of David’s murder, but had never seen the details or heard of the brown van until she read that story 28 years later, she said. No one knows what other stories or evidence might be out there, or how it might help solve the case. Evidence is still stored in a special cold-storage unit maintained by the FBI in Salt Lake City. It predated DNA, but given the conditions and the length of time, its value is questionable. Everything deteriorates with time, Lanier said. As technology advances, evidence is re-examined. In the David case, evidence was reprocessed by the FBI lab at least twice, once in the 1990s and again in 2008, Miller said. David’s case was one of five deaths that were prominent between 1979 and 1982. Some officers believe they were all connected; some believe David’s was the odd one out. The generally held opinion is that the disappearance of

P

eople also talk about the oddities, like the similarity in the three of the four female victims’ names, Christina, Kristina and Kristin. Now-retired Detective Donald Schoeffler of Yuma, Ariz., believes the cases were too dissimilar to include David. He said in those 2009 interviews he always wished he had been given the opportunity to interview a suspect in an unsolved Colorado case. He and a Whitman County detective did interview two other serial killers, Ottis Toole in Florida and Henry Lee Lucas in Texas, and came away satisfied they weren’t involved here. Detectives looked at serial killer Robert Yates of Spokane and Harry Anthony Hantman, who also lived in the Northwest, including 20 years in Joseph, Ore., under the alias Thomas Andrew Dorian. Hantman/Dorian had escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane in 1973 where he was being held for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. He was arrested in Lewiston in 1993. Both were ruled out. Time goes on. Many family members have moved from the area. The case, instead of being stored in a dusty box, has been converted to electronic files, easily accessible if any new information surfaces. Cases like this, Lanier said, are inactive, not closed. “Inactive means we are not out looking for stuff. At this point, we don’t know where to go or look. We’re looking for that big break, I guess.”

Lee can be contacted at city@lmtribune.com.


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13

KRISTIN DAVID

Shrouded in

DARKNESS UI senior was bicycling between Moscow and Clarkston when she disappeared, her dismembered body found in the Snake River soon afterwards. The case is not closed, but the leads have all dried up

I

By SANDRA L. LEE FOR THE TRIBUNE

t will soon be 33 years since 22-yearold Kristin David disappeared while riding her bicycle from Moscow to Clarkston. But even after all those years, the cause of her death is still carefully protected by law enforcement officials. They refuse to divulge everything they know about what happened after she died, before her body was found in multiple pieces in the Snake River below Red Wolf Crossing. Someday, Lewiston police officers said recently, there may be a break, someone may be found who knows those details. And then they will finally close the case. A few years ago, an FBI agent at Lewiston, Ron Miller, made a simple request: If someone mistakenly says how David died, please don’t print the information. It was a difficult case from the beginning. David disappeared June 26, 1981, while biking alone from Moscow where she was a senior at the University of Idaho majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. Her family, many of them LewistonClarkston Valley residents, reported her missing the following day. A massive search was organized, with volunteers walking along ditches and back roads looking for any trace of her or her bicycle. Eight days later, on the Fourth of July, a boater on the Snake River found the first of her remains, a headless torso and a leg, about half a mile below Chief Timothy State Park. The next day, more body parts were found, some nearby, some upstream about three miles below Red Wolf Crossing. Blood reportedly was found on the bridge, but law enforcement refused to confirm it was hers. Her bicycle was never found. A Lewiston Tribune reporter and photographer, both summer interns, were working

Christina White, 12, at Asotin in 1979 and three young adults in what is commonly called the Lewiston Civic Theatre murders are the work of one person. In the theater case, the two women, Kristina Nelson and Jacqueline (Brandi) Miller, and a man, Steven Pearsall, are believed to have been in or near the converted church the night they disappeared. Only the bodies of the women were eventually found on a hillside near Kendrick. But the man, although never found, has not been a solid suspect, according to officers. Those who believe all three cases are connected point to the prime suspect in the Asotin County and theater cases having access to a brown van. David also worked for a time at the theater and could have been acquainted with the suspect.

Kristin David holiday shifts that July 4. They came back to the newsroom late at night with stories of clambering over rocky banks in the dark, encountering rattlesnakes — and something more horrible.

I

n a recent interview, Lewiston Police Capt. Roger Lanier and Tom Greene, who recently retired from the department, said they’re not certain how the department became the lead investigative agency, given the multiple jurisdictions involved. David could have been kidnapped in Latah County, or it could have been Nez Perce County. She was found in Whitman County. Asotin County was involved, and the FBI. Early on, however, Lewiston Police Capt. Duane Ailor did a summary of the case and Lewiston officers began conducting interviews. “In law enforcement, there always seems to be a case that defines a career,” Lanier said. “I would bet Duane Ailor, who worked hard on Kristin David — and cops hate to lose — he probably took that to his grave.” Ailor died of cancer in 1997, the same year

ABOVE: A law enforcement boat moves across the Snake River, searching for remains of Kristin David in this shot from above Red Wolf Crossing Bridge. RIGHT: Scores of citizens turn out to help search along U.S. Highway 95 after David was reported missing while bicycling between Moscow and Clarkston. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTOS

he retired from the force. In the last 33 years, numerous detectives have headed the department’s investigative division. Each of them, and lower-ranking officers as well, pull out old cases when they have time, Lanier said. And almost every time a story is printed or aired, a call or two will come in and a detective will delve back into the file to see if it seems credible. In 2009, an update recounted the story of

a Genesee man who during the initial investigation said under hypnosis on the day David disappeared that he saw a man in a brown van with Oregon license plates apparently helping a young woman on a bicycle alongside U.S. Highway 95 south of Genesee. Soon after, a woman called the Tribune with her own story. It was the same summer David died, she said, and she was jogging on U.S. Highway 12 west of Clarkston when she was accosted by a man driving a brown van. He was persistent, insistent that she should accept a ride, she recalled. She didn’t make the connection then. She had heard of David’s murder, but had never seen the details or heard of the brown van until she read that story 28 years later, she said. No one knows what other stories or evidence might be out there, or how it might help solve the case. Evidence is still stored in a special cold-storage unit maintained by the FBI in Salt Lake City. It predated DNA, but given the conditions and the length of time, its value is questionable. Everything deteriorates with time, Lanier said. As technology advances, evidence is re-examined. In the David case, evidence was reprocessed by the FBI lab at least twice, once in the 1990s and again in 2008, Miller said. David’s case was one of five deaths that were prominent between 1979 and 1982. Some officers believe they were all connected; some believe David’s was the odd one out. The generally held opinion is that the disappearance of

P

eople also talk about the oddities, like the similarity in the three of the four female victims’ names, Christina, Kristina and Kristin. Now-retired Detective Donald Schoeffler of Yuma, Ariz., believes the cases were too dissimilar to include David. He said in those 2009 interviews he always wished he had been given the opportunity to interview a suspect in an unsolved Colorado case. He and a Whitman County detective did interview two other serial killers, Ottis Toole in Florida and Henry Lee Lucas in Texas, and came away satisfied they weren’t involved here. Detectives looked at serial killer Robert Yates of Spokane and Harry Anthony Hantman, who also lived in the Northwest, including 20 years in Joseph, Ore., under the alias Thomas Andrew Dorian. Hantman/Dorian had escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane in 1973 where he was being held for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. He was arrested in Lewiston in 1993. Both were ruled out. Time goes on. Many family members have moved from the area. The case, instead of being stored in a dusty box, has been converted to electronic files, easily accessible if any new information surfaces. Cases like this, Lanier said, are inactive, not closed. “Inactive means we are not out looking for stuff. At this point, we don’t know where to go or look. We’re looking for that big break, I guess.”

Lee can be contacted at city@lmtribune.com.


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janice lynn foiles

A crime of icy passion Young Moscow waitress was bludgeoned to death with a hammer on a quiet winter’s night. In the beginning there were many theories, but all the cops’ leads have since grown cold By David Johnson and ELIZABETH RUDD

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of the Tribune

OSCOW — The Tip Top Cafe was a typical small-town eatery in late 1969, with both sit-down and drive-in menus served by waitresses and carhops. And then, during the Sunday evening of Dec. 28, after all the customers had left and 18-year-old waitress Janice Lynn Foiles was preparing to close, a yet-to-beexplained tragedy struck. Foiles, a Moscow High School graduate and freshman at the University of Idaho, was found bludgeoned to death behind the cafe counter. “We believe this is an isolated incident,” Moscow Police Sgt. Dave Williams told news media after the killing. “It does not seem to be the work of a psychopath.” One month later, Moscow Police Capt. Robert Means was quoted in news stories as saying, “Our investigation has turned up several productive leads. We believe we’re narrowing the field.” This year will mark 45 years since Foiles died, and while the case is not closed, police still have no suspects and it remains inactive. “Typically on any unsolved case, we don’t close them,” said Moscow Police Lt. James Fry, who oversees the department’s detectives division.

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he Tip Top Cafe, located in what is now the Post Office Square Shopping Center at the corner of Third and Jefferson streets, went out of business decades ago. In its place, The Lock Shop and Headquarters Hair Salon continue to operate on opposite sides of a wall that divides what used to be the cafe. On that wall, a black-and-white photo of what the Tip Top Cafe once looked like hangs in The Lock Shop next to rows of uncut keys. “I think just behind this wall is where the counter would have been,” Gary Crabtree, owner of The Lock Shop, said in

2008. “Where the hairdresser is now.” Crabtree recently said the shop’s previous owner, Jeff Beckett, was the one who told him most of what he knows about the Foiles case. “Everything I know is at best third- or fourth-hand (information), if not more so,” Crabtree said. Headquarters owner Toni Latham has worked at the salon in its current location for almost nine years, and in that time she has heard a few customers mention the case. It’s not an everyday — or even weekly — occurrence, but it’s a story she’s heard several times over the years. “Occasionally, some of our elderly clients will remember back to when it was the Tip Top and they’ll mention that case,” Latham said. Latham said all she really knows about the case is a waitress was at the restaurant alone one night, “something about a hammer,” and the girl being bludgeoned to death. Police say a claw hammer was most

ABOVE: The Lock Shop and Headquarters Hair Salon are now in the space once occupied by the Tip Top Cafe in Moscow. The murder of waiter Janice Lynn Foiles on Dec. 28, 1969, at the small-town eatery is still unsolved. Tribune/Kyle Mills

LEFT: Foiles’ gravestone in the Moscow Cemetery. likely the murder weapon. Such a hammer, with one claw missing, was reportedly kept behind the cafe counter and used for small repairs. “And that (the hammer) came up missing and was never found,” said former Moscow Police Chief Dan Weaver, who worked as a reserve for the department in 1969. “So it was assumed by investigators that that could have been the instrument used.” The day of the murder had apparently

been a slow one at the Tip Top, with students home on holiday break and people getting ready to celebrate New Year’s later in the week. Foiles, according to newspaper accounts at the time, was said to have been found clutching the day’s receipts in her hand — a total of $17. “Looking at the crime scene photos,” Lt. Dave Lehmitz said after reviewing the case file in 2008, “it would appear that obviously robbery or some kind of sexual assault Continued on next page


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was not the motive. So that would more than likely lead you to believe it was a crime of passion. Obviously, with the multiple blows, too, there’s some rage involved.” Perhaps the work of a spurned boyfriend? “There were ex-boyfriends who were interviewed,” Lehmitz said. “There were other people developed who possibly had some type of motive. So there were numerous people that were interviewed on this case.” But none rose to the level of suspect. If the killer was a peer, he or she would now be more than 60 years old. “It makes you hope that maybe, on their death bed or something, they’ll confess,” said Weaver, who retired in 2010. “Things like that have happened in the past.”

every time a new detective was hired, they’d be asked to look into some of the unsolved cases. “But it’s been a long time since that’s happened,” he said, adding he doesn’t think much more will come of the case. A similar sentiment was expressed by Marvin Foiles — who is now deceased — at the time of his daughter’s death. “I don’t suppose we’ll ever get over it,” he said. Janice Foiles’ mother, Carma Foiles, all but confirmed her late husband’s prediction when asked about it in 2008. She did not provide further comment at the time, saying she and other family members have tried to move on.

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TONI ANN TEDDER

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s for the investigation, police say Janice Foiles’ murder has never been and never will be permanently shelved, until and if it’s solved. “All our cold cases have been looked at by other agencies, includoiles, who was born in Coeur ing state and federal,” Lehmitz said in d’Alene, spent two 2008. “This one as well.” of her high school years More than 15 years in Boise and her last ago, police reinvigotwo at Moscow High rated the case by publicly School. Her picture is in disclosing the murder the “Bear Tracks” school weapon may have been a yearbook, arranged alphaclaw hammer. betically among her class“And, of course, people mates and annotated with were bringing in claw credit for being a member hammers from all over,” of the French and Pep Weaver recalled. clubs, as well as active in None proved to be the American Field Service, missing and suspected the school’s foreign hammer. There haven’t exchange program. been any new ones “Janice had always brought to police in quite been a quiet girl, never some time, either. Janice Foiles taking much part in “If someone brought as seen in the school activities or datone in, we would still 1968 Moscow ing,” her father, Marvin look at it and still test it,” Foiles, was quoted as sayHigh yearbook, Fry said. ing in a newspaper story If the truth be known, Bear Tracks. almost two months after Lehmitz said, police know more about the case than his daughter’s death. “She was just beginning to come out of her they’re willing to disclose. For example, he said, the crime scene hasn’t shell and have fun in her life when been really described. this happened.” “That’s a piece you hold back, in Marvin Foiles and Randall Foiles, Janice’s brother, found her at the Tip case a person wants to confess, you Top. When she failed to come home want to be able to corroborate their on that Sunday night, they eventually confession with what was at the went looking. Their discovery, around scene,” Lehmitz said. 3:30 the next morning, was at least In Fry’s mind, there would be six hours after the crime, according to nothing better than being able to police reports. close out this case — and others like Around 8:40 on the night of the it — to provide the family with some murder, a Moscow police officer mak- answers and bring someone to justice. ing routine rounds noted that lights He said police would love it if somewere still on at the Tip Top, accordone with information who was maybe ing to press accounts at the time. But too scared to come to them at the that wasn’t unusual for closing time, time would come in now. and he didn’t check. “A lot of these cases, that’s what it “The lights were on and they comes down to — you’ve got to get believe she was in the process of closthat one tip that gives you the inforing,” Lehmitz said, “because it looked mation to follow up on,” he said. like, at least it appeared she was counting the till out.” Crabtree said police over the years Rudd may be contacted at would come into his lock shop to erudd@lmtribune.com or look at that old picture and ask a (208) 791-8465. Follow her on few questions. He was told once that Twitter @elizabeth_rudd.

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LEWISTON TRIBUNE

TRIBUNE/STEVE HANKS

Dianna Tedder shows her exasperation that no killer has been found in the July 28, 1990, slaying of her 18-year-old daughter Toni.

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Clarkston teenager stabbed to death in her home by an intruder on a hot summer night in 1990 it’s been sitting idle. I took a look at it when I became a detective four years ago. It’s a difficult case. All it would take is for one person to oni Ann Tedder’s come forward and this case could be parents don’t hold ripped wide open.” out much hope for Toni Ann was sleeping on the justice. couch when she was stabbed with a Their 18-yearfilet knife July 28, 1990, on the 500 old daughter was block of Seventh Street, where her murdered by an intruder in 1990, parents still live. Over the years, the and Jim and Dianna Tedder are family has come to the conclusion convinced they know who the killer the girl was not the intended victim. was, but the case remains unsolved. Toni Tedder The man they believe is respon“The police told us they have to sible for Toni Ann’s death meant to have more evidence,” said Dianna kill someone else and went to the wrong house, Tedder of Clarkston. “After all these years, I Jim Tedder said. The suspect was not arrested think we’ve given up.” because his girlfriend provided an alibi for his “I think they know who did it and chose not whereabouts, which she later recanted. to do anything,” said Jim Tedder. “I know that’s Evidence collected at the scene has been sent going to make some people mad, but that is to the Washington State Patrol’s crime lab in how I truly feel.” hopes new technology will reveal a missing piece Clarkston Detective Richard Muszynski said of the puzzle. the Tedder file is still open. “Throughout the years, there has been work done on this case,” Muszynski said. “It’s not like Continued on next page

By KERRI SANDAINE

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OF THE TRIBUNE


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JASON GODDARD

Mixed up in some

RISKY BUSINESS Video store robbery in 1990 appears to be the trigger that led to the disappearance (or murder) of a young Clarkston man who was running with the wrong crowd BY DYLAN BROWN

E Jason Goddard in a police lineup photo.

OF THE TRIBUNE

ven the psychic couldn’t find Jason Goddard. “This guy came out of the blue one day and said if he held ... a pin that he had ... over a picture of the victim he could tell me if he was still alive or not; where he might be,” Nez Perce County Sheriff ’s Office Deputy Kevin Messelt said. “He was up in (the) Wahas,” Messelt, the former detective on the case, remembers the psychic telling him. “It came up that somewhere up there is a woodpile, his body is there.” The psychic’s claims came more than 15 years after the 21-year-old Goddard disappeared on March 5, 1990.

Everything gleaned from the investigation indicated to police on both sides of the Snake River that the young Clarkston man had been murdered. But without a body and the two top suspects having obtained attorneys, Nez Perce County investigators were at an impasse when the psychic arrived at the sheriff ’s office. Rumors of a woodpile had circulated before. “We came out to look at it, and of course it was nothing,” Messelt said. “The only body we found was like an old deer or something like that.” Like many deputies before him, Messelt spent his years as a detective living with the frustration of cold cases like Goddard’s. “It’s just waiting for something to Continued on next page

TRIBUNE/KYLE MILLS

Former Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Messelt talks about the Jason Goddard case as he flips through binders of cold cases at the sheriff’s office in Lewiston. as a main suspect, but there is not enough evidence to arrest anyone.” For about a month after the murder, the Tedder family slept together on the dining room floor. Moving from their home was not an option. “No. 1, there was nowhere else to go,” Jim Tedder said. “I’m a career soldier and I knew through my own experience as a soldier, rather than run, you keep your familiar surroundings. We have a 10-foot fence around our house because the police can’t do their job.”

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“It’s our understanding the knife was wiped clean,” Jim Tedder said. “I think they did get some DNA off it, but nothing has been conclusive.” The crime occurred on a hot summer night. Toni Ann and one of her four sisters were sleeping in the living room, trying to escape the heat upstairs. The sister alerted her parents, saying someone had cut Toni. They raced out of their bedroom to find their daughter on the couch. The father of six saw a slice on his daughter’s arm. “Our bedroom door was 15 feet from where it happened,” Jim Tedder said. As they waited for police to arrive, Dianna pursued the assailant, who jumped out a window that had been left open because of the heat. “Dianna called the police,” Jim Tedder recalled, “and I called them again. It was probably only two minutes or so, but it seemed like forever when we were waitA police sketch of ing for them. She ran Toni Ann Tedder’s assailant. outside to try to find

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TRIBUNE/STEVE HANKS

Dianna Tedder leans on scrapbooks full of momentos as her husband Jim recounts the slaying of their daughter Toni in their living room on July 28, 1990. the perpetrator.” At that time, there was one policeman on duty, the Tedders said. Within a few minutes, their normally quiet neighborhood was filled with police cars. Muszynski

said the entire department, including him, were called out that night. “There were several possible suspects,” Muszynski said. “Everyone had their own idea who did this. One name did surface

he murder weighs heavily on the Tedders’ hearts. Their daughter would be 41 now. They remember her as a happy child who was athletic and intelligent. “She was cheerful, bouncy, and she liked people,” her mother said. “She loved sports and she was very good academically.” “There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about it,” Jim Tedder said. “Sometimes it hits a little harder than it does at other times. Christmastime has never been the same, for example. But we are Christians, and we know eventually we will see her again. She was a Christian, too.” Sandaine may be contacted at kerris@ lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.


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pop up,” he said. “Maybe the guys in their old age get an attack of conscience, but other than that it’s a cold case.” If the narrative that Messelt and his colleagues adhere to is true, an attack of conscience doesn’t seem likely.

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he account detailing Goddard’s alleged murder — what Wade Ralston, the investigator who pored over the file from 1992 until his retirement in 2004 once called a “cold-blooded assassination” — came in part from a person closely tied to one of suspects. The story began two days before Goddard vanished and $1,300 went missing from the till at Magic Video in the Lewiston Orchards. The informant told police the two suspects, both of whom were around Goddard’s age, were responsible for the burglary. Goddard’s roommate worked at the video store and it was believed to be his keys that were used to gain entry. According to a yellowing police report, when the roommate found out, fearing for his job, he went to Lewiston police. He implied that Goddard was in on it. Goddard was reportedly furious when he found out and said he wasn’t going to be stuck with all the blame. So he confronted his partners in crime and threatened to go to the police. Another witness told police Goddard had received a phone call from one accomplice the day he went missing. They argued, but Goddard eventually agreed to take the rap if he could keep the money. He reportedly agreed to meet the two men, who were about his age, out in the Tammany or Waha area. Before leaving their Clarkston apartment, Goddard told his roommate he would be back in 10 minutes. He never returned. Police believe Goddard arrived to collect the money and was shot and killed. Two days later, Goddard’s car was found at the Lewiston bus depot.

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here was no record of Goddard purchasing a bus ticket and none of his clothes or effects were gone. If Goddard, the spitting image of a young Kevin Bacon, was the narcissist people led him to believe, Messelt said there was no way he hadn’t at least packed a bag. Cadaver dogs were brought in from northern Idaho and Spokane, but no trace of Goddard was ever found. “The investigation went as far as it could go and just got cold,” Messelt said. “There’s so many open spaces, so many places up here that somebody could hide a body if they wanted to get rid of it — they’d probably never find it.” The suspects in the case have left the area and most of Goddard’s family moved away as well. His mother, Louise Jacobson, was last known to be residing somewhere in California. Though she never lived in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, Messelt said her son would have made contact with her if he was still alive. Despite everything, Messelt said there’s always hope. “There’s a good chance there is a body out there somewhere,” he said. “It might turn up someday but I don’t know.”

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daniel walker

The suspect slipped away Nez Perce County deputies have a warrant for man who most likely shot his cocaine cohort, but he’s ‘dropped off the radar’ Volland also remembers her brother’s drug use, something that started when Walker experimented with different substances in high school. But by 1989, Volland said her brother had tried to put that past behind him. He graduated from Washington State University with a degree in landscape architecture the year before and was looking to start his own landscaping business. “When push came to shove, he got down to the end of the college career, he had a portfolio that was miraculous,” Volland said.

By BRAD GARY and DYLAN BROWN

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ez Perce County’s list of outstanding warrants are in color, but at the bottom of the list, in black and white, is one that never goes away. Twenty-five years after Daniel Walker was shot dead, the prime suspect, Edward Leslie Hart, has yet to be found. Nez Perce County Sheriff ’s Office deputies found Walker slumped over in the front seat of his 1970 Ford pickup truck in the early morning hours of April 2, 1989, at the top of the old Lewiston spiral highway. He was shot multiple times. Both Hart and Walker were allegedly connected to cocaine and other drugs, which may have been a factor in the killing, according to the sheriff ’s office. Detectives paid Hart a visit at his home in Colfax the day of the murder. His inconsistent story immediately made police suspicious. They drove back to Colfax two days later with an arrest warrant for first-degree murder, but Hart was gone, allegedly bound for Mexico. The warrant for his arrest remains. “We’re just waiting to pick him up,” Nez Perce County Sheriff ’s Office Lt. John Hildebrand said. “But he’s really dropped off the radar.” In the two-plus decades since the shooting, rumors have placed Hart anywhere from Alaska to Texas. Someone in the South applied for a driver’s license using Hart’s Social Security number, but by the time the local sheriff arrived at the address on the license, no one was there. The FBI got another hit in Texas, but nothing panned out. “There was a rumor that he had died somewhere near the Mexican border in Texas, but neither us or the FBI could confirm that,” said Deputy Kevin Messelt, formerly the detective in charge of the case. “That was the last I heard of it.”

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esselt thinks that, after 25 years on the run, Hart, now 53, is still alive and probably had a distinctive mole on his cheek removed. He remains the only real suspect. “They have no doubts it was the guy we’re looking for,” Messelt said. “But without him, we got nothing.” Walker’s older sister, Karen Volland, told the Tribune in 2008 she too believes Hart is still out there somewhere. “I just can’t imagine this guy having to sneak in the middle of the night and hide,” Volland said. “His life had to have been

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Walker family photo

Daniel Walker in 1989.

Tribune/Barry Kough

The late-1970s red Ford pickup truck with a white canopy parked near the top of the Lewiston Hill. hell, which it should have been.” Volland was living in Spokane when her younger brother died, and remembers calling his home April 2 to see if he wanted to make some money painting her house. The phone was answered by an Asotin County sheriff ’s deputy, trying to notify Walker’s family about his death. “I can talk about it now; at least we know where he’s at,” Volland said. The family has a place to go to visit their brother’s grave, she said. She and Walker were among four siblings who grew up together in Spokane. Volland remembers her brother as a daredevil, and a “feisty little brother” who never got to realize his full potential.

is longtime girlfriend, who declined in a 2008 interview with the Tribune to be named for fear of her safety, said she also remembers the gift Walker had for his craft. “He planted his mother’s yard and designed it,” she said. “His drawings were just raved about by the professors at WSU.” A Clarkston city license for Walker’s landscaping business came in the mail about a week after his death, she said. Walker’s girlfriend also remembers her former companion as a “joker,” who would help anyone who needed a lift up. Walker also would do anything to help his mother, his girlfriend said. They often visited her in Spokane, and his girlfriend said Walker always compiled a mental list of chores around the house. “He was kind and loving and caring. He had nicknames for everybody,” she said. They met by chance, she said, and a relationship quickly blossomed that would continue until his death a decade later. They were raising two sons when Walker was killed. He did odd jobs, she said, and sold stoves to make ends meet. Every month he left Clarkston for his service with Washington’s Army National Guard. They lived in Colfax for about a year while Walker attended WSU, but returned to Clarkston when she became homesick for her grandparents. Walker completed his education, hitchhiking daily to Pullman for classes. And while he was involved with drugs, Walker’s girlfriend said he never told her much about that lifestyle. Both she and Volland remember the shooting as a shock to their families. Volland said she wants to know why her brother was shot. “All I know is that he was a very brilliant guy, he would have been, and his life was cut short,” Volland said, “and we don’t know exactly why.”

Gary may be contacted at bgary@ lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2262. Follow him on Twitter @bwgary.


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GAYLA SCHAPER

No body, no case TRIBUNE/STEVE HANKS

The last known location of Gayla Schaper was near this pasture along State Highway 8 and Lenville Road near Moscow.

Moscow-area woman disappeared without a trace from her family farm in June 1979 and all the top suspects have been cleared or died By DAVID JOHNSON and ELIZABETH RUDD

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OF THE TRIBUNE

OSCOW — There’s no crime scene. No real suspect. Little, if any, direct evidence of foul play. For that matter, there’s no Gayla Schaper. “She’s still considered a missing person, officially,” said Detective Earl Aston of the Latah County Sheriff’s Office, but it’s presumed she was murdered. “A horrible crime anyway you put it,” Latah County Sheriff ’s Sgt. Brannon Jordan said in 2008. Jordan, operations supervisor for the sheriff ’s office, last worked the case more than a decade ago. When it comes to cold cases within the Lewiston Tribune’s circulation area, the June 29, 1979, disappearance of 27-year-old Gayla Schaper may be the most puzzling. “When I came home, she wasn’t there,” Ken Schaper, Gayla’s husband at the time, said in a 2008 interview with the Tribune. When asked to resurrect the old memories a few years ago, Ken Schaper hesitated and said, “It’s just been torture on me, as far as that goes.” After all, Schaper was a suspect at the

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ayla Schaper was last seen, according to investigation reports, when Ken Schaper dropped her off at a pasture near the family’s Dutch Boy Dairy farm to feed horses. The site, just east of Moscow on Lenville Road near the intersection of State time of his wife’s disappearance. Highway 8, is still farmed. Schaper Road “Every spouse is generally, statistically, is also nearby. As is the former residence of a person of interest after an incident like the late Larry Hagedorn. this,” Jordan explained. “He’s still my person of interest,” Jordan “A long time,” Ken Schaper said of said. enduring the suspicions. “Until they had But Hagedorn, who died in 2005, also that lie detector test.” passed polygraph tests. “He Jordan and Aston confirmed surfaced as a person of interthat Ken Schaper has been est when his son, Bill, killed cleared. “He took a polygraph JoAnn Romero,” Jordan said. when we reopened the case in Aston confirmed the per1993,” Jordan said. “And he sons of interest in the case are passed.” still the same today, but said “They said the town owes they’re not closing their eyes to me a holiday,” said Ken other possibilities, either. Schaper, recalling how authoriThe younger Hagedorn ties apologized to him. “I said, was convicted of murder and ‘I just want this to be left alone continues to serve a life senand go on with my life.’ ” tence for the Oct. 27, 1993, And that’s what he did. shooting death of his live-in Schaper, now about 70 years Gayla Schaper girlfriend, Romero. While old, still resides in Moscow, has investigating the Romero murremarried and is the father to a der, authorities interviewed and grown son. tape-recorded an unnamed person, accordYears after Gayla Schaper was last seen, he was quoted as saying, “I just feel strongly ing to records, who said Romero was most likely silenced because of what she knew somebody abducted her ... and drove off.” about Gayla Schaper’s disappearance. Motive? “I talked to a family member of JoAnn “We believe,” Jordan said, “the motive Romero’s and she told me that Larry had was sexual.”

done it,” Jordan confirmed. “We had reason to believe at the time that Larry was our person of interest. He lived right across the street from where she disappeared. He owned an excavation business. He owned a backhoe and he was doing a lot of excavating on the property, burying trash. At one time, he buried a car.” Armed with a search warrant, Jordan and lead investigator Robert J. (Bud) Piel oversaw days of law enforcement excavation around the Hagedorn property, looking for evidence and possibly even Schaper’s body. But the probe failed to turn up any evidence worthy of filing charges. “We did unearth some clothing that was wrapped in a curtain, and some tennis shoes, a blouse and things like that,” Jordan said. “We actually sent that to a crime lab and FBI in Quantico, Va. But nothing ever came back that was substantial evidence.” As for William Hagedorn, Jordan said he was questioned while in jail awaiting trial for the Romero murder. “He was interviewed and he basically, when asked about Gayla Schaper’s disappearance, I think his words were, ‘I don’t want to get my dad in trouble,’ ” Jordan said. “And then that was it. He teared up and clammed up. And now, of course, he’s in prison.”

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o it’s been more than a decade since anyone locally has pored over the armload of ringed folders and files that speak Continued on next page


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BRUCE AND LYNN PEEPLES

Two fires, two deaths Grangeville pawn shop was destroyed in suspicious 1993 blaze; five months later, its owners were found tortured amid fire-damaged home the fire only smoldered.

By KATHY HEDBERG

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RANGEVILLE — Cold cases may remain stagnant for years — perhaps forever — but compiling all the known data into a national website always leaves open the possibility that someday a case may be cracked. Case in point: On April 4, 1994, C. Bruce and Lynn T. Peeples were found dead at their Grangeville residence; the victims of torture and murder. Smoke had been spotted coming from the house and the Grangeville volunteer fire department responded, breaking into the house to extinguish the fire, which was mostly just smoke. During the search of the house firefighters found the Peeples’ bodies in a back bedroom. They were lying face down on the floor, their bodies covered with soot. They had been beaten, tortured and strangled to death. An investigation revealed someone had piled shredded paper throughout the house and ignited it with candles to start a fire. But because all the windows were closed

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ruce Peeples was a man of small stature with a boisterous personality and had operated Uncle’s Pawn Shop on Main Street. His wife, Lynn, was known as a quiet, sweet person. Peeples’ business dealings were rumored to be suspicious and he had been under investigation by state and federal wildlife officers trying to determine whether he had ties to the illegal marketing of exotic animal artifacts. Five months before his death the pawn shop had started on fire and burned to the ground. That incident also was considered suspicious, although nothing criminal was ever proven. According to a police report, Peeples was having some business problems at the time of his death and had filed several lawsuits that were pending in 2nd District Court. From the beginning investigators had a primary suspect in mind in the murder case. Evidence was sorted through and people were interviewed but no arrests were ever made. Eventually the suspect moved away. Detective Jerry Johnson with the Idaho County Sheriff ’s Office said the case has

been inactive for several years and no one has inquired about it — including any of the couple’s relatives. Johnson did not know where the relatives could be located.

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ut since taking over the detective position at the sheriff’s office Johnson has been compiling all the known information about the case and submitted it to a federal database. “My main goal was to get this federal database updated on unidentified and missing persons, so now anybody can look them up,” Johnson said. That task is largely completed and Johnson said periodically he pulls those cases and takes a look at them to see if any new information or reports have been added. In the Peeples case: nothing. Johnson said he would love to have a lead on the case, “but even when somebody is just missing — where we don’t suspect foul play — we don’t forget those people. We keep kind of looking at how things are going, what other information do we need in the hopes that someday somebody will stumble across some remains and give the families some closure.”

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TRIBUNE/STEVE HANKS

Sgt. Brannon Jordan looks over the extensive case files at the Latah County Sheriff’s Office has for the Gayla Schaper missing persons case.

to the mystery of Schaper’s disappearance. “We sent the case (in 2001) to some cold-case detectives in California,” Jordan said, “to an agency down there that has a cold-case bureau. And they reviewed the case and had it for several weeks. And then they forwarded the case back with a synopsis that was basically pretty much what we thought.” Might Schaper have disappeared on her own to assume a new identity elsewhere? “I think that is extremely unlikely,” Aston said, although it’s not something they can rule impossible since she technically remains a missing person. “I don’t believe it at all,” Jordan said. “She was involved with her church. She had a stable home life. There’s nothing in her personality to indicate she was unstable or anything like that. When people disappear like that, there’s usually something traumatic going on in their life and their friends know about it.” Occasionally, Aston said he will get a notice from the national missing

persons database when “Jane Doe” remains have been found. He follows up on each notice to see if it’s her. “It’s been a while since we’ve gotten any tips,” Aston said. And nothing has ever been linked to Gayla Schaper. “I know that we had, at that time, some high-profile serial killers that rolled through the area,” Jordan said.

“Like the Green River killer. We called and checked on a few other killers who’d been arrested and were now in prison. We’d ask those detectives, ‘Where was your guy at about this time?’ ” But nothing has matched up. “There certainly was a lot of interest

in it,” Jordan said as he leafed through pages of newspaper clippings from the time of the disappearance, and again when the excavation of the Hagedorn property was being conducted. “ ‘Missing person may still be alive.’ That was in August of ’79,” he said, reading from one of the earliest stories. “Investigators: Puzzle’s coming together,” reads another headline from January 1995. “Sheriff ’s department may be close to finding Gayla Schaper’s remains and concluding the probe.” Jordan recalled the optimism of the time, and admitted to the disappointment that lingers. Aston said like with other unsolved cases, there is a desire to find out what happened to bring some kind of closure to Schaper’s disappearance. Anyone with information about the 35-year-old disappearance of Gayla Schaper is asked to call the Latah County Sheriff ’s Office at (208) 882-2216. Rudd may be contacted at erudd@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-8465. Follow her on Twitter @elizabeth_rudd.


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WIL HENDRICK

A party leads to murder

near Friendship Square in downtown Moscow with the keys left in the console. “We went through the car, and found nothing unusual,” Weaver said.

On a cold January night in 1999, a UI student went to a function but never returned. His remains were found in the woods 3½ years later By JOEL MILLS

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OF THE TRIBUNE

OSCOW — The last time Keith Hendrick spoke with the Lewiston Tribune, it had been 10 years since his son vanished. Ten years full of unanswered questions and deadend leads. Ten years of heartache. “You always say ‘If somebody ever did anything to my kid, I’d kill ’em,’ ” he said in a 2008 interview about the murder of his son, Wil. “We’ve all said that. But when the time comes, the hurt is so great, you don’t even think about that.” Keith Hendrick will never see his son’s killer brought to justice. He died last year at the age of 75. But the case is still being actively investigated, with a new tip coming earlier this year. “But it was nothing that was fruitful,” Moscow Police Chief David Duke said. “But as time changes, people do have time to reflect and maybe have a moment where they want to see if they can make a difference.” Duke and Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch discuss the case frequently, and are in the process of looking at the physical evidence and maybe resubmitting it to the state crime lab for analysis with newer technology. Rausch was a detective in the sheriff ’s office when Hendrick disap-

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peared, but was taken off the case by then-sheriff Jeff Crouch. “He wouldn’t let me get involved in it whatsoever, to the extent that he actually pass-coded the case file and I couldn’t even access my own reports,” Rausch said. “There was a long period of time when I was in patrol, before I became sheriff, that I didn’t even know where the case was at.” When he took the reins of the sheriff ’s office in 2004, Rausch said he was “absolutely stunned” at the lack of follow-up in the case. He still thinks it is solvable. “It’s not forgotten,” Rausch said. “It’s a cold case, but it is still being worked.”

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il Hendrick was a 25-yearold University of Idaho theater student when he disappeared in January 1999. He was classified as a missing person until his skull and jawbone were found by hunters three and a half years later in eastern Latah County. Investigators developed several suspects in 1999. But without a body or a crime scene, the trail quickly went cold, former Moscow Police Chief Daniel Weaver said in 2008. “The most critical part of a case is the first 48 hours,” Weaver said while recapping the case over a cup of coffee in the police department conference room. “After that, evidence starts to deteriorate and dissipate.”

Wil Hendrick So the investigation into Hendrick’s disappearance started the way most missing persons cases do: interviews with the people who saw him last. “It was a cold morning on Jan. 10, 1999,” Weaver recalled. “I was at the station for some reason, probably to pick something up. I was just heading out the door when Jerry Schutz came in. He said, ‘Hey, my partner is missing.’ ” Hendrick had been at a party

the night before at an apartment on C Street. But Schutz said he never made it back to their home in a trailer court just north of town. Schutz was worried that Hendrick had gotten drunk, cut across some fields and fallen in a ditch, Weaver said. Schutz and some friends spent the day looking for Hendrick, along with police and sheriff ’s deputies. Hendrick’s car was found about a day later, parked

nterviews with people at the party raised some questions, but ultimately led to the first set of dead ends. “There was some activity that you could say was maybe somewhat suspicious, but not out of the ordinary at a party,” Weaver said. Hendrick had apparently gotten intoxicated and into a “heated conversation” with some people there. But interviews and polygraph tests of those people, plus searches of their homes, turned up nothing. Other people at the party remember Hendrick’s car parked out front. They also reported hearing a car, possibly Hendrick’s, leaving the party at a high rate of speed, throwing gravel in its wake. Another early suspect was the man who lived below the party. He told police he was asleep when Hendrick wandered into his apartment, “mumbling and talking tough,” Weaver said. “As strange as that would sound to many people, it’s not uncommon,” he said of drunks stumbling into the wrong home. Hendrick was tall and was known as a person who liked to fight, and was good at it. But the man told police that he simply turned Hendrick around and sent him out the front door. A search of the apartment turned up no physical evidence, and the man wasn’t pursued as a suspect. But it turned out that he was the last person interviewed by police who saw Hendrick alive. Continued on next page


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LEWISTON TRIBUNE

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PATTY OTTO

She left behind her rings to kill a Lewiston police officer, Duane Ailor, who was pushing hard to find evidence against him. His conviction on that charge was overturned in 1981 because Idaho didn’t have a law on the books saying hiring someone to pull the trigger was the equivalent of attempted murder. That has since changed, but at the time, it meant Otto was a free man until shortly before his death. “After Ralph died, it’s just kind of gone away,” Greene said of the case.

Ralph Otto was always the prime suspect in the disappearance of his young wife, but police could never come up with enough evidence to charge him By SANDRA L. LEE

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FOR THE TRIBUNE

t was a warm summer night, Aug. 31, 1976, when Patty Otto disappeared. No trace has been found since, except for her wedding rings, which were discovered in a pocket of her husband’s suit and eventually turned over to his attorney. They also have since disappeared. Of all the missing persons cases in the 1970s and ’80s, this may be the one that haunts Lewiston’s law enforcement community the least because most are convinced her husband killed her. Ralph Otto, 18 years older than his 24-year-old wife, was

TRIBUNE/STEVE HANKS

Patty Otto’s graduation photo is one of the few keepsakes her three siblings — from left, Vickie Schaffer, Tom O’Malley Jr. and Alice Mills, — have since she disapeared 32 years ago. the primary suspect, recently retired Lewiston Police Capt. Tom Greene said. “There was no indication anybody else was involved.”

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he next couple of years were filled with hundreds of tips and reported sightings nationwide, including Florida and Las Vegas. The national press latched onto the story because Hendrick was gay, and he disappeared about a year after Matthew Shepard was beaten to death in Wyoming because he was gay. Keith Hendrick said he didn’t know if his son’s sexual orientation played into his death. But he added that Moscow is generally a gay-friendly town. “(Wil) really liked Moscow,” Keith Hendrick said. “A number of people from the gay community showed up to help with the search.” One of Hendrick’s friends said the Moscow gay community was put on edge by his disappearance. “There was certainly fear,” Katherine Sprague, owner of the Safari Pearl comic book store, said in 2008. “There was a lot of disbelief, and a lot of uncertainty. And there was an awful lot of speculation.”

Otto was never charged with her death. He died of natural causes while being held in the Clearwater County Jail on an

Rausch developed perhaps the most solid lead in the case. It centered around a truck driver who lived in the same trailer court as Hendrick and Schutz. “Nothing about what this guy did or said ever really made any sense,” Rausch said. Rausch got a tip from a woman he knows that the truck driver called and told her that he wanted to get his things out of his trailer, and that he was leaving town for Florida. Hendrick would sometimes crash at the man’s house when he was out late so he wouldn’t have to come home and get into a fight with Schutz, Rausch said. So when he found out the man suddenly wanted to leave town, Rausch took notice. “It was highly suspicious activity,” he said. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough information for us to ever really compel him to come in and do an official interrogation. I was very, very frustrated over the fact that I couldn’t do anything more with it.” Weaver said the man was tracked down in Florida, but he never cooperated with the investigation. His trailer was searched, but no evidence was found. “Could he have done it? Sure,” Weaver

unrelated charge a few years later. But belief in his guilt intensified when he attempted less than a year after Patty’s death to hire someone

said. But with no definitive evidence, that suspect couldn’t be further pursued, he added. Rausch said the man could be the one that got away. “To this day, I still believe that if he wasn’t specifically involved in it himself, he knows who was.”

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eaver said he hoped a little more public attention to the case would finally help shake something loose. “Obviously, somebody out there knows something. We’re hoping that one of those folks will come forward and give us some information to solve it. It’s an open case and will remain so until it’s solved.” Moscow police Detective Dave Lehmitz agreed when he spoke to the Tribune in 2008. “The majority of the time, that’s how these cases are solved. Someone comes forward.” But Keith Hendrick, a law enforcement officer himself for 38 years, understood that not all homicide investigations are slam dunks. “Most officers have a case like that, that sticks in your craw because you couldn’t

hat wasn’t true for Patty’s family, especially her two daughters who were 5 and 3 when their mother disappeared. And it’s not true for one officer, Tom Saleen. Saleen was maybe the first policeman to arrive at the Otto home off of 29th Street at Lewiston’s eastern edge to investigate a missing person report filed by Patty’s sister. The neighborhood was sparsely populated then. The house stood by itself. Saleen remembers a wet tarp on the ground where it had just been sprayed off. A shovel leaned against a wall. It wasn’t enough to get a search warrant, and Saleen doubts that there would have Continued on next page

solve it,” he said. “You just have to have something to work with.” Weaver said the Hendrick case does that to him. “It’s one of the most frustrating things that agencies experience, when they have a case, especially a major case, that they can’t solve.” Keith Hendrick said each holiday season was tough, not because it’s the time when his son vanished, but because his birthday was Christmas Eve. He and Wil’s mother, Leslie Hendrick, tended to mark that day, and the day his remains were found. And while he said he wasn’t vindictive over the fact that his son’s killer hadn’t been brought to justice, Keith Hendrick worried that the person remained free to hurt others. “A lot of people that kill somebody and get away with it, they’ll kill another one or two in their lifetime,” he said. “We know the good Lord will take care of this one, but we’d like to get him caught so he doesn’t do any more.” Mills may be contacted at jmills@ lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2266.


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been much to find. Ralph was intelligent, everyone seems to agree. His sister, who raised the two little girls, remained almost certain he was innocent, as did the older of the children, Natalie. Suzanne, as an adult going through her own marital problems, said in a past interview that she grew less sure with the years. According to various accounts, Ralph believed Patty was cheating on him. The night she disappeared, she arrived home late from visiting her parents. She and Ralph argued and he told family and police she stormed out of the house, taking nothing, leaving her daughters in their beds. The next day he took the girls to one of Patty’s sisters, saying he was going to look for her. It was the sister, Alice Mills of Lewiston, who called police. The family has said good things and bad about the investigation that followed. It was treated for too long as a missing persons case, they believe. As it progressed, there wasn’t enough evidence to get warrants to search the house and other land that Ralph had access to, Saleen said. Only when someone told police years Patty Otto later about a “secret room” in the house were they able to get a warrant. Behind paneling in the basement they found a small area, a few feet square, containing two jet pumps that had been reported stolen from Valley Boat and Motor, but nothing else. Patty’s oldest sibling, Vickie Schaffer of Coeur d’Alene, believes she may know where Patty finally came to rest — someplace near Winchester. She and her husband would drive that way going to Elk City, she said, and she always had bad feelings in a certain place. “So we quit going that way.” Tom Saleen The family consulted with psychics, each of whom told them in separate meetings that Patty was dead and they could see water and wet wood. It fit with the Winchester Lake area, Schaffer said. Part of the problem, Saleen said, was he couldn’t find enough gaps in Ralph’s alibis for him to have gone far from Lewiston, perhaps not even to the land he had access to near Weippe or Goat Island on the Clearwater River.

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ops say every officer has a case that defines his or her career. This was Saleen’s. A few years ago, he sat with a reporter on the street looking at what had been the Otto home and recited from memory the more than three-decades-old case number, names, dates, facts, suspicions. He was given Patty’s driver’s license a couple days after she disappeared, he said, and for eight years, until the day he retired, it set face up in his desk drawer “so that I’d see it every time I opened the drawer, so I’d think about how to solve it.” Even after he left the department, he would call occasionally with suggestions for follow-up. He wanted to solve the case and find Patty for her parents, Tom and Ardys (Toots) O’Malley and for the two little girls, one of whom died in 2006 with her husband, son and her son’s friend when carbon monoxide flooded the boat in which they were sleeping. The case remains alive to Saleen, and if there was ever to be a break, he would be among the first called, Lewiston Capt. Roger Lanier said. It’s a small, close-knit department in many ways, and people who have left are living archives with the kind of knowledge that is all but impossible to type into reports. Soon, said Lanier of the group of unsolved and missing persons cases 30 to 40 years old, “there will be no employees here from when these cases started, but there will be employees who have done extensive review. They are familiar with the cases.” On all the missing persons cases, including Patty Otto, the department will get occasional notifications from the National Crime Information Center when remains are found. They always follow up, hoping someday to find something that will provide closure for family, and also to the officers who have pursued every clue, no matter how old. Lee can be contacted at city@lmtribune.com.

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MR. BONESY/JOHN DOE

Remains with Two dead bodies were found in Lewiston, in 1982 and 1989, but putting names to either one of them has proven elusive By RALPH BARTHOLDT

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OF THE TRIBUNE

he bones have recently been returned. This in itself is not noteworthy except it serves to close a chapter of a saga that has been ongoing for 25 years. The bones belong to “Mr. Bonesey,” as Lewiston Police Detective Budd Hurd has come to call the physical remains of the 24- to 26-year-old white male found buried in an unmarked, shallow grave in Normal Hill Cemetery on Sept. 21, 1989. Police have been trying since then to connect the remains with an identity, but have fallen short. The bones filled an unmarked sack in the Lewiston Police Department evidence room and were all but forgotten until a few years ago when Hurd, the department’s evidence detective, reacquainted himself with the 33 pieces. “I found them in evidence, and that’s what started this again,” Hurd said. By “this,” he means police department efforts to rejoin the hunt to identify the pieces that were found more than two decades ago by a grave digger preparing another plot for burial. Instead of being laid in an east to west direction under several feet of fill, according to cemetery protocol, the remains he found were laid north to south without a casket under about 2 feet of soil. There was no record of the burial. Using dental records and descriptions, police tried to match them with a number of missing persons, but nothing fit. Anthropologist Donald Tyler,

chairman of the sociology, anthropology and justice studies program at the University of Idaho, was tapped to examine the bones. Tyler concluded they were from a male, approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall and 24 to 26 years of age. The bones indicated the person had performed heavy lifting during his lifetime. Based upon the decomposition of the body and the relative freshness of the bones, Tyler found they had been buried for less than 10 years. “His skull was wiped off, but I could see that it was recently decomposed,” Tyler said. “The skull, through the mineral water, will change color to what minerals are around it, and this had just started the process.” The cause of death could not be determined, he said. Unless a body was inflicted with multiple stab wounds, or shot through the skull with a firearm, evidence becomes sketchy once a person’s remains have been degraded to bone, he said. Dental records of Steven Pearsall, who was reported missing from the Lewiston Civic Theatre in September 1982 and would have fit a time line of the remains, failed to provide a match. A number of other missing persons of the era were also closely checked to determine if their records could provide a match for the man, said former Lewiston Police Detective Alan Johnson. None were found. Police publicized the man’s bones in 1990 when an employee at the North Idaho Laboratory, then locat-

ed at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, was able to reconstruct the man’s skull by adding clay features that would simulate what he may have looked like. Identifications on the face and other age-identifying marks could not be determined, but the man’s skull gives police a small picture into his appearance. No one can be sure, however, if the resemblance is accurate. Such resemblances sometimes provide the person’s face in exact detail, Tyler said. Others may not resemble the living person. Lewiston police entered X-rays of the man’s jaw, which included his dental makeup, into a Northwest DNA database, and it was crosschecked with other cases of the time. Again, no hits. When Hurd found the bones and lugged them out of evidence it had been a decade or more since they were stored away. Advances in DNA research had blossomed during that time and the department opted to employ the latest technology as yet another step to uncovering the man’s identity. The bones were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification where Mr. Bonesey’s DNA was logged into a national registry for posterity. “We used to need 100 DNA markers to make a positive identity,” Hurd said. “Now, it’s down to five.” Lt. Mike Pedersen, who was a patrol officer in 1989 when he responded to the cemetery where the bones were first uncovered, has


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LEWISTON TRIBUNE

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MR. BONES

no names old man who suffered gunshot wounds to the left shoulder and neck. Sheriff Joe Rodriguez was an investigator when the sheriff ’s office received The remains a tip that detectives felt could rekindle the cold case. John Doe was exhumed of the man authorities have to collect a DNA sample, which was sent to the University of Northern Texas yet to identify, Center for Human Identification. even after clay “It was not a match,” Rodriguez said. Since taking the helm of county law was layered enforcement, Rodriguez has been collecton the skull to ing leads and following up with people simulate what who may shed new light on the old case. he may have “I just started making phone calls and looked like. setting up meetings with people,” he said. “It takes basically somebody to remember TRIBUNE/ something that could be part of this.” KYLE MILLS No other law enforcement agencies along the Snake and Salmon river systems ever identified the man as a missing person of their own, according to newspaper reports. Doe was of medium build, weighwatched the investigative process over ing 150 pounds and standing 5 feet the years. After many dead ends, he is 11 inches, according to authorities. He skeptical that new technology will help had straight brown or black hair, and a close the case. 2-inch scar on his right ankle, but no “I would be extremely surprised if we tattoos or other distinguishing marks. find him,” Pedersen said. Since their return from the Texas labo- The color of his eyes could not be determined. When he was found, Doe ratory, Lewiston police have made plans wore designer jeans over blue swimto cremate the skeletal remains, closing ming trunks with red and white stripes. another small chapter in this cold case. Dental records didn’t produce a match. Authorities said he was shot with The case of ‘John Doe’ a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber 36 The dead man whose body was found Centennial Model, a rare firearm, which had not been manufactured since 1967. bullet-riddled in the Snake “There was only 100 of River south of Lewiston more them made,” Rodriguez said. than 30 years ago could have Detectives believed the man come from three drainages. was dead when he entered He was discovered on a the river, although an autopsy Saturday night, June 26, 1982, report was inconclusive on by a Lewiston fisherman on the whether he drowned or died Idaho side of the river, near an from the gunshots. eddy just across from the mouth Investigations in the years of the Grande Ronde River. after Doe was buried prompted Detectives estimated the Police sketch ballistic checks of a few handman had been in the water for guns, but investigations fizzled. of “John Doe,” two or three weeks. Because Cold cases such as John river levels were high during whose body Doe’s don’t go away, Rodriguez the spring runoff, the body was found said. They sit idly sometimes, could have floated in from the in the Snake but new information and new Salmon River, or the Grande River in 1982. technology such as recent Ronde, detectives speculated. It advances in DNA research can could have been dumped into prompt renewed interest. the Snake upstream. “If something piques our interest, we He was removed from the water at look at it again,” Rodriguez said. “If you Heller Bar by Asotin County depulook at technology, we’ve advanced.” ties and later buried in Normal Hill Cemetery as “John Doe.” Bartholdt can be contacted After more than 30 years, Nez Perce at rbartholdt@lmtribune. County Sheriff ’s Office detectives are still trying to identify the 18- to 20-year- com or (208) 848-2275.

Was it murder or a natural death? Reports differ about death of man whose body was found in Idaho County wilderness in 1984 45 years old, approximately 5 feet 6 or 5 feet 7 inches tall. Officials initially believed the person had died from exposure. But Rodger Hagler, a forensic anthropologist RANGEVILLE — The human at San Francisco State University, had a different remains are lovingly referred to by opinion. the detectives at the Idaho County Hagler said “a knife-like object with a sharp Sheriff ’s Office as “Mr. Bones.” edge caused an incising wound” between the It’s what’s left of an unidentified sixth and seventh left ribs. Hagler theorized the man whose body was discovered by hunters in man died as a result of foul the Idaho County wilderness play and that he had been in September 1984. dead about two years. Detective Jerry Johnson Detective Johnson said with the sheriff ’s office said it’s there had never been a DNA not certain whether Mr. Bones test done on Mr. Bones’ was the victim of a homicide. remains and that was why they A recent forensic analysis of were sent about a year ago to the remains by the University the University of North Texas. of North Texas cast doubt on The university offers such an earlier autopsy that detertesting free of charge to law mined the man had likely died enforcement agencies, Johnson from a stab wound. said. But an ongoing investiga“We asked for a re-do of the tion by the FBI of a serial killremains (to determine) age, er in another state leaves open ethnicity and DNA extracthe possibility that Mr. Bones tion,” Johnson said. was the victim of a crime. The purpose was to collect When the body was found all the available data that could by hunters at a secluded campThis face mask of a person be entered into the National site about 14 miles south of found dead in Idaho County Missing and Unidentified Powell near Elk Summit it was Persons System. was reconstructed by a clad in a pair of cotton pants, Even though investigatwo shirts and a leather jacket forensic anthropologist, tions may no longer be active, with some change in one of based on skeletal features Johnson said, the database the pockets. of a 40-something-yearallows law enforcement offiParts of a broken set of old man found dead in a cials and the public to remain eyeglasses also were found with sleeping bag in September up-to-date on such cases. the body, while several hunThe University of North dred yards away investigators 1984 near Powell. Texas review differed from the found the remaining parts of earlier one. “They didn’t agree the glasses. with (Hagler’s) forensic study about the manner The body was sent to the Pathologists’ of death,” Johnson said. “They felt (the wound) Regional Laboratory at Lewiston and a was done after death, caused possibly by an aniGrangeville dentist examined the skull. mal. So we have a lot more questions than we Then-Sheriff Rodger W. Laughlin specudid have but we do have a DNA” analysis. lated the man could be James Schroeder, 23, The FBI has kept its eye on the case, he of Wisconsin, who had disappeared two years added, because of an ongoing investigation of earlier while hunting with companions near Old its own involving a known serial killer. Johnson Man Lake on the Lochsa River, about 50 miles away from where Mr. Bones was found. declined to discuss that aspect further but said Lewiston police also were interested in the there may be developments in a few months that discovery. Steven R. Pearsall, 35, who was could reveal whether there is a connection. last seen Sept. 12, 1982, in the Normal Hill “We’re still not sure if this even was a homiarea, had not been located. The bodies of two cide. So the case is still open and we’re still lookwomen who had last been seen with Pearsall ing at all the angles.” were discovered a few months later; the victims of murder. Hedberg may be contacted at kathyhedberg@ The pathologist’s report revealed that the gmail.com or (208) 983-2326. body was that of a male Caucasian, about 40 to

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By KATHY HEDBERG OF THE TRIBUNE


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Lewiston Tribune

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M o n d ay, M ay 1 9 , 2 0 1 4

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