Discovery of New Green River Victim Part of Routine for Investigators
SEATTLE (AP) _ The discovery of a new victim in the Green River serial-killing case gave detectives some fresh leads, but few hopes were raised with 40 other deaths unsolved, the chief investigator said Thursday.
The skeleton of Andrea Marion Childers, who was 19 when she disappeared in 1983, was found Wednesday by a worker cutting brush just 50 yards from where three other victims had been uncovered six years ago near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Police believe the killer in the nation’s worst unsolved serial-murder case has not operated in the Seattle area since 1984. In addition to the 41 known victims, eight young missing women are listed as presumed victims.
Ms. Childers had not been on that missing list, but the Green River Task Force had information about her because she was reported missing in 1983, said King County Police Capt. Robert Evans, the task force commander.
Investigators weren’t surprised that she turned out to be a Green River victim and that her skeleton was found in an area heavily searched previously, Evans said.
″If you go back to our experience with recovering bodies - waiting two years before a family member calls and says, ‘I think you ought to look at this’ - it’s just not unexpected anymore. ... Everything has some sort of a bizarre twist.″
Few personal details about Ms. Childers were available, but Evans said she fit the profile of other Green River victims. Those killed were young women, most with links to prostitution.
Seattle police had at least one contact with Ms. Childers, when they arrested her on March 14, 1983, on a prostitution charge, Seattle police spokesman Mark Amundson said.
One month later, Edmonds, Wash., police received a missing person report about Ms. Childers. She was last seen by her boyfriend as she was on her way to a shopping area frequented by prostitutes near the airport, police said.
Many Green River victims were known to frequent the ″Sea-Tac strip″ near the airport south of Seattle.
″The time of disappearance, what little we know now about the background of the victim is similar to a lot of our victims,″ Evans said. ″The location ... the circumstances of the found victim, those kinds of things are certainly indicative of a Green River victim.″
The missing person report on Ms. Childers was among hundreds that Green River investigators had collected as they strove to identify several victims found earlier.
However, Edmonds police later withdrew the missing-person report, saying a witness had reported seeing Ms. Childers crossing the Canadian border.
The Green River killings occurred from the summer of 1982 to early 1984. The killer operated primarily in the Puget Sound area; the bodies of the first five victims were found near the Green River, giving the case its name.
No arrests have been made, but William J. Stevens II, 38, of Spokane, has been described by task force investigators as a ″viable suspect.″ He has been jailed in Spokane on federal weapons charges but he has not been charged in connection with the Green River killings.