Acquaintances Say Green River Suspect Kept Past to Himself With AM-Green River, Bjt
JAMES L. ENG
Jul. 15, 1989
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ William J. Stevens II, an ex-law school student identified as a suspect in the nation's worst unsolved serial murder case, never seemed to throw anything out, except for details of his life on the run.
Stevens is described by Green River task force investigators in a court affidavit as a man who collected police badges and old police cars and meticulously kept dated gas receipts and maintenance records of vehicles he hadn't driven in years.
Yet former friends and acquaintances say he rarely discussed much of his past in detail.
The task force is investigating the slayings of as many as 48 women in the Pacific Northwest between 1982 and 1984. It was seven years ago this week that the first Green River victim was found.
''He was a kind of a shadowy kind of guy, I mean he was there, but he wasn't,'' said Kent Hansen, who met Stevens at Gonzaga University School of Law. ''I think we were all trying to figure him out because he wasn't your typical law student.''
Police arrested Stevens at his parents' home in Spokane last January on charges of escaping from a Seattle work-release facility in 1981. He had been serving time for burglarizing a police equipment business in October 1979.
Stevens had attended law school for 3 1/2 years at the time of his rearrest, and had twice served as student bar president at Gonzaga.
It is his life from 1981 to 1985, when he enrolled at Gonzaga, that the Green River task force is interested in. Police say Stevens was in the vicinity of several of the Green River victims, many of them prostitutes, when they were last seen, and that he traveled extensively between Spokane, Seattle and the Portland, Ore., area.
Stevens was the oldest of three adopted children. They were raised in a three-bedroom house in a tidy, placid neighborhood of single-family homes north of the Spokane city limits.
Stevens' mother recently died, and his father, who declined an interview Friday, recently underwent an operation for a brain tumor, according to former acquaintances.
Billy, as Stevens was known, went to Catholic schools and, like any other child, played in the streets with neighbors' kids. He was a heavy-set child who kept a collection of police badges in a glass case, and who later bought used police cars at auctions.
King County Capt. Bob Evans in Seattle, commander of a task force investigating the case, said that investigators had speculated that the killer ''could be a cop or someone posing as a cop.''
Stevens would often visit his parents after moving to the Seattle area to attend the University of Washington, where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in psychology. That summer, he took courses in sociology and pharmacology. His father owned a Spokane pharmacy.
He apparently entered the U.S. Army after undergraduate school, and served as an officer in charge of a military police unit. Acquaintances said he dated, but most couldn't recall any serious relationships.
Sarina Caruso, 44, of Portland, Ore., told investigators Stevens often went on ''missions,'' disappearing for days at a time. He also once showed a secret room behind a bookcase in the basement of a home he lived in in Portland.
She said she once asked him if he was the Green River killer. He replied: ''Don't start that rumor. People around here think I'm weird enough.''
Caruso, who described herself as ''probably the closest thing he had to a friend,'' described Stevens as ''bizarre'' and ''anti-social.''
But another woman who knew Stevens from Gonzaga described him as ''outgoing, friendly,'' and who took took more passion in his student bar activities than he did to classroom work.
''That's his thing. He likes working with organizations and helping people,'' said the woman, a Seattle-area attorney, who did not want to be identified.
Dale Goodwin, a Gonzaga University spokesman, said Stevens was dismissed from law school after his rearrest in January for falsely stating in his application that he had never been convicted of a felony.
Goodwin added that Gonzaga records indicate Stevens graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in pharmacology, and that he had also attended Washington State University in Pullman, Seattle University and Central Washington University.
Washington State University spokesman Al Ruddy said his school had no record of Stevens.