Investigators Hoped To Find Records When They OK’d Green River Search
SEATTLE (AP) _ Authorities obtained a court order to search the homes of a Green River serial killings suspect because they hoped to find records detailing aliases he may have used, a top police commander said.
But what police took Wednesday from two Spokane residences used by William Jay Stevens II were 55 cartons and bags of materials including 1,800 videotapes, travel receipts, police uniforms, more than two dozen firearms and about 100 police badges.
Police suspected Stevens, a onetime Gonzaga University law student who has been jailed since January on unrelated charges, of using aliases that could not be checked out without obtaining records from his house, said King County police Capt. Robert C. Evans, commander of the Green River Task Force.
″That was the only reason we did the search warrant,″ he said in an interview in Saturday editions of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. ″We know he kept a lot of records.″
Stevens, 38, has not been charged in any of the deaths and disappearances and denies any involvement in the case. But in a court document released Thursday, he was labeled a ″viable suspect″ in what has been called the nation’s worst unsolved serial killings case.
Evans said it would take a month to examine the large amount of material taken under search warrant from two Spokane homes used by Stevens. One thing was ruled out, though, he said: The items did not include any clothing, jewelry or other effects from Green River victims.
Police would not comment on the contents of the videotapes found in the two residences, except to say that at least some of them were homemade.
The Green River killer, named for a stream south of Seattle where some victims were found, has been blamed for the deaths of as many as 48 Northwest women, many of them prostitutes, beginning seven years ago this month.
Evans said the search warrants of the homes were sought because Stevens’ attorneys had not allowed their client to talk to police.
″We tried not to have to do this,″ Evans said. ″We made over a dozen efforts to interview him so we wouldn’t have to go through this process.″
But Craig Beles, a lawyer for Stevens, accused the task force of ″grasping at straws″ and said his client ″is concerned he’s being singled out as the answer to a longtime investigation.″
He said Stevens ″is a colorful character, but he’s no murderer.″
In a lengthy affidavit used to obtained a search warrant, friends of Stevens are quoted as saying he believed prostitutes were spreading AIDS, wanted to make films of hookers being dismembered and told others the killing of Green River victims had been filmed.
Stevens is jailed in Seattle, serving a one-year term for the burglary of a police equipment supply store in 1979 and additional time for walking away from a work-release center in 1981.
While police identified Stevens several years ago as someone to check, Evans said ″Manhunt,″ a nationally syndicated television show broadcast last December about the Green River killing, prompted a phone call directing investigators to Gonzaga University.
That led to his arrest in January on the old escape charge. He is due to be held in that case at least until September, authorities said.
Evans said there was no ″smoking gun,″ but said an initial study of documents found earlier showed that Stevens’ movements between 1981 and 1989 sometimes closely paralleled the killings.
A spokeswoman for the Women’s Coalition to Stop the Green River Murders, a group that has frequently criticized the task force’s efforts, said Friday that the searches of Stevens’ homes might be nothing more than a police publicity ploy.
″I guess we’re jaded at this point,″ said Cookie Hunt, noting the task force has carried out several search warrants in the past without producing any arrests.