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Police Paraphernalia, Videotapes Seized From Suspect in Serial Slayings

July 15, 1989

SEATTLE (AP) _ Police sorted through hundreds of videotapes and a truckload of other evidence Friday that were seized from a former law student suspected in the 48 Green River slayings, the nation’s worst serial murder case.

Some of the 1,800 videotapes apparently were homemade, but investigators would not comment on what they depicted. The 55 cartons and bags of materials included police uniforms, more than two dozen firearms and about 100 police badges.

The items were taken Wednesday from two Spokane residences used by William Jay Stevens II. Stevens, 38, has not been charged in the deaths of 48 Northwest women from 1982-85 that came to be known as the Green River slayings.

Forty women are known dead and police have blamed their killer for the disappearances of eight other women.

The case takes its name from the river south of Seattle where the first five victims’ bodies were found in 1982. Many of the victims, ranging in age from 15 to 36, were prostitutes in the Seattle or Portland areas.

In addition to those deaths, the affidavit supporting a search warrant of Stevens’ residences said he may be linked to at least 17 other murder victims whose bodies were found along highways between Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia, and from Seattle to Spokane.

″Whether or not this person is simply the victim of a bizarre set of circumstances or in fact responsible for some of the crimes in King County we don’t know yet, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to determine by going through the material we recovered with the warrant,″ Green River Task Force Commander Robert C. Evans said Friday.

Stevens denied any involvement in the killings, said his attorney, Craig Beles.

″He feels basically like anybody who is innocent of the offenses being looked at by the Green River Task Force. He is angry and frightened,″ said Beles. ″He’s a colorful character, but he’s no murderer.″

Stevens is in the King County Jail serving a one-year term for a 1979 burglary of a police equipment supply store and additional time for escape. Police say Stevens walked away from a Seattle work release center in 1981.

He was rearrested in Spokane on Jan. 10.

He was found after ″Manhunt,″ a nationally syndicated television show, aired a program in December about the Green River killings. One tipster directed investigators to Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, where Stevens had attended classes for 3 1/2 years and was president of the student bar.

Stevens’ father declined to talk with The Associated Press and Stevens has declined jailhouse visits by AP reporters.

Beles, who also was one of Stevens’ former law school professors, called any allegations that Stevens may have committed the serial killings ″purely ridiculous.″

He said his client ″is concerned he’s being singled out as the answer to a longtime investigation.″

Evans acknowledged the King County Police task force had found ″no smoking gun,″ but he said an initial study of 405 documents charting Stevens’ movements between 1981 and 1989 showed they sometimes closely paralleled the killings.

Records seized when he was arrested show he traveled extensively between Seattle, Portland, Spokane and Vancouver, British Columbia, under at least four aliases during the period, Evans said.

After his arrest, Spokane authorities found that Stevens possessed several police-type vehicles, including an undercover car equipped with lights, siren, radar and radio.

Stevens had a fully equipped Washington State Patrol motorcycle that had been sold as surplus, 26 vehicle license plates, 29 firearms and about 100 police badges, police said.

The task force has suspected the killer could be a police officer or someone posing as one, Evans said.

In the affidavit, many who knew Stevens said he liked pornography, frequented prostitutes and carried photographs of mutilated women. All the witnesses interviewed about Stevens said he led them to believe he worked for a secret government agency and went on secret ″missions.″

Stevens reportedly told a Portland friend, John Strangeland, that he was in the Army and hinted he worked for the CIA. Strangeland and others said Stevens often left town for as much as a week for ″missions,″ the affidavit said.

The affidavit did not list an occupation for Stevens, and officials declined to comment.

An associate of Stevens’, Ernest Iuliano, told investigators Stevens said he was working for Seattle Police vice unit ″and that Stevens had said that he was often involved in the torture of prostitutes,″ the affidavit said.

Stevens told Iuliano that he would like to have a videotape of ″cutting up prostitutes,″ the document said.

One man who knew Stevens said he was told ″that Stevens made statements that the Green River victims were killed for snuff films,″ the affidavit said, referring to pornographic films purportedly showing people being killed.

It said the basement of a house Stevens owned near Portland contained a secret room behind a sliding bookcase. The bookcase was activated by a switch on the wall or an electric garage door opener.

Evans said the seized documents would first be sorted and the tapes looked at later. He said the process could take a month, but would be completed before Stevens’ scheduled Sept. 25 release.

The new evidence did not include any clothing, jewelry or other effects belonging to any of the Green River victims, most of whom were found naked.

In San Diego, police are investigating the slayings of 42 women in that area since 1985, and some detectives believe they may be the work of the Green River Killer.

San Diego Metropolitan Homicide Task Force spokeswoman Elizabeth Foster said its investigators have not yet had time to look into Stevens.

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