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Spokane Woman May Be Serial Victim

July 10, 1998

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ A serial killer who stalks crime-ridden sections of town may have resurfaced after three months to murder his eighth victim, police said.

The nude body of Michelyn Derning, 47, was discovered by a transient Tuesday in a vacant lot behind a Spokane business. She was last seen alive in downtown Spokane a week ago.

Derning had been shot and her body hidden beneath branches and a hot tub cover. Her death shares similarities with the other slayings, according to a task force looking into the murders.

Since last fall, seven women in Spokane and one in Tacoma are believed to have been the victims of the serial killer.

Another 43-year-old woman has not been seen since mid-May and could be another victim. She was known to associate with some of the past victims.

Derning moved to Spokane a year ago from Southern California and was known to associate with people involved in drugs or prostitution, police said. All of the victims had been involved in drugs, prostitution, or both. They were shot and their bodies dumped in out-of-the-way areas.

Investigators hope the discovery of the eighth victim will yield more clues than the other women who had been dead weeks or months by the time their bodies were found.

``We have a better chance of someone being able to possibly provide information that would send us in the right direction,″ acting Police Chief Roger Bragdon said.

Before the new case, the most recent discovery of a victim was the heavily decomposed body of Linda Marie Maybin, 34, on April 1.

Investigators also are looking into any links the presumed serial slayings may have with as many as a dozen other unsolved slayings of women in the Spokane area since 1984.

The number of possible suspects in the killings is still ``tremendously large,″ Bragdon said. ``There’s no focus yet.″

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