Police Say Serial Murderer At Work In 3 Counties

The disappearances of 12 women and the murders of 29 others in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties since 1985 are being tracked as possible serial killings, some most likely linked, King County police are now saying.

The county has even compiled a list of the names and ages of the victims and other information on the 41 cases - the first official, detailed acknowledgment since the Green River serial murders that a serial killer or killers is preying on women in the three counties.

"We feel we're at the hub of things, and feel we need to stay on top of these cases," said King County police Capt. T. Michael Nault, who heads the Major Investigations Section.

"Some of the women found dead in Snohomish disappeared from King County. Some of the women found in King County disappeared from Pierce County. We're not investigating the Snohomish and Pierce County cases, but we're tracking them. We're trying to track victims whose lifestyles make them more available to predatory killers."

As with many Green River victims, several of the women in the recent cases were prostitutes or associated with street life, Nault said.

"I view the 12 missing women the same as the eight missing Green River victims," he said.

No one is saying any of the murders since 1985 are the work of the Green River serial killer, but whoever is doing the killing shares some habits with the notorious murderer: he abducts mostly prostitutes, kills them, and leaves their bodies in rural areas.

The 12 missing women are: Virginia Rambus, 19; Diane Robbins, 13; Patricia Barczak, 19; Doris Mulhern, 21; Darci Warde, 16; Erin MacGregor, 18; Jami Sherer, 26; Deborah Wims, 31; Linda Moore, 29; Heather Kinchen, 14; Nguyet Thu Phung, 19; and Cora McGuirk, 22.

Rambus, Robbins, MacGregor, Sherer and Phung had no known connection to prostitution, said Tom Jensen, the King County detective who does much of the day-to-day tracking of the women.

Darci Warde, who disappeared in 1990, is an example of the type of young woman being preyed upon. She is young, heavyset and has links to prostitution. She stands 5-feet-2 and weighs 145 pounds. Several of the women found dead in King County in the past 2 1/2 years were of similar physical stature, including three whose bodies were discovered off Interstate 90 near North Bend.

The North Bend victims were:

-- An unidentified white woman, 14 to 22 years old, 5 feet 6 and 170 pounds. Her skeletal remains were found July 6, 1990.

-- Sarah Habakangas, 17, white, 5 feet 1, 160 pounds. She was found Nov. 5, 1991.

-- Nicole French, 19, white, 5 feet 4, 145 pounds. Her body was discovered Nov. 7, 1992.

The list of 41 cases, five of which involve unidentified remains, was compiled by detectives at Nault's request. He wanted to know whether the Green River killer was active after 1985.

Nault, however, does not believe the slayings between 1985 and now are the work of the Green River killer because there have been too few murders. The Green River killer was prolific, murdering as many as five women in a month. The first bodies were discovered in 1982. It remains the largest unsolved serial-murder case in the country.

When the Green River Task Force was formed in 1984 to catch the killer, police thought he had killed only 13 women. Later they learned that he was responsible for the deaths of 49 young women between the summer of 1982 and early 1984. The remains of 41 of the Green River victims have been found. Eight are on a list of missing and are presumed dead.

Nault said it shouldn't come as a surprise to Northwest residents that 12 missing women may be victims of a serial killer, or killers, or that serial killers have claimed the lives of scores of other women in the three counties since 1985.

Predatory killers have been a problem in the Northwest since Ted Bundy of Tacoma began his reign of killings in the mid-1970s in Seattle and King County, Nault said.

Along with Bundy and the Green River killer, another serial killer who preyed on women was George Russell of Mercer Island. Russell was convicted in 1991 for the 1990 slayings of three Eastside women. Russell was the first serial killer brought to trial and convicted in King County.

Transient killers also have passed through the Northwest, Nault said.

At the FBI academy in Quantico, Va., where Nault lectures on serial murder investigations each year, expert investigators of serial murder cases note that killers who have been caught say they like traveling through the Northwest.

"A lot of serial killers traverse the Northwest for three reasons," Nault said. "They get publicity, there is opportunity to find victims and there is a perception of laid-back law enforcement."

While they don't admit to anything specific, the inference, says Nault, is that these traveling killers have killed here.

"They're not coming here to tour the area," he said.

Nault says serial killings in the Northwest aren't going to stop, and law enforcement needs to work together to solved these cases. "It's a regional problem. It begs for a regional solution," he said.

Nault favors the creation of a regional task force to work only predatory and serial slayings. The group, which would be made up of officers from various law enforcement agencies in King, Snohomish and Pierce, would free police department homicide units to work other cases.

"There are those who argue that the Green River Task Force shouldn't have been disbanded, only reduced," he said.

The Green River Task Force was created in 1984 to try to solve the murders. King County operated the multi-agency group and disbanded it in 1990 after spending more than $15 million and failing to capture the killer.

Two weeks ago, King County Executive Tim Hill approved the reassignment of four detectives to the Major Investigations Section to help deal with the increase in murders and other major crimes.

-------------------- THE 12 MISSING WOMEN --------------------

King County police are trying to find these 12 young women:

------------------------------------------------------------------. Name Age Last seen Where Police ------------------------------------------------------------------. Rambus, Virginia 19 5-20-85 Seattle King Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Robbins, Diane 13 6-18-85 Bellevue Benton Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Barczak, Patricia 19 10-18-86 Seattle King Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Mulhern, Doris 21 3-05-87 Fed. Way King Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Warde, Darci 16 4-30-90 Seattle/Oly Seattle ------------------------------------------------------------------. MacGregor, Erin 18 9-19-90 Redmond King Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Sherer, Jami 26 9-30-90 Redmond Redmond ------------------------------------------------------------------. Wims, Deborah 31 10-25-90 SeaTac Strip King Co. ------------------------------------------------------------------. Moore, Linda 29 11-04-90 Seattle Seattle ------------------------------------------------------------------. Kinchen, Heather 14 5-05-91 Seattle Seattle ------------------------------------------------------------------. Phung, Nguyet Thu 19 5-09-91 Seattle Lynnwood ------------------------------------------------------------------. McGuirk, Cora 22 7-08-91 Seattle Seattle ------------------------------------------------------------------.

----------------------- THE 29 UNSOLVED MURDERS -----------------------

The remains of these 29 women have been found, but their deaths are unsolved:

-----------------------------------------------------------------. NAME Age Last seen Where Found Where Police -----------------------------------------------------------------. KRUEGER, SUSAN 42 2-19-85 Tacoma 5-05-85 I-5 Lewis Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. PURDIN, MOLLY 21 6-18-85 Bellevue 7-07-85 Index Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. MOREHOUSE, SHAN 15 2-02-86 Tacoma 3-14-86 Seward Park Seattle -----------------------------------------------------------------. MAIN, TERRY 21 2-22-86 Tacoma 2-22-86 Tacoma Tacoma -----------------------------------------------------------------. GONZALES, DEBBIE 13 8-01-87 Fed. Way 9-26-87 Aub-Blk Dd Rd. King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. KURRAN, ROSE 16 8-26-87 Seattle 8-31-87 SeaTac King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. PRESLEIGH, DORTHEA 24 10-18-87 Seattle 10-19-87 Grand View Park King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. PEASE, SHANNON 15 4-03-88 Tacoma 4-04-88 S. 96/32 S. Pierce Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. GELNETT, HAZEL 66 5-08-88 5-08-88 Hwy. 2/Gold Bar Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. BERNETTO, JENNIFER 32 6-10-88 Pierce Co. 6-29-88 Index Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. HAWN, STACY 23 7-00-88 Seattle 12-00-88 Lk. Cavanaugh Skagit Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. DELANGE, KIMBERLY 15 7-22-88 Puyallup 8-21-88 Hwy. 410 King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. WHITNEY, TRACY 18 8-28-88 Fed. Way 8-28-88 Linden Bridge Pierce Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. KENWORTHY, ROBYN 20 9-16-88 Ellensburg 10-22-88 Sultan Valley Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. WALKER, KERRY 15 12-20-88 Seattle 12-21-89 Renton Renton -----------------------------------------------------------------. RIVAS, LISA 19 1-07-89 Tacoma 1-09-89 Fort Lewis Fort Lewis -----------------------------------------------------------------. REEVES, MARTA 36 3-05-90 Seattle 9-20-90 Hwy. 410 King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. LEE, SUN NYO 32 6-25-90 Bothell 3-26-91 High Bridge Rd. Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. CHEBETNOY, ANNA 14 8-12-90 Puyallup 9-17-91 Hwy. 410 King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. KOSKI, MICHELLE 17 8-20-90 Seattle 8-25-90 Hwy. 522/Echo Lk. Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. HICKS, TIA 20 11-18-90 Seattle 4-22-91 Mountlake Terr. Mountlake T. -----------------------------------------------------------------. HENSLEY, MIGNON 21 6-19-91 Fed. Way 8-05-91 U.S. 12 E/I-5 Lewis Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. HABAKANGAS, SARAH 17 11-04-91 Seattle 11-05-91 I-90/N. Bend King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. FRENCH, NICOLE 19 11-06-92 Seattle 11-07-92 Middle Fork King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. BONES

1-01-88 228 SW & 4 W Snoh. Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. BONES

3-00-88 19th & Orchard Tacoma -----------------------------------------------------------------. BONES

7-06-91 I-90 Tinkham King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. BONES

9-12-91 Hwy. 410 King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------. BONES

9-05-91 Snoq. River King Co. -----------------------------------------------------------------.