Three women missing since the early 1980s likely were slain by the Green River serial killer, but their names were never added to the official list of 49 victims.
An in-depth look at women missing in King County since 1980 reveals that the three women fit the profile of many of the women who were listed as missing and later as victims of the killer.
Virtually all the young women who disappeared in King County in 1982 and 1983 - when the killer was most active - and are still missing today, already are on the Green River missing list.
Officially, the unknown killer is blamed for the deaths of 49 women from the summer of 1982 to March 1984. The remains of 41 have been found in either King County or the suburbs of Portland. Eight remain missing. The Green River case is the worst unsolved serial murder case in the nation.
If the three women were added to the official list, the total number of victims would be 52.
"I feel that they are likely to be Green River victims," says King County Police Detective Tom Jensen, the sole full-time investigator on the Green River case. "They pretty much fit the time frame and profile."
So convinced is Jensen that earlier this year he wrote a memo to supervisors recommending that they be added to the official list.
"The chief (Frank Adamson, criminal-investigation division chief) agreed these were cases of interest, but didn't see any particular benefit to the investigation to include them on a public list," Jensen said. "We decided that no public release would be made."
Adamson, the first commander of the Green River Task Force, left that position in 1986 while investigators still were trying to determine the fate of the three women.
"What value do we have to add people today?" Adamson asked. "We made judgments. We were conservative with our missing."
Adamson said he recently reviewed the women's cases, all of which were investigated by the task force.
"There is some indication that the detectives working on at least two of the missing didn't feel, at that point, that they fit the profile. They weren't sure if they had a relationship with prostitution. When they finished those cases, they left them open . . . no decision was made. They simply didn't know if they should go on (the list) or not."
Jensen says several of the women on the official list were never arrested for prostitution, but were involved in activities that placed them among prostitutes on the street.
Here are thumbnail sketches of each of the three:
-- Kristi Lynn Vorak was only 13 when she disappeared in November 1982. She was reported missing in Tacoma, but last seen at a bus depot in Seattle. Vorak had no record of prostitution, but was known to frequent the streets. She was white, 5-feet-3 and weighed 110 pounds.
-- Patricia A. LeBlanc vanished in August 1983 at age 15. On Aug. 8, 1983, she was arrested on a prostitution charge and placed in the custody of the Department of Social and Health Services. She was never seen after running away during an outing with DSHS employees at the Seattle Center. She was white, 5-feet-3 and weighed 136 pounds.
-- Tonya Lee Clemmons was last seen by relatives in December 1983. There is no record of Clemmons being arrested for prostitution, but she frequented areas of prostitution. Born with a disfigured left arm, Clemmons was a 26-year-old African American who stood 5-feet-4 and weighed 100 pounds.
`SHE ALWAYS CALLED'
"If she was alive, she would have contacted me," said one of Clemmons' aunts. "I raised her. I would always hear from her during the holidays. Even if she was angry, she would call. We have no idea what happened to her."
Seattle foster parent Dawn English took care of LeBlanc for about six months in the early 1980s.
"She was a chronic runaway, but she always called," remembered English a few days ago. "One day she never called again. I felt that she was killed by the Green River killer. It's very sad."
DAUGHTER STILL ALIVE?
Vorak's mother, Juanita Rickett, said she believes her daughter is still alive somewhere in Seattle, although she has not contacted anyone in the family since she disappeared.
Jensen said putting the women on the list would allow other law enforcement agencies to have information they wouldn't see in evaluating suspects they come across in routine police work.
"I don't want them forgotten," he said of the women. "If I was to die tomorrow, who is going to remember them if they are not on the list officially? You get to a point in this investigation where there aren't that many people with the overall knowledge of the case."
Jensen's immediate supervisor, Sgt. Spencer Nelson, suspects that Vorak, LeBlanc and Clemmons are dead, as well as at least six other women who lived a risky lifestyle and disappeared after 1984.
Although investigators believe the Green River killer stopped killing in 1984, that has come into question recently with the slaying of several women whose bodies have been found near North Bend and Enumclaw, areas where Green River victims were discovered.
"We had, over a period of several years, a number of missing prostitutes, some of whom were the victims of the same suspect and some of whom weren't," said Nelson. "Whether that stops magically in 1984 or continues beyond that isn't known. . . . These dates we associate with the Green River may be somewhat artificial."
Fearing the return of the Green River killer or the existence of one or more other serial killers, King County police have quietly geared up efforts to keep track of potential victims.
LAW OFFICERS CONFER
After a 19-year-old prostitute was found dead five months ago in a wooded area near North Bend - almost a year to the day of the discovery of the body of another teenage prostitute - county police met with several law-enforcement agencies whose jurisdictions include parts of what is known as the Sea-Tac strip, a portion of Highway 99 east of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport known for prostitution.
All agreed to begin interviewing all women arrested for prostitution, said Nelson. Doing the jail interviews and completing a one-page questionnaire on each woman was Jensen's idea.
The questionnaire focuses on things that would help police identify a woman if she is killed.
If the Green River case is any indication, there may be dead women in the woods of King County who have not been found.
When the Green River Task Force was formed in 1984, King County Police believed there were only 13 Green River victims. But by then, 47 women were dead.