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Washington Serial Killers

Washington serial killers-Click image to enlarge (PDF)

Suspected or convicted serial killers in Washington


What is a serial killer? Even the nation’s leading experts don’t agree. The most general definition is based on numbers and patterns: Two or more unrelated victims in distinctly separate incidents. The Northwest has a notorious history of these “prototype” killers — among them are Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer, who are synonymous with the term “serial killer.”

Yet other, less infamous killers have claimed scores of lives across the state. Some have been convicted of only one or two murders, but are suspected of many more. Four remain only suspects, pending trial.

Following general definitions provided by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, criminal profilers and other experts, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer compiled this list of the state’s modern-day serial killers.

It’s impossible to know if the list is comprehensive. There’s no national database of serial killers. It’s also true that some are better than others in hiding their morbid harvest. But it does show that killers often roam our state for years, exploiting holes in a law enforcement system that often fails to protect the missing or bring justice for the dead.

John R. Gasser
Student/state employee,
A Seattle University student in 1948, Gasser raped and strangled a 22-year-old carhop and dumped her body near the Sand Point Naval Station. Years after his release from prison, he raped and strangled a 49-year-old woman and dumped her body in a ditch outside Olympia in 1982.Status: In prison in Washington.

The Want Ad Killer
Harvy L. Carignan
Gas station manager
Suspected in dozens of sex-slayings spanning four decades and several Western states and provinces, Carignan is thought to have killed at least two women in Washington. He was convicted of two murders in Minnesota. He met some victims by placing newspaper help wanted ads. A map found in his Minnesota home had at least 180 areas circled — including 18 in Washington — where some bodies have been found.
Status: In prison in Minnesota.

James Dwight Canady
City water department employee,
Abducted, raped and strangled two women, then dumped their bodies near Stevens Pass. Canady later attacked two other women and was being held in King County Jail on rape, assault and kidnapping charges when he confessed to the murders, leading detectives to one body.Status: In prison in Washington.

Warren Forrest
Clark County parks employee,
Suspected of kidnapping, raping and strangling six women near Vancouver. Convicted of killing one and abducting, raping and attempting to kill two others, after serving seven years in a state mental hospital.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Gary G. Grant
Navy enlistee, Renton
Confessed to four sex-slayings, including the murders of two 6-year-old boys and two teenage girls. All victims stabbed, strangled or both, then dumped in wooded areas near a Renton trailer park where he lived with his parents.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Ted Bundy
Law student, Tacoma
One of the most infamous serial killers of modern time, the former Tacoma man and University of Washington law student is thought to have killed at least 36 young women and girls in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Colorado and Florida.
Status: Executed in Florida in 1989.

James Elledge
Part-time church janitor, Lynnwood
Attacked at least four women over 33-year span, killing two. Crimes include a 1966 robbery/kidnapping in Albuquerque, N.M.; a 1974 bludgeoning murder in Seattle; and the1998 fatal stabbing of one woman and sexual assault of another in a Lynnwood church.
Status: Executed in Washington in 2001.

James Edward Ruzicka
Stable cleaner, Redmond
Deemed a “sexual psychopath” after attacking two Seattle women, he escaped Western State Hospital, then raped and strangled two teenagers in West Seattle. He hung the body of one victim from a tree and hid the other in a field. He was arrested in Oregon after raping a 13-year-old girl.
Status: In prison in Washington.

The Phantom Sniper:
Gary A. Taylor
Escaped mental patient, Burien
Abducted, shot and buried a Burien housewife. Suspected of killing as many as three women in Michigan, where he spent 15 years in mental hospitals. Texas authorities suspect him of killing at least one woman and sexually assaulting four others, and at one time questioned him about 16 sniper shootings on Texas freeways.
Status: In prison in Washington.

William Batten
Car lot worker, Aberdeen
Committed to state psychiatric hospital as a “sexual psychopath” following child molestations in 1967. Stabbed two teenage hitchhikers to death near Moclips in 1975. He remains a suspect in the 1969 disappearance of a woman he had dated.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Robert Lee Yates Jr.
Aluminum plant worker and Army Reserve helicopter pilot, Spokane
Killed a string of prostitutes in Spokane and Pierce County since 1996. Admitted to 16 murders, convicted of 15. Typically would pick up prostitutes, shoot them and engage in post-mortem sex. Grew up on Whidbey Island and lived in several Washington cities.
Status: On death row in Washington.

The Hillside Strangler:
Kenneth Bianchi
Security-alarm installer, Bellingham
Strangled at least seven women and left their bodies on hillsides in Los Angeles. Also killed two Western Washington University students in Bellingham in 1979. He worked with an adopted “cousin” convicted of nine similar murders in Los Angeles.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Morris Frampton
Sprinkler system installer, Seattle
Beat to death a Seattle prostitute, then dumped her body near the South Park marina. Also convicted of assaulting two other Seattle prostitutes and acquitted of killing another.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Stanley Bernson
Produce salesman, Spokane
Suspected of killing up to 30 Northwest women, Bernson stabbed a 15-year-old girl to death and buried her in a shallow grave in Richland. Authorities in Oregon also charged him for the 1978 murder of a Umatilla teenager, whose body was found in 1985.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Lewiston Valley Killer
Identity unknown
Believed responsible for five murders and disappearances in the Clarkston, Wash.- Lewiston, Idaho, area from 1979-82. Some victims were dismembered and dumped in a river. Two bodies have never been found. Victims include three young women, a girl and a man.
Status: Investigators have a suspect, but have never made an arrest.

The I-5 Killer:
Randy Woodfield
Bartender, Eugene/Portland, Ore.
Suspect in at least 13 homicides, including three in Washington. Best known for robbing, raping andkilling women in communities along Interstate 5 from Bellevue to Redding, Calif. Often wore a false beard and hooded sweat shirt during his attacks.
Status: In prison in Oregon.

Martin Lee Sanders
Long-haul trucker, Spokane
Convicted of raping and killing two teenagers in Spokane in 1983. He also killed two teenage female hitchhikers in Grant County in 1980. Avoided prosecution in those murders by later pleading guilty to the Spokane homicides.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Coin Shop Killer:
Charles Sinclair
Transient, Deming
Suspected in six murders in Washington state, including the killings of an elderly couple whose bodies have not been found. Robbed, raped and killed across several other Western states, including two suspected murders in Montana, two in California and one attempted murder in Utah. Sinclair often preyed on coin shops and their employees.
Status: Died in jail in Alaska.

The .22 Caliber Killer
Identity unknown, Spokane.
The same killer is believed to be responsible for three slayings of women found dumped near the Spokane River in 1990.
All of the victims were known prostitutes shot with the same .22 caliber gun. Investigators once looked at the crimes in relation to a string of prostitute killings in Spokane that Robert Lee Yates Jr. later confessed to. But the Army helicopter pilot was later ruled out as the murderer in these cases, as he was stationed in Germany at the time of the killings.
First known murder 1990.
Status: Unsolved.

(Note: This entry was added after the original publication of this list.)

Dwayne Elton
Army sergeant, Fort Lewis.
Shot and killed one prostitute, strangled and sliced the throat of another. Elton dumped his victims near Madigan Army Hospital in 1984. The Seattle native later pleaded guilty to the killings in military court to avoid a death sentence.
Status: In military prison in Kansas.

William Scott Smith
Unemployed cook, Salem, Ore.
Convicted of two counts of aggravated murder for the sex slayings of two young Salem women in separate attacks in the spring of 1984. Smith was also questioned in the 1983 unsolved murder of a 14-year-old girl in Idaho. Although not officially a suspect in any Washington murders, Green River investigators at one time looked at him in relation to serial killings in this state. Smith also has family ties to Pierce County.
Status: In prison in Oregon.

Billy Ray Ballard Jr.
Truck driver, Plains, Mont.
Confessed to killing a Seattle couple who disappeared while sightseeing in the Columbia River Gorge. Their bodies were recovered at different times, dumped 30 miles apart, in rural Grant County. Ballard’s arrest for the abduction, rape and torture of two women in Wyoming months later helped investigators match his fingerprint to one left on the Washington couple’s abandoned car.
Status: In prison in Wyoming.

Joe Kondro
Laborer, mill worker, Longview
Admits to raping and strangling two young girls in Southwest Washington — killings more than 11 years apart. Convicted of two other rapes, he also admits to abducting a teenage store clerk at knifepoint. Suspect in dozens of disappearances, rapes and murders since 1982.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Gary A. Shaw
Unemployed, Tacoma
Convicted of raping and killing two Tacoma women in separate attacks in early 1985. Shaw dumped his victim’s bodies in wooded areas of Pierce County.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Daniel Yates
Tattoo artist, Bremerton
Convicted of raping and killing a 13-year-old girl — one of three hitchhikers he picked up, abducted and tortured. Yates also raped and tried to kill a 12-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl during the same attack. Later charged with killing a 35-year-old housemate in Oklahoma.
Status: In undisclosed out-of-state prison.

Dismemberment Murders
Identity unknown
One killer could be responsible for three murders in which the victims’ bodies were dismembered and dumped in remote areas inSnohomish County. One victim was a Bulgarian organized crime figure whose body was found in 1987, but wasn’t identified for 10 years. Another was a Korean immigrant from Bothell with a record for prostitution. Her body was found with the remains of a third man, who has never been identified, in 1991.
Status: Unsolved.

John Bill Fletcher Jr.
Convicted in 2001 of two stabbing murders of Yakima-area women in 1987. He was a convicted rapist already serving more than 46 years for a similar 1987 sex attack when he confessed to the slayings.
Status: In prison in Washington.

The Index Killer
Identity unknown
One killer may be responsible for murders of two Seattle women whose bodies were dumped in the Index area in 1988. Both victims, known prostitutes and drug users, were stabbed. Three other women — two found dead nearby and a 14-year-old runaway last seen with one of the murder victims — may also be victims.
Status: Unsolved.

Westley Allan Dodd
Shipping clerk, Clark County
Raped, tortured and killed three boysin Vancouver-Portland area. Caught after he tried to abduct a boy from a Camas movie theater. Admitted to molesting about 30 children.
Status: Executed in Washington in 1993.

Scott William Cox
Long-haul trucker, Newberg, Ore.
Stabbed one prostitute and strangled another in Portland. Suspected in more than 20 other murders, including the 1988 homicide of Snohomish County transient Hazel Gelnett and the 1990 murder of Tia Hicks, a Seattle woman whose body was found in Montlake Terrace. Also suspected of raping and trying to kill a Seattle prostitute in May 1991.
Status: In prison in Oregon.

Happy Face Killer:
Keith Jesperson
Long-haul trucker,
Yakima Valley/Portland
Confessed to eight murders in five states. Jesperson typically raped, beat and strangled truck-stop prostitutes and transients, then dumped bodies along wooded roadsides. Sent taunting letters to media and authorities, signed with a “happy face.” Caught after killing his girlfriend near Camas.
Status: In prison in Oregon.

Eastside Serial Killer:
George Russell
Unemployed, Mercer Island
Raped and killed three women he met in Eastside bars, leaving their bodies in particular poses. A small-time burglar/con-artist who pretended to be a cop, Russell made his living off women he met, through trickery and theft.
Status: In prison in Washington.

The Box Car Killer:
Robert “Sidetrack” Silveria
Railroad transient
Claimed to have killed 28 drifters while riding box cars in seven states, mostly bludgeoning his victims with rocks and axes. Convicted of four murders — two in Oregon, one each in Kansas and Florida. Seven other murders also have been directly linked to him, though Silveria was never tried for these crimes. Member of the Freight Train Riders of America, a loose-knit gang of transients, Silveria frequently traveled to Washington from 1988 to 1996. He was questioned about a transient’s death in Klickitat County.
Status: In prison in Oregon.

Jack Owen Spillman III
Laborer, East Wenatchee
Raped, murdered and mutilated three females, including a 9-year-old girl, and a mother and her teenage daughter in a separate attack. Also charged with rape and robbery in Kent.
Status: In prison in Washington.

Robert Lee Parker
Unemployed, Shoreline
Separately killed two neighbor women and set fire to their Shoreline apartments in 1995. Also is suspected of shooting and killing a man in a passing car in 1996. (Note: Details of the 1996 incident were incorrectly reported when this list was originally published.) Parker, an Arkansas fugitive who lived with his girlfriend in Shoreline, is suspected of a similar murder-arson that left one woman dead in Georgia in 1995.
Status: In prison in Washington.

The Railroad Killer:
Rafael Resendez Ramirez
Day laborer, transient
Robbed and killed at least eight people who lived near or spent time on railroad tracks around the Midwest and South in the late 1990s. Has not been named as a suspect in any Washington state crimes, but is known to have been in Seattle, the Tri-Cities and Spokane in 1996.
Status: On death row in Texas.

Dewayne Lee Harris
Killed three prostitutes and transient women in Seattle. Typically would bind his victims’ wrists and ankles with their shoelaces, gag them with their under clothes and strangle them, then leave bodies in vacant city lots.
Status: In prison in Washington.

John Eric Armstrong
U.S. Navy, Bremerton/Detroit, Mich.
Claims to have killed two women and a transsexual man in Seattlewhile stationed on the Bremerton-based USS Nimitz from 1993 to 1999, plus eight others worldwide. Convicted of five Detroit-area prostitute murders. Police discount many of his claims.
Status: In prison in Michigan.

2 responses to “Washington Serial Killers

  1. Alicia July 29, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    Why is it ok for evil psychopaths to breath contently in jail, after they beyond tortured and mutilated etc innocents to their death. Violently inflicting young lives, innocent lives in general to a horrifying end. Sentinceing the Family and friends of the murderd to a Continuous Hell.
    Not that the most excruciating torture device can compare to the punishment they deserve. But we should at least give them as close to that as possible.

  2. Michael October 18, 2012 at 4:53 AM

    can you look and see if theres any infomation of a robert j. clark, a serial killer in Spokaen Wa.

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