The Fetish Killer
On November 26, 1968, Jan Whitney, 23, disappeared as she was on her way home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Her Rambler was found off the highway in a rest area near Albany, Oregon. It was locked, but there was no sign of her. Vronsky indicated that a minor mechanical failure might have induced her to look for a ride from someone. These were the days when girls freely hitch-hiked along the West Coastand when predators realized how easy it was to grab them and kill them without anyone being the wiser. There were no leads. Like Slawson, she was just gone.
Four months later, on March 27, 1969, Karen Sprinker, 19, went missing. Vronsky says that she was home from college and her mother had expected to meet her for lunch at a downtown restaurant. She waited an hour and then grew worried. Karen would not have missed this appointment. In fact, it turned out that she did park her car at the garage for the store where her mother was waiting. But the car sat empty and Karen never returned to claim it. Shoppers in the area described seeing a very tall and strange-looking woman in the area. One witness said that when this person got close to her, she saw that it was a man in drag. He seemed fairly creepy, so people had avoided him. There was no reason then to link him to this incident, but in retrospect, it all went together.
Only four weeks later, Linda Salee, 22, appeared to have been abducted from a shopping mall. She'd been there buying a gift for her boyfriend, but had failed to meet him that evening. She also did not show up to work, and her car was found abandoned. Like the others, there was no sign if violence in the car, or any that a stranger had entered it. Of course, her boyfriend was checked out, but nothing indicated that he should remain a suspect. In the days following her disappearance, no sign of Salee turned up.
The police wondered if there were any connections among these girls, and a few even thought about Linda Slawson, the encyclopedia salesperson. They laid out time lines, noting the fact that all of the girls had disappeared toward the latter half of each month. And all of them were young white females. But that's as much as the investigators had. That is, until human remains were found in a nearby river.