Robert Lee Yates Jr.
The Body Count Continues
Two more Caucasian female bodies were found the day after Christmas, Friday, December 26, 1997, in the 4800 block of East 14th Avenue in Spokane. Unlike many of the previous bodies, these two were fully clothed—except that they were both missing their shoes. Both of the bodies were covered with debris from a wide variety of vegetation alien to the area—lace leaf maple, Arbor Vitae, birch, rose, hydrangea, Oregon grape, maple, honey locust, forsythia, Japanese barberry, Chrysanthemum, among others. In addition to the vegetation, crime scene investigators recovered soil, rocks, concrete pieces, wood pieces, white paint chips, a red dyed feather, peanut shells, cherry pits, and a plastic plant identification tag like that found on a plant at a nursery that read "Sweet William."
The bodies were identified as Laurel A. Wason, 31, and Shawn A. McClenahan, 39. Each of the victims had three plastic bags over their heads, and autopsies showed that each had been shot to death. As with all of the other victims, the site where their bodies were found was believed to have been only a dumping site after their murders occurred elsewhere. It was also determined that Laurel Wason was wearing a black trench coat when last seen, and Shawn McClenahan was wearing a blue nylon coat. Both coats were missing from their bodies and were not recovered. Were these additional trophies for the killer to savor? The police could only guess at this point.
Since it appeared that a substantial attempt had been made to conceal the bodies, along with the fact that a large variety of debris and plant material was used, the investigators theorized that the debris and plant material may have been brought from the suspect's home or other place that he had access to. They noted that when a suspect was eventually identified, comparisons of the vegetation and debris material could be made with that found at the suspect's premises and could prove important in forming a link between the perpetrator and the dumpsite locations.
On Sunday, February 28, 1998, two full months into the new year, a white female body was discovered in a ditch on Graham Road in a rural area of Spokane County. The body was identified as that of 41-year-old Sunny G. Oster, a known prostitute and drug user. Oster's body was fully clothed, and a pair of shoes had been discarded near the body. Oster died of gunshot wounds, and three plastic bags had been placed over her head.
The last time anyone saw Oster alive was on November 1, 1997, while she was working as a prostitute on East Sprague. She had been carrying a beige purse, which was not located and which police believe may have been taken as a trophy.