News

Serial killer case broadens

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

In a rapid chain of events last week in the Green River Killer case, one suspected victim was identified and another possible victim was discovered.

The King County medical examiner, using DNA tests, confirmed Friday that bone fragments found near Snoqualmie in August were from April Dawn Buttram. She was 17 when she disappeared in 1983. She later was listed by authorities as a possible victim of the serial killer.

On Sunday, a search of an area between Auburn and Federal Way uncovered skeletal remains that the medical examiner confirmed were human. They remained unidentified Monday as searching at the site continued.

Coming after Pammy Avent, Buttram was the second suspected victim whose remains were discovered and identified in the last two months. Avent’s were found near Enumclaw.

Last week, another site near Enumclaw was searched by investigators from the King County Sheriff Department. They also searched locations in the North Bend and Auburn areas.

The Auburn-area search was in the 29000 block of 65th Avenue South, where Sunday’s discovery of human bones occurred. No human remains or clues in the Green River case were reported from the North Bend site.

The searches and discoveries of remains have occurred since Gary Ridgway, the former Federal Way-area resident accused in seven of the 49 murders of women attributed to the Green River Killer, reportedly began cooperating with authorities in exchange for avoiding a possible death sentence if he’s convicted.

Officials involved in the investigation and Ridgway’s prosecution haven’t confirmed any attempted deal-making, but it’s believed through other sources that Ridgway is directing authorities to locations — generally wooded or covered with dense brush — where victims’ bodies were dumped.

Kathleen Larson, a detective and spokeswoman for the sheriff’s Green River Task Force, said Monday morning that the remains found near 65th Avenue South were apparently from one person. A closer search of the site began Monday morning and was expected to continue most of the day.

The site is about a mile from an area near Star Lake Road where five victims of the killer were found in the 1980s. It’s also near the river where the first known victims were discovered, giving the case its name.

Larson said the 65th Avenue location, “a huge ravine,” was searched in July by the task force. Last week, detectives and volunteers cut and removed heavy brush at the bottom of the ravine before working their way up a hillside. They found the human remains about 20 feet up, Larson said.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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