Daily News from New York, New York on September 8, 1974 · 23
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Daily News from New York, New York · 23

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 8, 1974
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- SUNDAY -NEWS-, SEPTEMBER 8, 1974 07 Tiie Case of the Mysterious. Stranger t X V -v ""-..if 5 4 .-A' Denise Naslund Georgann Hawkins Janice Oft Donna Manson Susan Rancourt Linda Healy In Seattle, six girls have vanished suddenly and mysteriously, leaving behind only one clue a soit spoken young man named Ted By ALTON SLAGLE IT'S AS IF THEY never existed at all. Six g-irls whose looks are strikingly similar have disappeared in the Seattle area so far this year, suddenly, mysteriously, silently, and hard-pressed police have to admit they are without a clue, save one: the eerie presence in some of the cases of a young: man named Ted. The mystery has been called the most bizarre and baffling police case in Pacific Northwest history, anil public pressure is mounting' for a solution. A solution is difficult, however, when there are no bodies, no leads to follow, no apparent motive. The mystery surrounding the six missing young women . seems to have made most people forget the four teenage girls known to have been murdered in the area in less than a year. Or that police in British Columbia, just north of Washington State, are busy investigating seven sex murders there. First Hitchhike Was Her Last Is a sexual psychopath on the loose here? There are striking similarities in the cases, and the thought is a terrifying one to young Seattle women. Even the infamous Jack the Ripper, during his 1888 rampage, killed only five women, and they were all of easy virtue. The girls missing here are all coeds or young working women, all intelligent, attractive, gentle, of excellent character. The first was Linda Ann Healy, and the date was Jan. 31, a Thursday "night. Linda, 21, a psychology student at the University of Washington, a pretty coed described as "stable" and "reliable" by her friends, lived with four other girls in a big old house at 5517 12th Ave. N.E. in the city's University District. At midnight on that fateful night, Linda said goodnight to her close friend, Joanne Testa, and went down to her basement bedroom. She was never seen again. Was a man concealed in the shadows on the south side of the house ? Did he, somehow, enter the house, inch silently down the basement steps, enter Linda's room, hold his hand over 1 er mouth, order her to dress and foice her out at knifepoint? Karen Skavlem, 21, whose room is next to Linda's, separated only by a thin plywood wall, remembers that the room was dark when she came home at 1 :30 a.m. Linda's clock radio was set for 5:30, so she could be on time for her job at the Northwest Skier, where she read radio reports of ski conditions. When it went off Friday morning, the room was empty. Linda's bicycle, her only form of transportation, was not touched. None of her coats was missing. Her wallet was left behind. She left wearing bell-bottom blue jeans, a white blouse and hiking boots. A yellow ski cap and her red knapsack were missing, along with her pillow case. A saucer-sized spot of blood was found on her pillow; more was on her nightgown. Another loose end is even more baffling: Linda's bed was made, almost meticulously. It was out of character: Linda seldom bothered to make her bed in the morning. None of her housemates could recall having locked the side door. Such things didn't matter for long, however. They quickly moved out of the big green house They no longer felt confortable there. Joanne Testa recalled that. two. nights before Linda's disappearance, an jmideiw., tified man had fled when he was found in the basement of a home two doors away. Earlier that week, she said, a prowler had been reported outside a nearby apartment house, testing a door with one hand and holding a knife in the other. Linda's instructors remember her as a "very good" student who was deeply interested in music and sang in an oratorio group. She is 5 feet 7, weighs 115 pounds, has blue eyes, long brown hair, a fair complexion and. a friend recalled, "very sparkling teeth." The description is amazingly similar to that of Donna Gail Manson, 19, who walked from her dormitory room at Evergreen State College in Olympia at 7 p.m. on March 12, headed for a campus jazz concert, and disappeared. Dohna, with long brown hair and blue eyes, was known as a quiet girl, a better-than-average scholar, with no particular boy friend -but a number of friends, and no special problems. The three girls left in the room when Donna walked out, including Deanna Ray, her roommate, said she had been concerned about her appearance, and had changed clothes several times. But she made no mention of having a date, or meeting anyone. She left wearing a red, oransre and green-striped blouse, green slacks and a distinctive plush black maxi-coat, square-shouldered and belted. She had S20, but did not take the camera which she carried practically everywhere. One fact bothered sheriff's deputies investigating Donna's mysterious disappearance: she was known as an "almost constant" hitchhiker. Two murders top a long list of hitchhiking-related crimes in the files of state police. The nude body of one of these victims, college coed Laura L. Brock, 20. was found on a Whidbey Island logging road on Sept. 14, 1972. A student at Western Washington State College, she was on her first hitchhiking trip, a three-dav excursion to the Olympic Peninsula. 'On Dec. 6, 1973, the partly-clad body of Kathleen Merry Devine, who would have been 15 on Christmas Day, was found in a forest near Olympia bv some workmen. She had been raped. She was last seen about 8:20 p.m. Nov. 25, hitchhiking. Kathleen, 5 feet 8, and 120 pounds with long brown hair, was wearing a peasant blouse, navy bell-bottom pants and an imitation suede coat. These murders have not been solved. Police insist there is no evidence to suggest a connection with the missing women, but it does appear that the same person killed both girls. Their throats had been slit, and they were dumped in the same area, on opposite sides of Interstate 5. The mysterious disappearances resumed on April 17 when a straight "A" biology student failed to return to her dorm room at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg from a campus meeting. Susan Elaine Rancourt, 18, 5 fee 2, blonde and blue eyed, was not the type to pull stunts, or to disappear leaving no word with friends or instructors. "This is totally untypical of anything she had done in the past," said Robert Miller, dean of students at the school, some 90 miles east of Seattle. Susan had put her laundry in a machine at the dorm and then walked three blocks on campus to a training session for potential living -group advisers, which broke up about 10:30 p.m. She had planned to dry her clothes after the , meeting. Her disturbed roommate reported her missing1 at ,3 .a.m.t She was last seeu wearing a yellow coat and yellow, short sleeved sweater, with gray pants and brown shoes. "The only thing she had with her when she went to the meeting were her dorm keys," said her anguished mother, Mrs. Dale Rancourt, of Anchorage, Alaska. "So far," she said sadly, "there are no leads." The next disappearance was equally baffling. The scene shifted this time back to the University of Washington, to the back yard of three sorority and three fraternity houses along Greek Row, an alley generally alive with the sound of cars, conversation, laughter. Georgann Hawkins, 18, pretty, brunette, a top student and resident of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house, had attended a party not far off Greek Row on the night of June 10. At 1 a.m., she said good night and, accompanied by her roommate, Laura Heffron, left for her room to study for a Spanish final the next day. The two girls walked to the north end of Greek Row, and parted. Laura went home; Georgann entered the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house to sav good night to her boy friend. Marvin Gellatly, 22. A half hour later, she left through the back door into the alley and paused for a brief conversation with a friend, Duane Covey, who was leaning from his second floor window. Duane recalled a five -minute conversation, ended when Georgann said "adios" and began the 300 foot walk to her dorm. She never made it. Silently, she disappeared into the night. There had been distant laughter in the well-lighted alley as Duane and Georgann talked. But police have been unable to locate anyone who saw the coed walking toward her sorority house. Frustrating for poliice was the fact that there was no real evidence of a crime in any of the four disappearances. "At this point," said Seattle homicide Lt. Pat Murphy after Georgann disappeared, "we couldn't arrest a suspect even if we had one." On July 14, a mystery man named "Ted" emerged. Ted, about 5 feet 7, charming, good looking, in his 20s, with a medium build and longish light brown hair, appeared at crowded Lake Sam-mamish State Park on the edge of Seattle. He wore expensive-looking white tennis shoes, socks, shorts and T-shiirt, and he had a sling and cast on his left arm. Ted Has a Persuasive Manner Shortly before noon, Ted approached a woman on the beach and asked for help in putting a sailboat on top of his car. The woman agreed, and went with him to the parking lot. But a few feet short of his bronze Volkswagen, the woman asked about the boat. He apologized. The boat, he said, was at his parents' house "up the hill." The woman backed out. A short time later, witnesses recalled, Ted approached Mrs. Janice A. Ott, 23, a petite blonde sunning on the beach. They talked for a short while, she put cutoff jeans and a white pullover over her blue bikini and left with him, headed for the parking lot. She pushed her yellow 10-speed bike. Janice Ott had taken the bait. She was never seen again. But Ted was. Four hours later, he was back on the beach, talking to other women, at least three. His sailboat story was the same, his approach friendly, disarming. Finally, another girl apparently fell victim. Denise Marie Naslund, 18, was not. ; seen with Ted. But the circumstances ' The only clue to the baffling disappearances is this police sketch of "Ted," who was seen with at least one of the missing girls. of her disappearance indicate that she could have become his prey. Denise, 5 feet 4, 110 pounds, with, brown eyes and hair, a Seattle part time secretary studying computer programing, had gone to the beach with her boy friend, Ken Little, and another couple. About 4:30 p.m., she walked to a rest room, where she was briefly seen talking with an unidentified woman. Denise, wearing cutoff shorts and a dark halter top, was barefoot. When she failed to return to her friends, they began a long search. They found no sign of her. She had left her dog, her car, her purse, her brown sandals and her bathing suit behind. A search by 100 volunteers of the 400-acre park and the surrounding area turned up no clues. Police pleaded for all who took pictures at the park that day to lend them the phots. Nothing. At least two women approached by Ted that day submitted to questioning under hypnosis. Again, nothing. Infra-red aerial photos showed no ground or foliage disturbed. Janice's husband, James Ott, 27, who had been attending a workstudy program in prosthetic devices in California, waiting for her to join him in September, saiid his wife called him at 10 each night. There was no call on Sunday, July 14, and Monday night he went to sleep by the phone. "A voice woke me up in the night," he recalled. "There was just one word 'Jim.' She called my name." Slowly, more frightening facts emerged. On April 17, the day Susan Rancourt disappeared from Central Washington State College, a young man wearing an arm cast approached a coed there, asking help in carrying packages to his car. She refused. Four days later, the man asked a college library worker there for help in getting some books to his car. She helped, but refused to get In the car when he asked her to start It for him. His pleasant voice became firmer. He ordered her into the car. She ran. Just 30 minutes before Georgann Hawkins disappeared, a University of Washington coed helped a young man matching Ted's description across ft street on that campus. His left leg was in a cast, and he was on crutches. She left him on the corner opposite the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, next door to Kappa Alpha Theta, where Georgann lived. Seven months. Six girls. NotMr.g. Now other young girls here are afraid of the night, afraid to be alone. Afraid Tf -a. soft-spoken- strangernamedTed.

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