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The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
by Robert Keppel
July 15, 1982: 3 woman's strangled body was filed, caught on the pilings of Washington state's Green River. Before long, the "Green River Killer" would be suspected in at least 49 homicides, with no end in sight. Then authorities received a letter from Bundy -- on death row -- offering to help catch the Green River Killer. But he would only talk to Robert Keppel, the former homicide detective who helped track Bundy's cross-county killing spree.

"Green River was so difficult because it had no timely suspect data that the police could go on. They'd find out that some prostitute was identified from the bones, and go back and interview the people who last saw her, 6 or 8 months later." -- Bob Keppel, retired WA State Investigator who worked on the case and author of "Riverman."

Looking back, the lack of scientific tools was a hindrance, Kraske said.

"Perhaps at that time, we were looking at (psychological) profiles as being as good an investigative source as DNA today," he said. There was so much information, and detectives didn't have a computer to analyze it. By 1983, Kraske transferred to another precinct. "The thing was totally disorganized when I left."

An FBI psychological profile of the Green River killer, written by John Douglas, then an FBI special agent with the Behavioral Science Unit, Quantico, VA in the summer of 1982, revised in 1984 was so vague it could have been 1/2 the men in King County.

In March 1984, a revised profile gave more details based on additional evidence from crime scenes, additional victims and additional experience with psychopathic serial offenders. Psychological profiling may be useful in eliminating suspects, but it's far from an exact science. It's an art.

Many victims had no ties, therefore nobody knew they were missing for awhile. When the skeletal remains washed up there wasn't much evidence they could be used with the limited tools and technology of the time. Only 6 bodies were found before all that was left of them were bones. 4 sets of remains are unidentified to this day.

Vern Thomas became sheriff and brought in tools for a multi-agency task force. Thomas formed a task force with more than 50 investigators from various agencies and acquired a computer system with the help of $200,000 in state money and a $1 million grant. Over 50 local police detectives and FBI investigators considered 20,000 possible suspects, they searched several homes, followed thousands of leads, interviewed victims' friends, witnesses and possible suspects.

Budget pressures and the lack of success caused the original Green River Task Force operations to dwindle by the early 1990s. The only investigator left on the case for nearly a decade was Detective Tom Jensen, who works out of the Regional Justice Center in Kent, WA. Detective Doyon has worked on the investigation over the past 16 years.

Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2006

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