Three more of Terry Rasmussen’s victims identified

It hit the news today (see here on Boston 25 news and here on the Daily Beast, among other places) that authorities have identified three of the four victims found in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire.

It’s an infamous case. The bodies were found wrapped in plastic and electrical wiring, in two barrels, close to each other: one barrel was located in 1985, and another in 2000. One young woman, and three little girls, two of whom were shown by DNA to be her own daughters. They all died around the same time, sometime between 1977 and 1981.

Now, three of them have names: Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch and her daughters, Marie Elizabeth Vaughn and Sarah Lynn McWaters. They disappeared from California in 1978, shortly after Marlyse started dating Terrance Peder Rasmussen. Marlyse was then 24, and the girls were 7 (Marie) and 11 months (Sarah). It doesn’t look like they lived long afterwards.

Rasmussen is a very unusual serial killer, in that he formed romantic relationships with women and sometimes even had children by them before killing them. He committed his final murder in 2001, that of his wife Eunsoon Joon, and died in prison in 2010. At the time, his other crimes were mostly undiscovered.

Denise Beaudin, who disappeared in 1981 at age 23 and listed on Charley, is presumed one of his victims, but her body hasn’t been found. She had an infant daughter at the time of her disappearance (not Rasmussen’s kid), and that little girl was abandoned by Rasmussen in California in 1985. It was the best thing he ever did for her, because as a result she was raised by a good family and apparently doing well. She has chosen not to speak to the media or let her current identity be known.

The fourth person found in the barrels at Bear Brook State park is still unidentified, but DNA proved she’s Rasmussen’s biological daughter. She was a toddler, about two to four years old when she died. She may have Native American ancestry.

There’s a good chance the little girl’s mother is also dead. Rasmussen was arrested under the name Robert “Bob” Evans for minor charges in New Hampshire in 1980, and he had a woman living with him who called herself Elizabeth Evans and said she was his wife. Perhaps this is the mother of the child in the barrel.

More on Randi Boothe-Wilson

This article has some more on the disappearance and identification of Randi Stacey Boothe-Wilson, which I blogged about the other day. Included in the article is a color photo of Boothe-Wilson. It looks like she was light-skinned and had straight hair, which might explain why the body, when it was found, was thought to be a white woman.

They got the DNA sample from “a stamp from a letter purportedly sent by Boothe-Wilson.” That’s clever. Sometimes investigators have to get creative. I read about another article today that was accomplished by fingerprints, and they got the prints, not from an arrest or military record, but from a pawnshop. When you pawn something you have to give a fingerprint.

(The stamp thing wouldn’t work for me. I loathe the taste of them and I buy stamps with sticky backs, or I use a wet sponge to dampen them.)

So it looks like Randi really did send that goodbye letter. It says the cause and manner of death is unknown, as of course is how she made her way to North Carolina. Such a strange case.

Florida Jane Doe identified as Randi Boothe-Wilson

Per this article, a woman who was found in a wooded area in Jacksonville, Florida North Carolina [sorry I am dumb] in December 1995 has been identified as Randi Stacey Boothe-Wilson, missing since October 1994.

I’m pretty surprised by this. The image of the unidentified woman shows what appears to be a white person with light brown hair. Randi was black. She also didn’t disappear anywhere near Jacksonville; she went missing from New York City, something like 1000 570 miles up the coast.

The photos I have of Randi are black and white though, and not in the best quality, so it’s hard to tell what she looked like. And she left some goodbye notes, so perhaps she left New York voluntarily, traveled to Florida North Carolina and met her end there.

I’m glad her family will finally get SOME answers, anyway, although the identification seems to ask a lot more questions.

Well, this is absolutely terrible

So I’m trying to ease back into things, still not feeling the greatest, and I ran Nelda Louise Hardwick‘s name through Newspapers.com and came across an awful story.

Nelda may have been killed along Interstate 10 in Hancock County, Mississippi on May 10, 1998, four and a half years after her disappearance from Lake Charles, Louisiana on October 14, 1993.

The unidentified woman was a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle on the interstate. In 2013, Nelda’s family identified the dead woman as her based on photos of the body.

The coroner was quoted as saying there was just “one chance in a thousand” that the body wasn’t Nelda, and speculated she was held captive the entire time and somehow managed to finally escape, only to be killed on the road.

An exhumation was duly ordered, but when they dug up the Jane Doe’s grave in St. Joseph Cemetery, they found a MAN in the coffin, not a woman. The judge ordered the proceedings stopped, writing, “Unfortunately, it appears that the remains at the Jane Doe headstone were not those of Jane Doe. Further, the chief medical examiner advises it is obvious that the location of her grave is unknown.”

So Nelda is still listed among the missing, and this Jane Doe is now missing as well and will probably NEVER be identified now.

I cannot imagine how devastating this must have been for Nelda’s family.

40-year-old disappearance finally resolved

Margret Dodd disappeared from Beckley, West Virginia on September 7, 1977 — nearly forty years ago (I won’t quibble over two months). She was 27 years old and was witnessed being dragged, screaming, into someone’s car. James Hendree subsequently demanding a $10k ransom for her safe return. An FBI agent posed as Margret’s dad to meet Hendree for the handoff, and wound up shooting him after an altercation.

Margret’s body was found on Bolt Mountain in 1993, but it wasn’t identified until now. According to this article, her family recognized the clothes and jewelry found with the body, and mitochondrial DNA confirmed the match.

I’m happy for her family. The police are still investigating the case and there might be prosecutions in the future, as it seems unlikely that Hendree acted alone.

Raymond Matlock identified

Per Charley Project Irregular Jennifer C., Raymond Lee Matlock, who disappeared during an elk hunting trip in Washington in November in 1998, was identified last December. His remains were actually found less than a month after he disappeared; it appears he drowned in the Bone River, which feeds into the Pacific, and his body drifted some 125 miles up the Washington coast to Vancouver Island.

Such a long journey is unusual for drifting bodies, and that’s a big part of the reason Matlock remained unidentified for 18 years. But I think this case is also a good example of why detailed clothing descriptions are important wherever possible. The body was found wearing a distinctive t-shirt with a drawing of a truck, surfboards and the words “Jimmy Z” — something the police at the time might help identify him, except that if anyone knew what Matlock was wearing when he disappeared, they never bothered to say.

The management of the Washington cemetery where he was buried combined forces with a local crematory to exhume his remains, cremate them and ship them to his mom in Texas at no cost to her. That was nice of them.

Strike that, reverse it

Remember my happy announcement that Linda Pagnano was identified with help from Carl Koppelman’s forensic art and Websleuther Ice190’s research? Well, erm, it turns out the announcement was a bit premature. Carl got the news from Linda’s family that dental records proved it was her, but it seems the medical examiner wants to wait for DNA results to make it official.

Sorry about that, y’all.

That said, I’d be VERY surprised if this body turned out to be someone other than Linda. See for yourself at the above link; all the stats match and she very closely resembles Carl’s drawing of the UID.