Lynn Everson's "bad-trick list" has an inventory of 143 johns. "Red Toyota pickup--white male. gun, bat. Says he's cop, is not...Yellow Chrysler 4-door--white male, hand saw...Green Pickup with tinted windows--young white male, strangled woman till she passed out...Blue Honda, 2-door--white male, rapist, Eastern bloc accent..." The Spokane health worker, affectionately nicknamed "Mother Rubber," hands out condoms, cookies and clean needles from a Winnebago parked on East Sprague Street. Hookers too need someone to watch over them--especially when so many were winding up murdered.
Along East Sprague, where the clamor of freight trains punctuates the night and the Rainbow Tavern advertises "cold beer and hot women," a giant billboard remains standing. In large black letters it demands HELP US FIND OUR KILLER! above photographs--some smiling, some sullen--of Sherry, Shannon and Shawn, of Melody, Melinda and Michelyn, of Sunny, Heather, Laurie and Linda. The first three bodies turned up in 1990 along forested roadsides outside Spokane. Another was found two years later, then another in 1995.
In the summer of 1997, the fatal shootings began to fall too thick and fast to be coincidental. On Aug. 26 two bodies were found in different parts of town: Heather Hernandez, 20, a drifter, and Jennifer Joseph, 16, a runaway, last seen in the passenger seat of a white Corvette speeding down East Sprague. By December, five more victims were discovered. All were shot in the head with handguns and found dumped by roadsides with plastic grocery bags over their heads. None had purses or wallets. As many as 18 murders in Washington State from 1990 to 1998 may be linked to one killer. The inquiry has also widened to include unsolved murders of 26 prostitutes near U.S. Army bases in Germany.
The killer, it seems, was never on Everson's bad-trick list. He left no decipherable signature: the bags tied around his victims' heads were more likely an effort to contain the blood than a symbol of suburban anonymity. Even FBI psycho profilers were stymied, offering only that the perpetrator was probably a white male age 20 to 40. When a suspect was finally arrested, hookers recalled him as a regular, paying cash several times a month for a $28.95 room at the Spokane Budget Saver Motel. "He was a good trick," says Everson. "He was never weird. The women were happy to see him coming. Now they're asking, 'Why didn't he kill me?'"