There are some serial murders, like the Hillside Strangler, the Atlanta Murders, and the Night Stalker, that attract nationwide media coverage and generate massive public outrage.
There are others, like the Green River Murder Case, that don’t.
The Green River Case is an on-going, unsolved (at this writing) murder case that started nearly four years ago, on July 15, 1982, when the body of 16-year-old Wendy lee Coffield was found in the Green River near Seattle, Washington.
To date, investigators have made no arrests and list 61 women as possible victims of the murderer. However, this number could go as high as 140, the number of victims carried on a fact sheet put out by the Women’s Coalition to Stop the Green River Murders, in Seattle. This list includes women killed in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Portland, Salem, Tualatin, Vancouver, as well as Seattle.
The victims in Seattle and other cities have been mostly young, black prostitutes, a fact that the Women’s Coalition says is one reason there has been no arrest made. “If the women were more middle class it would have been handled a lot differently,” Cookie Hunt of the Coalition maintains. The Green River Task Force, which is investigating the murders, says this is not so. “We don’t know how close we are, but we are getting closer (to solving the case),” Fae Brooks, a Task Force spokeswoman said in 1985.
Police feel that top suspects have several things in common, including a job that allows freedom of movement, presence in the area during the killings, rape and murder convictions, and violence toward women. It is believed that the killer is a white male from 20 to 40 years old. Some sources in Seattle, however, feel that the killer also may be a policeman since many of the victims were known to be armed but no attacker has been shot.
The mixed public feelings about the case, possibly because of the type of victims, is evidenced by an authority on serial murders who asked “How much money and time is it worth to catch this killer?”.
As of February, of this year, the Task Force has spent $8 million. Only recently did the FBI enter the case.
Given the media’s normal tendency to sensationalize serial murders, it surely is odd that the Green River Murder Case has received so little attention.
SEATTLE TIMES, 6/8/85, “Task Force pressing police to get more involved in hunt for Killer,” by Thomas Guillen; Women’s Coalition to Stop the green River Murder, Green River Murders Fact Sheet; SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 2/17/86, “Prostitutes chide cops’ probe of serial slayings,” by Katherine Seligman, and “‘Green River Killer’ task force follows a cold trail,” by Herbert A. Michelson; THE PROGRESSIVE, October 1984, “The Green River Flows Red,” by Roberta Penn; EVERETT HERALD, 7/16/85, “Protests, vigils mark the 3rd anniversary of Green River Case,” AP Wire Service.