October 1998 – Bellingham, Washington, US. 20-year-old Keri Lynn was visiting relatives in Bellingham, Washington, and she had gone on a day outing to a city park near Mt. Baker. However, she never came home. Her friends described Keri Lynn as an innocent, trusting, and carefree young woman who was “free-spirited.” She had never been to the West Coast and was considering attending college the next semester at Western Washington University.
Investigators, who reviewed her diary, noted she had engaged in some sexual affairs with strangers, whom she met during her travels, including some men she had met on the bus ride out to Washington. This factor certainly raised her risk level. On October 2, Keri left her aunt’s house at about 11 a.m. with her backpack to go to Lake Padden, a city park that has a three-mile trail that goes around the lake. When she did not return home and did not call her relatives, the police were notified. A missing person’s report was filed and a search and rescue operation was conducted. The news media had also broadcast an appeal. As a result of the news broadcast and description, numerous calls came in placing the victim at a bus stop in the park at about 4 p.m. She was presumably on her way home.
On the evening of October 4, Keri’s battered and nude body was found by two boys who were riding their bikes on a trail in a remote section of Whatcom County near Mt. Baker. The victim had been posed with her legs spread open and held open with a vine. There was evidence of blunt force trauma to her face and manual strangulation. However, the strangulation did not cause her death. She had received blunt force trauma to the face and head from a pair of lopping shears used by gardeners. The police recovered the blood-stained lopping shears at the scene. There was evidence that the killer had spent time with the victim after she was killed. There were also several beer cans and field-stripped cigarette butts found at the crime scene.
An examination of the body at the scene indicated that the offender had forcibly inserted a stick into her vagina with such force that it broke off inside the victim. There was also evidence of anal penetration. However, no semen was recovered from the body. In addition, the offender had shaved off a small area of the victim’s pubic hair.
Lust murders are homicides in which the offender stabs, cuts, pierces or mutilates the sexual regions or organs of the victim’s body. The sexual mutilation of the victim may include evisceration, piquerism, displacement of the genitalia in both males and females, and the removal of the breasts in a female victim (defeminization). It also includes activities, such as “posing” and “propping” of the body, the insertion of objects into the body cavities, anthropophagy (consumption of blood and/or flesh), and necrophilia.
The next day, on October 5, while traveling back to the crime scene, a detective discovered a landscaping truck parked on the side of the road about a mile from the crime scene. The truck was mechanically disabled. In the bed of the truck was all the equipment a landscaper would use (lawnmower, weed-eater, rake, leave blower, trimmers, etc.). More importantly, in the cab of the truck was a beer can of the same brand found at the crime scene and several field-stripped cigarettes, which were the same brand as the ones found at the crime scene.
The detective contacted the owner of the truck and landscaping business. The owner stated that the truck was driven exclusively by one of his employees whom he hired from Labor Ready, a temporary labor agency. He identified the driver as James Allen Kinney. The owner indicated that he had last seen Kinney on October 2 when he came to pick up his check. He told the detective that when Kinney came to pick up his check, he was with a young woman named Keri. The owner identified a photo of Keri that the detective showed him. The owner of the landscaping business advised the detective that Kinney told him he was trying to find Keri a job and that they left his house together at about 10 p.m. He stated that Kinney was taking Keri to see Mt. Baker, where her body was later discovered.
Police retrieved the video surveillance tape from the bank where Kinney cashed his check on October 2. The tape clearly showed Kinney and Keri in the bank together. Additional witnesses were also located who saw Kinney and Keri eating dinner together in a restaurant near the bank. Police then obtained another video surveillance tape. This tape showed Kinney and Keri together in a local casino from 11:50 p.m. to 1:45 a.m.
Kinney had fled the jurisdiction. Investigators believed that he would resort to his usual modus operandi (MO) and head for a major city where he would seek refuge in a homeless shelter or Veteran’s Administration hospital. Investigators obtained a search warrant for Kinney’s apartment and located a number of informational items that would assist in locating the fugitive. During the search of Kinney’s room, a number of adult pornographic magazines were located. Interestingly, in one of the porno magazines, Kinney had hand-drawn some restraints on the legs of the woman who was posing with her legs spread open. The adulterated pictures with the hand-drawn restraints were almost exactly like the pose that Keri had been positioned in by Kinney. This was very significant in the analysis of the psychosexual motivation of the offender.
The authorities discovered that Kinney had been a transient since he was discharged from the Army in 1973. He had traveled all over the United States, staying at VA hospitals, clinics, and homeless shelters. He did menial jobs working for temporary employment agencies. Persons who were interviewed stated that Kinney was a pathological liar. America’s Most Wanted was enlisted to broadcast this information along with Kinney’s photograph and personal information. The authorities realized that Kinney could be anywhere and during the broadcasts persons reported seeing him in various locations.
Interviews of persons who knew Kinney described him as a “bull shitter” and a con man. Police also interviewed an ex-girlfriend of the suspect who provided authorities with personal information. Kinney reportedly told several women that he was heir to the Kinney Shoe fortune. He told others he was on the Board of Directors for The Disney Corporation. Kinney also told women he had attempted to date that he owned several businesses and offered them jobs. These women stated that he was sexually dysfunctional and had trouble maintaining an erection, which made him very angry.
On March 3, Kinney’s story was re-aired on America’s Most Wanted and two tips immediately came in from listeners that he was in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He was using the name Julius Goldman and purported to have been a rabbi. He had been staying at a mission and recently moved in with a woman. The FBI didn’t arrest Kinney until March 6. When the FBI agents went to the location, they found local police already at the scene maintaining surveillance on Kinney. At first, Kinney denied that he was the fugitive; however, once his fingerprints were matched, he admitted it. On March 6, a detective and a special agent flew to North Carolina where they obtained a full confession.
Kinney admitted to killing Keri. He told the detective that Keri allegedly offered him drugs as they “made out” in his truck. Kinney showed no remorse as he told his side of the story. Kinney stated, “After she was knocked out, I saw a stick on the ground and rammed it up her vagina.” He told the detective that he poured gasoline on her, but didn’t remember shaving her pubic hair. Kinney stated, “At that point, she meant nothing to me. She was just another dead drug dealer.”
Kinney approached Keri while she was at the bus stop and engaged her in conversation. Based on his known MO, he probably lured her with the promise of helping her get a job. She accompanied him to cash his check and was seen in the bank video. Eyewitnesses reported that Kinney and Keri had dinner together. The video from the local casino showed Kinney and Keri talking and socializing together between 11:50 p.m. and 1:45 a.m. on October 3. In fact, authorities learned that Kinney had introduced Keri as his daughter. This was the last time Keri was seen alive. Kinney and Keri left the casino together at 1:45 a.m. Kinney took Keri in his truck to a remote location and proceeded to engage in sexual activity with her. This preliminary sexual activity might very well have been consensual on the part of the victim. However, Kinney was known to have sexual dysfunction.
The questions are: “Was he unable to perform?” “Did the victim laugh at him?” The apparent outburst of physical violence and the brutal beating to the face certainly indicated rage and anger. The savage jamming of the stick into the victim’s vagina would be consistent with these dynamics. The sexual posing of the body, which resembled the pornography that Kinney had adulterated, was extremely significant. This psychosexual element and the overkill injuries are consistent with lust murder.
When the authorities questioned him about other murders, he denied being a serial killer. However, he expressed an intense interest in both Bundy and Bianchi. Kinney ended his statement by telling Detective Joseph that he didn’t remember killing anyone else because he was on lithium. But if he did remember, he would consider talking to him. The suspect was allowed to plead to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On January 14, 2002, James Allen Kinney was sentenced to life without parole and is incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP) at age 73.