A series of murders occurred in Washington State in 1990. The murders began in Bellevue, Washington, in June and ended within King County in September. Initially, authorities were not aware of the linkage of these cases, due to a delay in the analysis of pubic hair evidence retrieved from the first two crime scenes. In addition, the authorities were misdirected with the emergence of a more viable suspect in the second murder investigation. However, when the evidence analysis of the hair had been completed and the initial suspect in the second case was eliminated, the authorities were presented with a classic signature-type series of events.
June 23, 1990. The first victim was a 27-year-old white female, whose nude body was discovered in the parking lot of a restaurant. Her body was found face up, lying on her back with her legs crossed at the ankles. Her face was partially covered with a lid from a plastic cup, which covered blunt-force injuries to her head. There was also evidence along with scratch marks on the side of her neck that her necklace had been used as a ligature. In addition, there were postmortem drag marks on the high points of her body, indicating that she had been dragged. The assailant had posed the victim’s body with the victim’s hands crossed on her chest with a pine cone beneath her fingers. The police recovered foreign pubic hairs on and near the body. The medical examination revealed that she had been vaginally raped and anally sodomized with an unknown object.
Her clothing was missing along with any identification. As a result, her identity remained unknown until June 27, 1990, when she was identified as Mary Ann Pohlreich, a missing 27-year-old woman from Redmond, Washington. She had last been seen in the early morning hours of June 23 at a popular bar and restaurant. Her car was later located in the parking lot of the establishment, and her pocketbook was discovered in the restaurant’s lost and found.
9 Aug 1990. The next case also occurred within the city of Bellevue. The body of 35-years-old Carol Marie Beethe, was discovered in her bedroom by her 13-year-old daughter. The victim’s nude body had been displayed on the bed with a pillow over her head. The barrel of a shotgun had been inserted into the victim’s vagina. The body was nude except for a pair of red high-heel shoes, which had been placed upon her feet by the offender.
The body had been positioned so that whoever walked into the room would be confronted with this grotesque sight. There was evidence of blunt-force trauma to the head and manual strangulation. Although there was no evidence of vaginal rape or sodomy, there were foreign pubic hairs found on the mattress and the rug in the victim’s bedroom. Two expensive rings were missing from the hands of the victim.
The third victim was 24-year-old Andrea “Randi” Levine. Her body was discovered in her bedroom on September 3, 1990. Her nude body had been positioned under the bed covers with a pillow covering her face. There was a vibrator placed in the victim’s mouth and next to her head was a book entitled More of the Joys of Sex. There was also evidence of blunt-force trauma to the victim’s head. When the police removed the bed covers, they saw that the body had been placed spread-eagle on her back, with a series of postmortem slashings and stabbings. The victim’s body was face up, thereby exposing her breasts and genitalia.
Crime scene technicians recovered a foreign pubic hair, which was adhered to one of her stab wounds. There was evidence that the offender had spent considerable time at the crime scene. The cause of death was blunt-force trauma to her head. However, the offender felt the need to inflict over 241 postmortem stab wounds throughout the victim’s body.
There were frontal wounds into the side of the victim’s neck, into her chest, breasts, abdomen, and upper thighs. There were a series of dorsal wounds on the back and buttocks and along both legs. Even the bottom of the victim’s feet bore evidence of this piquerism. An expensive ring was missing from the victim’s finger.
The suspect was 33-year-old George Waterfield Russell Jr., known as The Charmer. Russell was a known burglar who as an adolescent had a history of fetish burglaries and other nuisance offenses. He was developed as a suspect when he was found in possession of a gun, which had been taken from a residence nearby to the last homicide. The pubic hairs recovered from the crime scene were found to match the suspect. The subject, who was a police buff, was fascinated with police work. He had police scanners and told people he worked for the police and the FBI.
He was also fascinated with serial murder cases and reportedly was well read on the Ted Bundy and Green River cases. He followed the news stories very closely and cut out the news stories as well as the photographs of the victims. He would compare them to each other and ridicule the police techniques. He had stated to a friend, “that the only way the police will catch the killer is with trace evidence.”
Each of the victims had foreign hairs on or near her body. The semen and sperm found on the first victim were matched to the suspect through DNA. The police located a vehicle used to transport the first victim and discovered blood in the front seat cushion. This blood matched the blood of the first victim through DNA analysis. Police located a witness who identified one of the rings stolen from the second victim. The suspect had tried to sell the ring to the witness. The ring stolen from the last victim was traced back to the suspect.
Each murder was sexually motivated. Each of the victims was discovered totally nude. Each victim’s body had been positioned face up to expose the breasts and genitalia. Each victim had been posed and/or positioned after death with props and/or objects inserted in or placed near or on her body. It was apparent that the killer spent a considerable amount of time with each of the victims and engaged in activities well beyond those necessary to kill the victims. In fact, a classic progression of violence was inflicted on each new victim. The cause of death for each of the victims was blunt-force trauma. In each case, trophies had been taken from the victims, e.g., clothing, rings, jewelry.
In November 1991, Russell was found guilty by a jury of one count of first degree murder, and two counts of aggravated first degree murder. George Russell was given two life imprisonment terms plus 28 years, and is currently imprisoned at Clallam Bay Corrections Center.