"Happy Face Killer" victim identified almost 30 years after slaying
Gilroy, Calif. — A victim of the "Happy Face Killer" has been identified nearly 30 years after her body was left near a California highway, authorities said Monday.
Patricia Skiple of Colton, Oregon, had been known only as "Blue Pacheco" for the color of her clothing until genetic genealogy was used to identify her last week, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said.
Skiple, a mother known to friends and family as "Patsy," would have been about 45 years old when she was killed, the sheriff's office said.
Authorities identified her with help from the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit group that uses volunteers to help identify people listed as "Jane Does" or "John Does" through DNA profiles of possible relatives.
Skiple's body was found on June 3, 1993, on the side of California State Route 152 in the Gilroy area in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The cause of her death was listed as undetermined at the time.
In 2006, Keith Hunter Jesperson wrote to the county district attorney's office and said he had sexually assaulted and killed a woman near the highway.
Jesperson, who was arrested in 1995 on suspicion of killing a woman in Washington state, was dubbed the "Happy Face Killer" because he drew smiley faces on letters he sent to the media and police, prosecutors said.
Jesperson eventually confessed to killing eight women between 1990 and 1995 in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming. He currently is serving four life sentences without possibility of parole in Oregon.