December 28, 1997 in Nation/World

2 Dead Women Raise Grisly Count Police Fear Deaths Related To String Of Prostitute Killings

Virginia De Leon Staff writer
 

Three women stood behind yellow police tape Saturday crying, shivering in the cold, and waiting.

They showed up before noon in the 5000 block of 14th Avenue, several yards from the gully where two bodies were found Friday.

Both were female, police said.

Clara Page came to the gully looking for her missing daughter, Laurie Wason.

“It’s her,” the sobbing woman said, watching detectives walk to and from the scene.

“No, Mom,” said her daughter, Shari Page. “Don’t say that. We don’t know yet.”

They won’t know until after the autopsies Monday.

Authorities won’t say if the dead women are the latest victims in a string of prostitute murders.

Ten women who worked as prostitutes have been killed in the Spokane area since 1990; five in the past four months. Detectives have few leads in the murders, which some authorities think may be the work of a serial killer.

Most of the women were shot at close range.

“We’ve never had anything like this,” said Lt. Jim Culp, a 28-year veteran of the Spokane Police Department. “This is a baffling one.”

Authorities have been looking for two missing women: Wason, 31, and Linda Marie Maybin, 34. Both are known prostitutes.

Up to 50 officers and volunteers responded to the latest discoveries. To preserve the crime scene, police closed part of 14th Avenue until Saturday afternoon. The area, once an old gravel hill, is covered with tall grass and trees.

In the past, people have used it as a dumping ground for garbage, old furniture - even deer carcasses, said Theresa Mallory, who lives nearby.

“We were shocked,” another neighbor said of the bodies. “It’s a little too close to home.”

A jogger discovered one of the bodies Friday about 20 feet from the road. Police found the second body nearby. They were partially buried by leaves and debris.

The bodies had been there “in excess of 48 hours,” said Spokane County Undersheriff Mike Aubrey.

Investigators and forensic technicians combed the area for evidence all day Saturday. The first body was removed at 12:15 p.m.; the second a half-hour later.

Because the bodies were female, the case was assigned to a special four-detective task force investigating the prostitute killings.

The task force, which involves the police and sheriff’s departments, has researched the Green River murders on the west side of the state and other serial killings. Detectives will be assisted by an FBI expert next month.

In the meantime, the tense waiting game for Wason’s mother and younger sisters continues.

“We’re trying to be strong,” said Darcy Acevedo, one of the two sisters who visited the gully.

Police refused to let the family see the bodies. They returned to their car in tears.

Wason would never leave Spokane without telling anyone, Acevedo said. Something bad must have happened to her.

“She got mixed up in the wrong crowd,” Acevedo said.

Wason, who is married and has a 12-year-old son, became a prostitute this summer, Acevedo said. She sold herself on the streets to support her heroin addiction.

Before then, Wason ran an adult-care home. A dog breeder, her picture appeared in a recent edition of Rottweiler Quarterly with her pet, Lucky.

Acevedo last saw her sister Oct. 30. She was wearing a black trenchcoat and walking along East Sprague. They spoke for a couple of minutes. Wason promised to call her that evening.

She never did.

On Nov. 3, family members reported her missing.

They’ve spent the last two months trying to get information about Wason from prostitutes. They’ve also posted fliers all over Spokane.

Meanwhile, the body count grows. Acevedo and the rest of her family live in fear that the next body to turn up will be her sister’s.

“We’ve waited and waited,” she said. “We just want to know.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo Map: Two bodies found

MEMO: The two bodies were identified as Laurie Ann Wason and Shawn A. McClenahan.

The two bodies were identified as Laurie Ann Wason and Shawn A. McClenahan.


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