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Victim’s Mom Upset Police Didn’t Call Her Tacoma Officers Didn’t Inform Her That Daughter’s Death Was Linked To Spokane Serial Killer

Mon., Feb. 2, 1998

The mother of a woman whose body was dumped in a Tacoma field is upset that police didn’t call to tell her that her daughter could be the victim of a Spokane serial killer.

Karyl Greenwood of Centralia, Wash., says she learned from a newspaper reporter Friday of the possible connection between her daughter, 24-year-old Melinda Mercer, and four Spokane victims killed in November or December.

“I’m at wit’s end with this,” Greenwood said Saturday. “Nobody has notified me of nothing. Nobody told me this was going to be on TV. Yesterday, my other daughter calls me on my cell phone and tells me one of her friends saw it on television.”

Greenwood said authorities haven’t kept her abreast of their discoveries.

“I have a call in to Tacoma police,” Greenwood said. “This can’t be right, can’t be fair that others know about this before I’m notified.”

Tacoma police spokesman Jim Mattheis said he didn’t know whether anyone from the department had talked to Greenwood about the likely link between her daughter’s death and the Spokane serial killer or killers.

“It was probably a slip-up on our part,” he said. “We probably should have called her.”

But, Mattheis said, he was under the impression one of Melinda’s friends who had worked with her at a restaurant had “called her mother and told her.”

Mercer’s body was discovered Dec. 7 in a field in south Tacoma. She had been shot repeatedly in the head, which was covered by a plastic bag.

Greenwood says Melinda, who grew up in Centralia, “was running in a fast world up in Seattle, but she was the most loving girl, the most innocent victim ever.”

Mercer had lived in Seattle for the past four years and had worked as a waitress at several restaurants in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.

A task force of Spokane city and county law enforcement officers will take the lead in investigating Mercer’s death, Mattheis said.

Like the four Spokane women, Mercer had been shot to death and led “a highly mobile lifestyle” and her body was dumped in a secluded or rural location, detectives said.

Spokane law enforcement officials say the four women whose bodies were found dumped outside the city recently likely were killed by the same person or persons. Authorities are considering the possibility their deaths may be linked to those of three other women found slain in late August and mid-October.

The task force also is looking into possible links with 11 other unsolved killings of Spokane area women since 1984.

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