A serial killer suspected of murdering at least five women in Washington state may have struck again, authorities said Monday.
The Spokane task force tracking the killer is investigating the death of a person whose body was found Sunday in a rural area of western Spokane County.
A person out for a walk found the body in the late afternoon or early evening, said sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver, a task force commander.
“At this point, it’s not known who the victim is, the cause of death or even the gender as a certainty,” police spokesman Dick Cottam said in a statement.
It is hoped an autopsy this week will establish the victim’s identity, Cottam said. The autopsy also will determine how long ago the body was dumped.
Silver would not say exactly where the body was found or provide other specifics about the case.
The release of too much information has hindered the apprehension and prosecution of serial killers in other communities, he said.
“Suffice it to say that when you look at other cases and other task forces, it hurt,” Silver said.
The local task force is trying to determine whether the latest victim was killed by the same person or people thought responsible for the five related homicides.
Those women all were shot to death during the last six months of 1997. Four bodies were found in the Spokane area and one in Tacoma. The victims all used illegal drugs or worked as prostitutes, or both.
Counting the latest victim, the task force is now investigating 20 unsolved killings since 1984, although authorities don’t believe they are all related. Nineteen of the victims were women.
In addition, the task force is looking for four women who disappeared from the Spokane area in recent months: Margaret Streeter, 27; Linda Maybin, 34; Sunny Oster, 41; and Jessica Fitzgerald, 23.
The missing women have lifestyles similar to those of the victims, authorities said.
, DataTimes MEMO: The body was identified as Sunny G. Oster.
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