February 13, 1998 in Nation/World

Sixth Victim Tied To Serial Killings Woman Found Sunday Disappeared In October

Robin Rivers And Adam Lynn S Bill Mor Staff writer
 

A woman whose body was found Sunday is most likely the sixth victim of a serial killer, Spokane authorities said Thursday.

A relative said the woman is Sunny G. Oster. The 41-year-old Auburn, Wash., native hadn’t been seen since October, shortly after completing a drug treatment program in Spokane.

Authorities say a killer or killers are targeting women with high-risk lifestyles.

Five of the women, including Oster, have been shot to death and dumped around Spokane. The other body was discovered near Tacoma.

On a friend’s recommendation, Oster went to Spokane in September to enroll in a drug treatment program, her father said.

“She’s had problems like this most of her life,” Ed Oster said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “I worked for many years to solve the (drug) problem she had.”

Oster wrote a letter to her father in early October in which she talked about completing treatment, getting a job and buying a car.

The day after the mother of two left treatment, she disappeared, Ed Oster said.

“It plain hurts,” he said. “If I had one wish, I wish she was here.”

A task force investigating the serial murders had been searching for Oster since early January.

On Sunday afternoon, a resident found a body in a rural area of western Spokane County. Detectives don’t know how long it had been there.

An autopsy performed Wednesday determined the woman had been shot to death, said police Capt. Chuck Bown, a task force commander.

Oster had a lifestyle similar to that of the other victims, who worked as prostitutes or used illegal drugs.

Bown and sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver released few details about this latest victim.

They wouldn’t give her name or say where exactly the body was found.

They said only that it was discovered near a well-maintained road that is lightly traveled.

“We do not want to limit our investigative techniques,” Silver said.

The bodies of Laurie Ann Wason, Shawn McClenahan, Darla Sue Scott and Shawn Johnson were found near roads in out-of-the-way places around Spokane.

They had all been shot.

Authorities believe a December murder in Tacoma was committed by the same person or people responsible for the Spokane slayings. The body of Melinda Mercer was found in a vacant field in south Tacoma on Dec. 7.

The 24-year-old drug user and suspected prostitute had been shot in the head. A plastic bag had been pulled over her face.

Oster, whose last known address was the Colonial Motel on Pacific Highway Southwest in Tacoma, had a history of arrests for drug possession and prostitution on the West Side, according to state court records.

She was picked up for prostitution outside Tacoma in September, just a few weeks before she disappeared in Spokane.

Authorities said two other women being sought by the task force have been found.

Family members told detectives that Margaret Streeter and Jessica Fitzgerald are alive and well, Bown said.

Another woman with a similar lifestyle to the victims remains missing. Linda Marie Maybin, 34, hasn’t been seen since since Nov. 22.

Thursday’s announcement that another victim had been added to the serial killer list came an hour after nearly 150 people gathered to remember the first five victims.

Concerned Women of Spokane held the vigil near the Spokane Opera House.

Participants sang songs, read poems and threw rose petals into the Spokane River as the victims’ names were read.

Several people exhorted city officials to make solving the murders a priority.

“We want you to walk the streets of this city until you feel solidarity, instead of pity,” said Rusty Nelson of the Spokane Peace and Justice Action League. “Please share our outrage, our resolve.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SIXTH VICTIM Sunny G. Oster, 41, disappeared last October and was listed as missing in January by detectives investigating the Spokane serial murder case. She has a record of drug and prostitution convictions in Tacoma. Her father said she had completed a drug treatment program in Spokane just before she disappeared.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Robin Rivers and Adam Lynn Staff writers Staff writer Bill Morlin contributed to this report.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SIXTH VICTIM Sunny G. Oster, 41, disappeared last October and was listed as missing in January by detectives investigating the Spokane serial murder case. She has a record of drug and prostitution convictions in Tacoma. Her father said she had completed a drug treatment program in Spokane just before she disappeared.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Robin Rivers and Adam Lynn Staff writers Staff writer Bill Morlin contributed to this report.


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