February 16, 2009 in Idaho

Authorities not ready to drop cold case

Lewiston Tribune
 

LEWISTON, Idaho — Kristin David disappeared in June 1981 while riding her bicycle from Moscow to Clarkston, and about a week later the dismembered body of the 22-year-old University of Idaho student was found in the Snake River.

Now, authorities in North Idaho say they hope advances in technology will help solve what happened to David, a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science.

“We continue to look at this,” FBI Special Agent Ron Miller told the Lewiston Tribune. “It’s not just something that’s sitting around. We continue to investigate it.”

He said evidence was reprocessed last year by the FBI lab, but he declined to say if any new clues were discovered, because the case is still active.

No arrests have been made in an investigation that included law enforcement officials from at least two cities, four counties and two states. The FBI took over the case because of all the jurisdictions involved.

Law enforcement officials who investigated David’s death say it still haunts them.

“The thing I remember is how frightening it was,” said Michael Goetz, who at the time had just started his second term as sheriff of Latah County and had two small daughters. “I went home that night and … you don’t sleep good.”

Goetz resigned later that fall in 1981 and took a law enforcement job in Tacoma. Now 58 and still living in Tacoma, he said he still thinks of David when he hears of a drifter being arrested in a similar case.

At the time of David’s disappearance, a possible witness, under hypnosis, said he saw a man in a dark brown van with Oregon license plates that apparently had stopped to help a young woman on a bike on U.S. Highway 95.

Police began stopping brown vans, prompting one man to quit driving his because he had been pulled over so often.

Some authorities think David’s disappearance could be tied to the disappearance of four others.

Christina White, 12, disappeared from the Asotin County Fair on April 28, 1979, and her whereabouts is unknown.

In September 1982, three people went missing from the vicinity of the Lewiston Civic Theatre, where David had worked at one time.

The bodies of stepsisters Kristina Nelson, 21, and Jacqueline (Brandi) Miller, 18, were found in March 1984 at the bottom of a steep embankment near Kendrick.

The body of the third person, Steven Pearsall, 35, has never been found and police say he is likely dead.

Authorities also note that three of the four female victims had similar names: Kristin, Christina and Kristina.

“Three of the four, all about the same height, same name, you kind of start looking at that like, yeah, maybe,” said Willie Russell, 65, a Lewiston police detective at the time.

Authorities had suspects, but have never charged anyone. Russell thinks all five disappearances are connected.

“What you think and what you can prove are two different things,” he said.

Don Schoeffler, a former Lewiston police detective who worked the cases, disagrees.

“Not the same killer,” said Schoeffler, 62, who now lives in Yuma, Ariz.

Schoeffler flew to Texas and then Florida to talk with people who confessed to killing sprees, but came away satisfied they had no connection to David’s death.

“We lived and breathed those cases,” Schoeffler said. “And to this day, it still bothers us.”

David’s father lives in Kelso, Wash.

“There’s not much you can say,” he said. “I’m 75 years old now. I was always hoping it would be solved before I left.”

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