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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Murdered Woman Was To Testify In Trial Police Exploring Several Motives

A woman found dead on Mount Spokane last week was set to testify against a man accused of double murder.

That’s one of several possible motives detectives are investigating in the slaying of Shannon R. Zielinski, 38.

She was one of 50 witnesses county prosecutors plan to call in the upcoming trial of Joseph “JoJo” Andrews, according to the case file.

Andrews is accused of the 1994 execution-style slaying of a Spokane couple. Police believe he shot Larry Eaves and Eloise Patrick, both 37, in the back of the head as they sat in a parked car in Browne’s Addition.

Sheriff’s Lt. John Simmons said Wednesday his detectives are looking into whether someone killed Zielinski to silence her testimony in the Andrews case.

“It’s a possibility, and it’s something that we’re certainly aware of,” Simmons said.

Andrews, who has been in jail in Spokane since October 1994, acknowledged in an affidavit that he knew Zielinski was going to testify against him.

But detectives also are looking into several other scenarios, Simmons added.

Zielinski had a long criminal record and had worked as a prostitute. It’s possible she was killed by a customer, drug dealer or someone to whom she owed money, Simmons said.

Investigators also have not ruled out the possibility that Zielinski died at the hands of a serial killer who may be responsible for the unsolved murders of other Spokane prostitutes.

Zielinski’s badly decomposed body was discovered Friday near the intersection of Holcomb and Mount Spokane Park Drive.

In the past six years, five women, including Zielinski, have been stripped, shot and dumped in the Spokane area.

Yolanda Sapp, 26, Nickie Lowe, 34, and Kathleen Brisbois, 38, were all killed and left near the Spokane River in 1990.

In 1992, a hiker discovered the body of 19-year-old Sherry Palmer in a wooded area less than a mile from where Zielinski’s body was found.

Police Lt. Jerry Oien said city detectives are working closely with the sheriff’s department to see if Zielinski’s death is related to the others.

There’s some speculation that Zielinski was killed within the city limits and then dumped near Mount Spokane, he said.

“Obviously, we’re going to compare them all,” Oien said.

A police detective who investigated the Eaves-Patrick murders said earlier this year he had information that one of the state’s witnesses in the case was in danger, according to the Andrews file.

“My recollection was that JoJo had discussed trying to get rid of the primary witness,” Detective James Peterson wrote in a February 1996 memorandum.

Peterson explained in the memo that he had instructed one of his informers to keep his “ears open” for information on a potential hit on the witness, who was not identified.

It could not be determined Wednesday if Zielinski was the targeted witness.

There was no other mention of a contract on a witness’ life in the file, and efforts to reach Peterson for comment were unsuccessful.

Oien, Peterson’s supervisor, called Zielinski an “important witness” in the Andrews case.

“Of course, they’re all important,” Oien said. “Her involvement in this is something we wouldn’t want to discuss prior to the trial.”

Dannette Allen, one of the two deputy prosecutors on the Andrews case, declined to discuss what Zielinski knew about the Eaves-Patrick slayings.

“It’s a death penalty case. It’s very serious. So I’m not going to comment at all,” Allen said.

Andrew’s lead defense attorney, Phillip “Dutch” Wetzel, did not return a telephone call.

Prosecutors have an eyewitness to the Eaves-Patrick murders that they plan to call to the stand, but Zielinski was not that person.

Sheriff’s detectives caught no breaks in Zielinski’s case Wednesday and are still trying to pinpoint the time of her death, Simmons said.

“It’s totally up in the air until we can determine when she died,” he said.

An autopsy performed Monday showed Zielinski could have been killed up to four weeks before a pair of boys discovered her body near their bus stop.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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