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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pasco police officer a suspect in 1986 Spokane cold case

UPDATED: Thu., April 30, 2015, 12:47 p.m.

Ruby Jean Doss, murder victim.
Ruby Jean Doss, murder victim.

A Pasco police officer who recently resigned from the force is a suspect in a 1986 homicide in Spokane, Spokane Police said this morning.

Spokane detectives have identified Richard J. Aguirre as a suspect using DNA evidence, they said in a news release.

Ruby Doss was 27 when she was found strangled near the intersection of North Fiske Street and East Ferry Avenue in 1986. Doss used the alias Theresa Cox and was known by the street name “Memphis,” police said at the time.

New DNA evidence matches Aguirre’s DNA to DNA collected when Doss was killed, police say.

“Aguirre is currently being investigated for an unrelated alleged sexual assault, which occurred in the Tri-Cities area in 2014,” the release said. “As part of the sexual assault investigation his DNA was collected and submitted to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). His DNA profile matched the DNA profile collected from the 1986 Doss homicide.”

Aguirre was placed on administrative leave from the Pasco Police Department in November and recently resigned, Spokane police say. His lawyer told the Tri-City Herald newspaper that Aguirre is not in custody.

According to a story in the Tri-City Herald, the Pasco department placed Aguirre (pictured, right, courtesy of Tri-City Herald) on paid leave in November following an off-duty incident. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office had conducted a months-long sexual assault investigation involving the officer, the newspaper said, and had turned over information to the Franklin County prosecutor.

Aguirre joined the Pasco Police Department in 1988 and was Police Officer of the Year in 2002.

Spokesman-Review archives say Doss was a prostitute who was known to work along East Sprague Avenue and had recently arrived from Detroit. Her body was found on Jan. 30, 1986. In addition to being strangled, she had a head wound that indicated she’d been struck by a blunt object.

Two other women - Mary Ann Turner, 30, and Kathleen DeHart, 37 - were also killed in 1986 and 1987. They also were strangled and suffered blows to the head.

Spokane police say they are taking a new look at those cases in light of the new DNA evidence.

In 1989, police also investigated potential links to a Spokane County public defender, Dale Wells, who committed suicide that year. A motel manager told investigators that photos of Wells resembled a man who had been looking for Doss back in 1986.

According to Spokesman-Review archives, the man had told the motel manager that Doss stole a wallet from his friend, who was a cop, and explained he was was trying to retrieve it to spare his friend any embarrassment it might cause if it was discovered he’d been with a prostitute.

Wells had been friends at Gonzaga University Law School with William J. Stevens, who at the time was a suspect in the Green River murders in Western Washington.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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