Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lewiston law enforcement gives fresh look at unsolved 1982 killings

From top left: Kristina Nelson, Christina White. From bottom left, Kristin David, Steven Pearsall, and Brandy Miller. (Courtesy photos)

Hoping to take advantage of advances in DNA technology, the Lewiston Police Department announced a renewed effort Tuesday to try to solve the 35-year-old unsolved killings of two women and the disappearance of a man from the same night in 1982.

On the night of Sept. 12, 1982, Steven Pearsall, then 35, was dropped off at the Lewiston Civic Theater around midnight. He planned to practice his clarinet but he disappeared, according to archives from the Lewiston Police Department.

The same night, Jacqueline “Brandy” Miller, 18, and her stepsister, Kristina Nelson, 21, both disappeared as well. Their bodies were found two years later near Kendrick, about 27 miles northeast of Lewiston.

“Pearsall has never been found and is not considered a suspect,” according the police archives.

After more than two decades without answers, the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office has formed a “cold case unit” of investigators, prosecutors and staff to review the case to finally bring answers, Prosecutor Justin Coleman said in a news release.

“You never know when a key piece of evidence might break loose,” Coleman said. “There are a few areas of interest that could bear some fruit in this investigation. But it involves a slow review to make sure we cover everything.”

Lt. Budd Hurd of the Lewiston Police Department said in the release that the unit started earlier this year reviewing written reports and evidence that was collected.

One goal is to submit items collected in 1982 for more advanced DNA testing.

The unit includes three Lewiston detectives, Coleman, a deputy prosecutor and other staff.

The unit is also working with the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated a similar disappearance three years earlier – in 1979 – that investigators previously believed was linked to the 1982 disappearances.

In that case, Christina White, 12, disappeared on April 28, 1979, from the Asotin County Fair.

In 1998, Lewiston police Lt. Al Johnson said he believed Kristen David, a University of Idaho student from Lewiston, also fell prey to the same suspect. It was the first time police publicly announced David’s death might be linked to the others.

She was 22 when she disappeared in 1981 while riding her bike from Moscow to Lewiston. Eight days later, her headless torso and leg were found along the Snake River in Clarkston. Then the dismembered head, arms and part of a leg were found downriver.

According to Spokesman-Review archives, investigators in 2009 noted that three of the four female victims had similar names: Kristen, Christina and Kristina.

“Three of the four, all about the same height, same name, you kind of start looking at that like, yeah, maybe,” Willie Russell, a Lewiston police detective, said in 2009.

Authorities at the time publicly announced that they had a person of interest, but they never arrested or named the suspect.

If anyone has information about the cases, they are asked to call the Lewiston Police Department’s Investigative Section at (208) 746-0171.