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Authors: Robert Keppel

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The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer

BOOK: The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
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“[Keppel] knows more about identifying, tracking, and finally arresting and convicting serial killers than anyone else in the field.”


—Ann Rule, New York Times bestselling author of
Heart Full of Lies


“[A] page turner. The obvious excitement Bundy felt at the chance to recount his murderous career to Keppel sends chills down the spine. Keppel took Bundy’s intricate tale of homicidal insanity and turned it into a cogent and useful primer for law enforcement agencies trying to catch serial killers. It will be the standard for such investigations for years to come.”


The Detroit News


“One of the classic studies of criminology …
The Silence of the Lambs
owes tons to the investigation of the mind and modus operandi of the serial killer conducted by Robert Keppel.”


Time Out


“Superb on many levels. Not only is Keppel a superlative detective, he is an excellent writer.”


Daily Mail



The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”

Certain names have been changed to protect the identity of various people involved in the cases covered in this book.


POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020


Copyright © 1995, 2005 by Bob Keppel and William J. Birnes


Foreword copyright © 1995 by Ann Rule


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.


For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020


ISBN: 0-7434-6395-1
eISBN: 978-1-451-60428-3


First Pocket Books printing of this revised edition February 2004


10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1


POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Manufactured in the United States of America


Front cover photo courtesy of AP/Wide World


For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or [email protected]


To David, may he never forget his last name


In the twenty years I have worked on serial murder investigations, I have been fortunate to have experienced the dedicated work ethic of the most effective homicide detectives in the world. All—each in their own way—are special, all passed on their wisdom and encouraged me to write about my experiences. In no particular order, I am forever grateful to:

Detectives Roger Dunn, Kathleen McChesney, Kevin O’Shaughnessey, Jack Kidd, George Leaf, and Dave Reasor; Major Nick Mackie and Sgt. Bob Schmitz, King County Police; Investigator Mike Fisher, Pitkin County District Attorney’s Office; Detective Jerry Thompson and Sergeant Ben Forbes, Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office; for their work in the Ted Bundy cases.

Sheriff Dave Reichert; Detectives Fabian Brooks, Tom Jensen, and Jim Doyon; Sergeants Bob Andrews, Rupe Lettich, and Frank Atchley; Lieutenants Jackson Beard and Daniel Nolan; and Captain Frank Adamson, whose work on the Green River Murders Task Force was unprecedented in murder investigation history. And Jeff Beard, King County Prosecuter’s office.

Captain Robbie Robertson, Michigan State Police (Michigan Child Murders); Sergeant Frank Salerno, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (Hillside Strangler and Nightstalker cases); Sergeant Ray Biondi, Sacramento Sheriff’s Department (the Gallegos Family and Richard Trenton Chase cases and author of the books
All His Father’s Sins
The Vampire Killer);
Chief Joe Kozenczak, Des Plaines Police (John Wayne Gacy cases and co-author of the book
A Passing Acquaintance);
Captain Robbie Hamerick, Georgia State Bureau of Investigation (Atlanta Child Killer cases); Detectives Marv Skeen and Dale Foote, Bellevue Police, and Larry Petersen, King County Police (George Russell murder cases); Detectives Billy Baughman and Duane Homan, Seattle Police (Morris Frampton murder cases); Sergeant Jim Sidebottom, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and Captain Lee Erickson, Oregon State Police (Randy Kraft murder cases), and Detective Bob Gebo, Seattle Police.

The efforts of the members of the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime have been significant in the area of serial murder investigation. From VICAP were Terry Green, Ken Hanfland, Jim Howlett, Jim Bell, Eric Witzig, Winn Norman, Mike Cryan, and Greg Cooper. From the Behavioral Sciences Unit were John Douglas, Robert Ressler, Roy Hazelwood, and Bill Hagmaier.

Without the members of the Homicide Investigation and Tracking System (HITS), murder investigation would not be as effective in Washington State. The hard work and dedication of Bob LaMoria, Tamera Matheny, Tom Jones, Sally Coates, Joan Martin, Vicky Woods, Dick Steiner, Bo Bollinger, Frank Tennison, Gary Trent, Ken Hanfland, and Marv Skeen have set the guiding course for homicide investigation, and made my futuristic ideas a reality.

Three prominent authors are worthy of note for their inspiration: Steve Michaud, co-author with Hugh Aynesworth of The
Only Living Witness
Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer,
has given valuable consultation about his experiences with interviewing Ted Bundy in the months before Bundy’s execution and has encouraged me on numerous occasions to write this book.

Ann Rule, author of
The Stranger Beside Me
and true friend of law enforcement, has written numerous articles about my cases for
detective magazines early in her career. I am thankful for her skillful technique in describing those investigations and her encouragement for this book.

The consummate homicide detective and author of the textbook
Practical Homicide Investigation
is Vernon Geberth. Vernon has taken his experiences with the New York City Police Department and converted them into the finest homicide investigation training sessions in the nation. For his devotion to “telling it like it is” and his motto, “We work for God,” I am forever grateful.

Thanks to Bob Evans of the King County Police, my first detective sergeant and one of the commanders of the Green River Murders Task Force, I realized that detective work could be fun. He encouraged me to document Ted’s conversations so other law enforcement officers could learn from my experiences.

A special place in my experiences is saved for Pierce Brooks (retired Captain, Los Angeles Police Department, and founder of VICAP), my mentor and good friend. His dedication to improving homicide investigation goes unmatched, and I will always be indebted to him for his insightful guidance and gracious encouragement.

With the expert assistance of Dr. John Berberich, clinical psychologist, and Dr. John Liebert, forensic psychiatrist, I was able to construct the Bundy interview strategies in such a way as to preserve my own mental well-being.

My course of study on murder solvability factors was made possible by the academic staff at the University of Washington: Ezra Stotland (society and justice), Charles Z. Smith (law), Joseph Weis (criminology), Herb Costner (sociology), Elizabeth Loftus (psychology), Daris Swindler (anthropology), Donald Reay (pathology), and Tom Morton (dentistry), all experts in their field.

Special appreciation goes to my family—Sande, David, Allie, and John—for their loving support of my search for the truth.

This book wouldn’t be a book without Bill Birnes. He found my name in a NEXIS search and convinced me I had a multitude of valuable experiences to write about. Bill guided me through what began as the drudgery of writing and the pain of long-buried memories. His skills at thoughtfully weaving together my sometimes-fragmented writing were invaluable.


A joyless, dismal, black and sorrowful issue: Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad Amongst the fairest beings of our time



1995 Foreword by Ann Rule

s anyone who reads this remarkable book will quickly conclude, Bob Keppel is a superlative detective. He is one of perhaps a half dozen of the most gifted and intelligent investigators I have met in the 26 years I have been writing about true crime. I have known him for two decades. When we met, I was a young writer and he was the “new kid” in the King County, Washington, Police Department’s Homicide Unit. In those days, I wrote under the pen name “Andy Stack,” and I covered murder cases for
True Detective, Master Detective,
and three or four other fact-detective magazines. In fact, I wrote an article on the first homicide Bob Keppel ever worked as a detective.

It was called “Washington’s Strange Case of Murder Without Rhyme or Reason.”

I have always believed that there is a cyclical pattern in life. Everyone who excels in his or her profession can usually look back and see how one learning experience weaves itself into another—and another and another—until that person is so prepared to deal with complicated problems that his response is almost instinctive. Never have I realized that more than when I dug through a stack of yellowing detective magazines to reread “Murder Without Rhyme
or Reason,” which was published in
Master Detective
in July 1975. The picture of Bob Keppel looks as though he’s about 25—which he was.

The crime had occurred a full year earlier, in July 1974. July 1974 was a watershed point not only in Bob Keppel’s career, but in the lives of so many people who lived in the Northwest—including my own. Bob Keppel would go from his first, relatively uncomplicated murder probe into the investigation of a killing swath that may never be equaled.

Bob Keppel and Roger Dunn were called out in the wee hours of July 11 to investigate the senseless murder of Chris Stergion, 68, a popular businessman in Enumclaw, Washington. Stergion’s wife said Chris had gotten out of bed to investigate suspicious sounds. She had heard a struggle, and when she’d gone to see what had happened she found her husband lying bleeding, in their bathroom.

in King County, but it is about as far removed in ambiance from Seattle as a windmill is from the Space Needle. The newest detectives usually got the homicides in the little towns on the edges of the county, and Keppel and Dunn drew the Stergion case.

As I write this, the O. J. Simpson trial is in full flower, and so much of the prosecution’s case—and the defense’s—hinges on a pair of black leather gloves.

And so did the successful solution to Chris Stergion’s murder twenty-one years ago.

The biggest case of Bob Keppel’s life would break three days after the Stergion homicide: the “Ted” murders that rocked the Northwest in 1974 and for years afterward. The answers that were so long in coming in the serial murders “Ted” committed were elicited, finally, because of Bob Keppel’s extraordinary—and, yes, innate—skill at interrogation.

And so did the successful solution to Chris Stergion’s murder twenty-one years ago.

On July 10, 1974, a hugely tall teenage drifter wandered into Enumclaw, Washington. He was broke and hungry, and a number of people had taken pity on him. Some sawmill workers gave him
money for food, and Chris Stergion, who owned Stergion Concrete, had let him sleep in an old truck he owned.

Late that night, Stergion woke to hear the sound of the cash register drawer being opened in the office adjoining his living quarters. Minutes later, Chris Stergion lay dead in his own bath-tub.

BOOK: The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer
8.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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