Monday, May 4, 2015

Are Spokane detectives on the trail of a serial killer?

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Ruby Jean Doss was from Detroit but people called her Memphis. She was a 27-year-old mother. At the dawn of 1986 she was getting by slinging sex along East Sprague Avenue. A petite 5-foot-3, she weighed just 90 pounds. The night of Jan. 30 she wore a puffy rabbit fur coat and a sleek black wig.

She turned up in a barren field near the intersection of North Fiske Street and East Ferry Avenue. A homeless man found her corpse late that frigid night. She had been struck in the head, sexually assaulted and strangled. Her killer left the fluffy coat and the wig, strewn near her body in the field.

Her child-length legs tried to run, detectives said at the time, but it was no match for him that night. But who was he? Nearly 30 years later, we still don't know.

But there's a new suspect. Former Pasco Police Officer named Richard J Aguirre. Of course, there have been other suspects in the past. Early on, detectives suspected a Spokane County assistant public defender. He committed suicide in 1989. More recently, attention turned to a Montana drifter implicated in the 1987 slaying of 58-year-old Rochelle English.

Aguirre joined the Pasco force in 1988 and resigned recently following a third-degree rape charge. After the accusations in Pasco came to light, Aguirre was asked to give his DNA which was then entered into the Combined DNA Index System. Doss’s hands had been swabbed for DNA when she was found in 1986 and that profile had been floating around the system waiting for a match since 2002.

So Aguirre's DNA hits the system and, officials say, it was a match. Could there be an innocent explanation? Aguirre’s attorney, Scott Johnson has indicated that there could be. More on that to come. 

Police executed a search warrant at Aguirre’s home last month. Then, last Thursday, the Spokane Police Department held a press conference where they outed Aguirre as a suspect, a somewhat unusual move in a case where the suspect hasn’t been arrested.

Keisha Doss, Ruby's daughter, was happy to hear that detectives are still working the case all these years later, SPD Lt. Steve Wohl said at the press conference.

The spate of killings nearly 30 years ago didn’t end with Doss. A number of women were found strangled in 1986 and 1987. Some of the murders have been solved, but there are at least two that remain unsolved murders and bear eerie similarities to the Doss murder. Also, the possible hallmarks of a serial killer. 30-year-old Mary Ann Turner was found beside a garage Nov 4, 1986. 37-year-old Kathleen DeHart was found in the basement of an apartment building July 5, 1987. Both women were believed to have worked in the sex industry and both had been strangled. Their families are still waiting for answers.

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