The Messed Up Truth About The Chameleon Killer

In 1985, Jesse Morgan, 11, and his friends were playing hide-and-seek in Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, New Hampshire. One of his friends suggested they check out a barrel he'd seen in the woods, but when they opened it, a smell that he told ABC's 20/20 was "absolutely putrid" came from it, and they all hightailed it out of there. He and his friends were unaware that the barrel contained the remains of a woman and her young daughters, the victims of a man who would go on to be known as The Chameleon Killer, though their bones would lay anonymous in the Allenstown cemetery for decades before the full extent of the serial killer's crimes were brought to light.

Terry Rasmussen has gone down in history as The Chameleon Killer because he assumed several different identities over the course of his decades as a murderer. At various points, he went by the names "Bob Evans," "Larry Vanner," and "Gordon Jensen," among others. His MO was to start relationships with women, even have children with them, then separate them from their families, most of whom never saw their loved ones again. Most of his crimes would have remained attributed to anonymous killers were it not for the determination of the Northern California investigator who arrested Rasmussen for murder in 2003, when he was going by the name Larry Vanner. He died in prison in 2010, and it wasn't until 2017 that his identity as Rasmussen was discovered.

The murder of Eunsoon Jun

Eunsoon Jun's friends didn't like her new boyfriend. Renee Rose said he looked unhealthy, chain-smoked, and had a bad attitude. Two years later, she and Jun's family got suspicious when they stopped seeing her, and Larry Vanner would always have a new excuse when they asked him where she was. "Who could believe him for one second?" said Rose.  

Roxane Gruenheid, a homicide detective with the Contra Costa County Sheriff's office, didn't believe him, either. "When somebody's story keeps changing, it means that they [have] either made something up, can't remember what they told you the first time, or that they're lying to you," she told 20/20. Her intuition was correct. She found Jun's body buried beneath a huge pile of kitty litter in the crawl space of Vanner's house. It was determined that she had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Gruenheid had Vanner for Jun's murder, but she hadn't quelled her suspicions about the man. She continued to investigate and found that a daughter he had abandoned years before — for which he did 18 months in prison — named "Lisa" wasn't actually his. The girl was actually Dawn Beaudin, daughter of a woman named Denise, who is also believed to have been one of Rasmussen's victims. Denise and Dawn went missing just after Thanksgiving in 1981, and the mother has yet to be located. She is believed to be among the six people Rasmussen killed.

The Allenstown victims' identities were finally discovered in 2019

Like Gruenheid's discovery in California, DNA evidence was used in New Hampshire to ascertain the identities of the victims found in the barrels in Bear Brook State Park. The Associated Press reported in 2019 that after decades of anonymity, the family of Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch and her two daughters could finally get some closure. After authorities identified Rasmussen as the suspected murderer, they received help from a research librarian from Connecticut named Rebekah Heath who had investigated the case after hearing about it on a podcast. She remembered seeing an online post about a missing girl named Sarah McWaters, one of Honeychurch's daughters, and contacted the person who published it. Thus, Heath was able to uncover the last known whereabouts of Honeychurch and her daughters: they had visited her mother for Thanksgiving in 1978. Rasmussen had been with them.

With this connection, authorities were able to contact the missing woman and children's family and identify their bodies through DNA testing. "The day comes with a heavy hearts," their relatives said in a statement. "Marlyse, Marie and Sarah were so loved by our families and they are greatly missed. We take solace in finally having the answers we have longed for." However, there was one other body in those barrels — that of another small girl — but she has yet to be identified. They are still striving to identify her and discover the body of Beaudin.