The Unsolved Lewis Clark Valley Murders

One might not think of the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley as a hotbed for murderous criminal activity. This sparsely populated region of northern Idaho barely breaks 60,000 inhabitants and isn't exactly on the radar of most people. While a relatively quiet area, it does boast of being a paradise for hunters, fishermen, and camping enthusiasts, resulting in a good amount of tourism throughout the warmer months. 

Though maybe not on the minds of the typical American, this region may very well be the stomping grounds of a notorious serial killer whose identity has yet to be revealed. With five suspected murders already under their belt, this killer is believed by some to be behind more than thirty murders spanning a 40-plus year spree (via the Yakima Herald-Republic). 

The killings took place in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley metropolitan area and may be linked to a series of grisly murders at the Yakama Indian Reservation, more than 150 miles away in western Washington

The disappearance of Christina White

The first known victim in the Lewis Clark Valley murders and disappearances was 12-year-old Christina White (via The Spokesman-Review). White had just attended the county fair in Asotin, Washington, with a friend. Shortly after arriving at her friend's home, White telephoned her mother and complained of feeling sick from an afternoon out in the sun. As her mother didn't have a car to pick her up, she was advised to rest at her friend's home until she was ready to ride her bicycle back (per The Charley Project).

When her mother didn't hear back from her, she thought her daughter felt better and went back to the fair. But when her mother went to find her, White was nowhere to be found. Eyewitnesses claim they saw her riding her 10-speed bicycle in the direction of her home that evening, perhaps having recovered enough to make the ride. Neither she nor her bicycle was ever seen again. The only evidence found materialized several weeks after White was reported missing when school papers belonging to White were found strewn about a farm outside of Asotin. But there was no other trace of the young girl.

The murder of Kristin David

College senior Kristin David was also last seen riding her bicycle. She was making the 32-mile trek between Moscow, Idaho, where she attended school, and Lewiston, where she lived. The college senior was en route on Highway 95 on June 26, 1981, when she seemed to vanish into thin air. Over a week later, a gruesome discovery was made that confirmed David was a victim of murder.

According to the FBI, human remains were discovered in and along the banks of the Snake River not far from David's route home to Lewiston. But they were not recovered in one piece. Beginning on July 4, 1981, wrapped packages that contained body parts later identified as David's were found in black plastic bags, some of which were wrapped in pages of April editions of the local newspaper. The torso and one leg were found first, followed by her head, arms, and partial remains of her other leg in the following days (via The Spokesman-Review). 

David's clothing and her bicycle have never been found. Though she was murdered in 1981, it wasn't until 1998 that investigators publicly linked David's murder to the same suspect as White's abductor. But White wasn't the only victim David's killer was thought to have been responsible for.

Were three more murdered in one night?

The Spokesman-Review reports that 35-year-old Steven Pearsall got a ride to the Lewiston Civic Theater late in the evening of September 12, 1982. He had plans to practice his clarinet that night and had access to the theater through his job as a custodian there. According to The Charley Project, this former Air Force Corporal was never seen again. Interestingly enough, two women associated with Pearsall also disappeared that evening. Jacqueline "Brandy" Miller, 18, and her stepsister, Kristina Nelson, 21, were walking to a grocery store when they were last seen alive. The two women were college students, and both knew Pearsall from their jobs at the theater (per Fox News). 

Pearsall has never been found, but the bodies of Miller and Nelson were discovered on March 19, 1984, in a wooded area off a road near Kendrick, Idaho. Their remains were skeletal at that point. Long lengths of cord were found near the two women. It was assumed that they were killed and then had their bound bodies rolled down the steep embankment off of the highway. Though still missing, Pearsall was ruled out as a suspect in the murders of Miller and Nelson.

A suspect was questioned at great length by investigators, but there was not enough evidence at the time to pursue charges. While the suspect's name has not been released, it is known that they worked at the theater with the three victims.

At one time, Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were considered suspects

Investigators conducted a series of interviews with multiple suspects in all five cases, but two interviewees will have familiar names to those who are immersed in true crime lore. Lewiston Police Department detective Don Schoeffler flew to Texas with a county deputy to interview notorious serial murderer Henry Lee Lucas. After their meeting, the pair then traveled to Florida to conduct an interview with Lucas's murder partner Ottis Toole (via The Lewiston Tribune). 

Both Lucas and Toole terrorized the southeastern United States throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, claiming an undetermined number of victims. It's unlikely that the real number of murders the duo committed will ever be known, as both Lucas and Toole have been shown to be avid storytellers, falsely confessing to murders that they have since been determined to be innocent of. When law enforcement agencies across the country got wind of how freely each man was talking, representatives from agencies across the United States were jockeying for positions to get confessions from the two men in hopes of closing their cold case files. Though Lucas and Toole were both murderers, the bulk of what they confessed to has been proven to be false.

Investigators from Lewiston-Clarkston were able to determine that neither Lucas nor Toole were responsible for the crimes in their part of Idaho, and they returned home empty-handed. 

Answers into this cold case might be revealed soon

Meanwhile, more than 150 miles away from the Lewiston-Clarkston River Valley, there are more than 30 unsolved murders on the Yakama Indian Reservation (via the Yakima Herald-Republic). Detective Jackie Nichols and Gloria Bobertz, a relative of one of the murder victims from the Lewiston-Clarkston case, claim that they have a person of interest in the five unsolved murders. Tracking this person's moves across the country over the years, they state that this person is very likely tied to a large number of murders on the Indian reservation that have been occurring since about 1980.

Their person of interest is a truck driver who would have access to the reservation and is also tied to the Lewiston-Clarkston area. With better DNA technology available to investigators, perhaps these cases are coming to a close. And maybe the efforts of Nichols and Bobertz will help foment moving not only the Lewiston-Clarkston murders to the "closed" file but also the many open files on the Yakama Indian Reservation.