It was around the middle of July 1982 when the first body was found floating in the Green River in King County, Washington. The victim was 16-year-old Wendy Lee Coffield, a troubled teen who had experienced few joys in life before she was strangled to death with her own panties and tossed like garbage into the shallow edge of the river. Without much evidence to go on, her murder remained unsolved, and the person responsible was dubbed the Green River Killer.
The King County police department had no way of knowing that Coffield represented the beginning of a savage killing spree that would last for years, with the majority of the murders occurring from 1982 through 1984.
Most of the victims were prostitutes or young runaways who worked or hitchhiked along an area of Pac Highway (Highway 99) which had regressed into being a two lane strip of topless bars and cheap hotels. For the Green River Killer this area proved to be a great hunting ground.
Reports of women and young girls disappearing continued. Discovering some of their skeletal remains clustered together in wooded areas along the Green River and around Sea-Tac Airport was also becoming far to regular an occurrence.
The victims ranged in ages from 12-15 to 31. Most had been left nude, sometimes with their fingernails clipped. The areas where the bodies were left were sometimes littered with gum or cigarette butts, food and road maps. Some of the dead bodies had been sexually abused.
The Green River Task Force was formed to investigate the murders and the list of possible suspects grew. DNA and sophisticated computer systems were not around during the early 1980s. The task force had to rely on old-fashion police work to piece together clues to profile the killer.