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tv   2020  ABC  November 5, 2021 9:01pm-11:00pm PDT

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i avoid this place since 1990. my sister tonia bennett was murdered here. >> it was the most jumbled up case i've seen in my life. beginning to become very bizarre to mo. >> lavern and she and her boyfriend talking about killing a woman. >> she was a character. i could tell you. >> that a decade long relationship that can only be described as dysfunctional to put it mildly. >> the police start to zero in on john sosino >> i don't know who is trying to put in this on me. >> she says i know he did it
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because i was there. >> she points out exactly where that body had been placed. she couldn't have missed it by ten feet. i thought, my god this woman wagon actually here. >> this was sort of like luverne are you telling stories again. >> i always believed the truth would come out eventually. i just didn't think the truth would come out of the mouth of a serial killer >> like shop lifting. >> it's nothing like shop lifting. you're killing somebody. portland is located in multnomah county. it's basically northwest oregon. it's a rather large metropolitan area. >> interstate five goes right down through the city of portland. a lot of trucking. if you get on the freeway, you will see a lot of trucks. >> it's a trucking hub. it's also a shipping hub. it used to be that thousands of containers would come in on
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ships, land in portland, be taken off and put onto trucks and trains headed elsewhere in america. >> portland is divided by i-5 and the river. downtown businesses and the wealth were on the west side, and then you had more of an underclass on the east side. >> back in the early '90's, portland was a bit on the gritty side. definitely working class. no question about it. >> portland was like any other urban area. we had our fair share of violent crimes. >> murders would really get big news coverage because we didn't have that many murders. >> so when big crimes happened, people paid attention in a big way. >> portland, especially back in those days, was known mostly as a beautiful place. >> one of the most beautiful and impressive features of oregon is the columbia gorge. >> it's a place where god just
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decided to gouge out a big long ditch in the earth, and the columbia river runs down this gouge. but we call it the gorge. >> a place where people come to enjoy the outdoors. there's hunting, fishing, boating, hiking. just lots of fun activities to do. >> the area is on all the postcards for the state of oregon everywhere, and is also a very common location for the dumping of bodies, unfortunately. >> i worked for the multnomah county sheriff's office in portland, oregon. i retired as a sergeant. in january of 1990, i was working homicide. >> it was a monday, of course. everything was basically routine, you know, for about an hour. and then, maybe around 9:00, 9:30, we got notified that a body had been found in the columbia gorge. >> a community college student taking a drive along the old scenic highway discovers a body and immediately alerts the authorities.
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they were facing eastbound on the old scenic highway. this here is the crime scene. >> the body of an unidentified woman was found in the columbia gorge. it was off this twisting road through a very lush, forested area. >> when we got there, i had looked up the hill, and i could see this ravine and that there was a body there. it was a female. her clothing was lifted up above her breasts, and her jeans were down around between her knees and her ankles. and as i got to the body, i could see that she had been severely beaten and that there was a rope around her neck. and she was obviously deceased. >> she had been strangled, and it was evident that there had
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probably been some kind of sexual assault. >> authorities begin to process the scene for clues. they need to find out who this woman was, how she got there, and who's done this horrible thing. >> there was a head hair found on the body. >> the fly of her jeans had been torn away. it was missing. >> there was nothing there that would have indicated who this person was. there was no identification. the only items that we found were a small, red swiss army knife and a set of headphones for, like, a sony walkman, which were real popular back then. >> when she had still not been identified, the police had a sketch made up and circulated that in the local media looking for suggestions about who she might be. >> a great deal of time lapsed, probably seven or eight days. >> michelle white's younger sister hadn't been home for a week. no one knew where she was. and then, one night, a neighbor
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told her to watch the news. this is a channel 2 news breg. >> good evening everybody i'm steve durn. here is the stories we are working on. >> we had a young woman who was dumped in the forest and brutally murdered. >> and right off the bat, they showed it, a sketch of the person. i thought to myself, "well, that don't look like her." but once they showed the clothes and her shirt, all i could think about, "oh, my god. my sister." >> and at that point, the family recognized her as taunja bennett. >> she's a 23-year-old woman. she's described by her family as super friendly, but maybe a little bit naive. >> taunja bennett was intellectually disabled. she was coping, though, and had apparently some social life. >> she was a little bit slow, but she was the only one that graduated from high school. she read a lot. instead of watching tv, it was music. madonna -- that's what she
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listened to all day. >> taunja bennett had a history of some troubling behavior due to her lack of impulse control. >> we tried to retrace taunja bennett's steps from when she was last seen on the 21st of january. >> the day she left the house? i do remember. she said, you know, "i'm gonna go see my friend." i said, "it's sunday. the bus only runs once an hour. where are you gonna go?" she said, "yeah, i gonna go see my friend." i said, "okay, well, um, you know, take the movies back on the way." >> she had left her home, according to her mother, and she had some video tapes she was gonna return. and she had her sony walkman with her in her purse. >> she was carrying her soul to soul cassette tape, listening to her favorite song, "back to life."
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>> not far from where taunja bennett lived was a neighborhood tavern called the b&i, and she was kind of a semi regular there. a waitress at the bar remembered taunja being in there. >> she walked in just happy go lucky and was hugging people, and she was there playing pool with two guys. and then, later in her shift, she noticed that taunja had -- had left and the two men had gone. >> but she didn't know anything more about whether she left with them or who the men were. >> it wasn't unusual for her to leave the house and not come home for a few days. >> never found out what she was doing, how she was doing it. 'cause she kept everything a secret. >> we needed to check out who she's been with. who might have a motive to do something like this? >> police spend days trying to track down these two guys who were playing pool where she'd been hanging around. >> not only did we go to the b&i
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tavern, we went to, oh, gosh, i don't know how many bars. there was one down in southeast portland at 92nd and foster that she liked to go to also. >> they tried everything they could to figure out what had happened to taunja and who had done this to her. they were all dead ends. >> they opened an anonymous tip line on crime stoppers. and one of the phone calls that came in was from a woman. mouthed off a couple times talking about some dead girl. >> i shouldn't be telling all this, but i can't protect him anymore. thank you. ♪ if there's anything that you want ♪ ♪ if there's anything i can do ♪ ♪ just call on me and i'll send it along ♪
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>> i call it a diary of cases i've worked on. of course, this is just one year. and it's got a lot of the stuff about taunja bennett's homicide in here. there's 800 pages of reports. on this here it says, follow up on homicide, see file number, blah, blah, blah. so, i didn't go into detail. it was the most jumbled up case i've ever seen in my life.
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i wish that i'd have never drawn it to be honest with you. just my turn of the barrel, i guess. >> several weeks go by after taunja's body is discovered and the police really are trying to solve the case. they're working around the clock, but to no avail. >> the two men she was last seen playing pool with at the bar were eliminated as suspects. so, it was back to the drawing board for the detectives. >> they put out more information in the media asking for tips. >> also canvassed taunja's neighborhood, you know, you, that's basic, you go from door to door and ask people, "hey, when was the last time you saw taunja," blah, blah, blah. uneventful, no fruit there. >> the anonymous tip line starts blowing up and it was one caller who provided the break in the case they were looking for.
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>> he said that him and this guy did it appear and they took them up. one of them strangled to death. >> phone call came in that was a woman claiming, anonymously, that a guy named john sosnovske had been heard at a bar almost boasting, that he had strangled a girl. >> by day, john worked at a lumber yard, but at night he drank. john was an alcoholic. >> he was only on probation for dui but no criminal history other than that. >> they learned that john sosnovske, had a roommate, an older woman named laverne pavlinac. >> laverne pavlinac and john sosnovske were involved in a sort of a co-dependent, dysfunctional relationship. the details of which were never made real clear, but she was really wanting to be out of the relationship. >> laverne would repeatedly call the probation officer kind of claiming that, he was drinking too much, he was not pleasant to live with.
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he's real paranoid. he does his drinking after about eight at night. he waits until he knows nobody's going to come around. he's so unpredictable. and i know he's capable of being violent. i've went through many rages with him through the years. >> laverne eventually admits to the probation officer that she's the one who's been making anonymous calls to the police. >> this is typical behavior for her. they had a volatile rlationship. earlier she'd tried to pin other things on sosnovske. >> there was a bank robbery where they published a picture and she reported him as the likely suspect in the bank robbery. and the fbi investigated that case and found out that john couldn't be responsible for it. >> she agrees to meet with police, to talk with them about the possible involvement of john sosnovske in the murder. >> we were greeted at the door by mrs. pavlinac and she invited
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us in. she was very cordial, offered us coffee. and she struck me as just a really nice, older lady. i thought, "wow. this is -- this is gonna be interesting." you know, is my first impression. >> when police go to visit laverne pavlinac they find a 57 year old woman. she used to work at a state mental hospital. >> she was alone until she kind of latched into this relationship with sosnovske, who was 18 years her junior. >> i found it an odd relationship. now why she was attracted to him, i have no idea. lavern she had been with him at jb's lounge and overheard him tell a man that he killed a girl and left her body in the gornl and that he had serks with her. >> he talks about tying me up. plays with roof.
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implicating him further in what's gone on with bennett. >> lavern says on the night of her disappearance john came home at one or two missouri the morp. immediately jumped in the shower which lavern told police was very unusual for him to do. she was a groerly type person very accommodating. >> forgot about these. here is when you were born. >> she was like a best fronted. that's how i felt about her. tell her anything. she is caring. she is naive wants to help anybody she can help. >> she was a character. i could tell that you. she was funny >> we were so normal, and then when their marriage ended after
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26 years, 'cause my dad kind of looked elsewhere. that's when things fell apart for her. horribly fell apart for her. >> she had gone through a lot of difficult steps in her life. she had been divorced, remarried. the new husband had died of cancer. >> before he died, he had a farmhand, and his name was john sosnovske. >> they begin a decade long relationship that can only be described as dysfunctional to put it mildly. >> they were an unlikely romantic couple. >> i don't think she was in love with him. i think that she was at a bad place in her life. >> she was lonely, and she didn't have anyone to take care of anymore 'cause everybody was gone. >> police were able to get a search warrant to search the home that the two of them shared together. >> we were looking for a purse. a section of taunja bennett's jeans had been cut away. a fly section, we were looking for that. >> they're able to get into the house and they search.
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and they find basically nothing. except for a piece of paper that has t. bennett, dash, good piece written on it. >> "t", like in the initial t for taunja, "bennett. good piece." that, i thought was amazing. >> a good piece? the expression used to be a good piece of -- >> was that a reference to a woman he had just murdered and raped? >> they're not able to identify who that handwriting is but it moves the investigation somewhat forward. >> the police decide to question john sosnovski, and they bring him in. >> do you have any knowledge of the death of taunja bennett? >> then they discover something that will turn this entire case on its head. >> it's beginning to become very bizarre to me. let's go! and when it comes to streaming movies, we haven't really experienced any buffering. it's so cool that we'll have access to movie theater-level quality pretty much anywhere. seeing it load up that quick i was genuinely surprised.
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i've driven this road at least a thousand times when i was a kid. i avoid this place since 1990 when my sister, taunja bennett, was murdered here. >> this is area where taunja bennett's body was dumped. >> the homicide investigation is finally picking up speed. laverne pavlinac says she heard her boyfriend talking about
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killing a woman. >> after searching laverne and john's apartment and finding that note with taunja bennett's name on it, the police start to zero in on john sosnovske. >> on the strength of statements from laverne pavlinac, the detectives got john sosnovske to come down to the station. >> he agreed to accompany us to a substation located in wilsonville. at that point we interview john. >> today is friday, february 16th, 1990. time now is 6:40 p.m. mr. john allen sosnovski. john, you realize that this conversation is being recorded. >> yes, i do, sir. >> you understand, we're investigating the homicide of taunja anne bennett? >> yes, sir. >> first of all, he was cooperative. he was willing to speak with them and talk to them. >> we've shown you, a polaroid
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photograph, of taunja anne bennett. do you recognize this person? >> no. i do not, sir. >> do you recall, ever having seen this person before, in your life? >> no, sir. >> did you have a conversation, with an individual, in a lounge, jbs, regarding the murder of taunja bennett? >> no, sir. >> do you have any knowledge, of the death of taunja bennett? >> no, sir. >> john sosnovske was adamant that he had never met taunja bennett and that he definitely didn't kill taunja bennett. >> that of course was flying in the face of what pavlinac was saying. one of them is lying. >> anything else, you'd like to say, sir? >> yes. if i may. i'm more than willing to help in any way that i can, and clear myself, and to help you people. because, i have nothing to hide.
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>> we'll conclude the interview. time now is 6:58 p.m. >> they took a hair sample, um, from john sosnovske to try to match that up to evidence from the crime scene. >> the interview ends but john is sent home. the police decide they just don't have enough evidence to arrest or detain him. >> the interesting part is that right after he gets released pavlinac contacts detectives again and she's very concerned about why things aren't going her way. >> she was now engaged in this process. in fact, she was showering them with calls at all times and kind of escalating the situation. >> over the weekend, laverne had contacted me and said that john had told her he may have written that note that was found in a dresser room that said, "t. bennett, good piece."
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>> laverne, contacts law enforcement again and says, "oh, i have even more for you." >> she had found a strange purse in her trunk of her car. >> it contains news clippings about taunja bennett's, uh, murder, and also contained, um, a cutaway piece of denim from a pair of girl's jeans. >> remember when taunja's body was found, the fly had been cut out of the jeans. now police think this is a huge break because this appears to be that missing piece of denim. >> i'm thinking, this is really amazing. >> killers will often take a little trophy. they'll take a little memento. they'll keep something from the victim >> and there's more good news for police, there's physical evidence that seems to corroborate laverne's claims to the police. >> there was a head hair found on taunja's body that was consistent with john sosnovske. >> i can't say that it is for sure john's. i can't say that it isn't john's, but it's a distinct possibility.
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>> it wasn't like a fingerprint. it was just a corroborating piece of evidence. >> armed with this new evidence, detectives go back to john sosnovske and they ask him to take a lie detector test. >> took a polygraph, flunked it. >> the examiner informs corson that in his opinion, john sosnovske has direct knowledge of the death of taunja bennett. >> after he is told that he was deceptive, sosnovski begins to hau modify his version. >> he writes out a seven page statement and reads it on tape. >> i have seen t. bennett at jb's truck stop on several occasions. the last time was 21 january, 1990. i was visiting with chuck riley, who was playing darts. >> he says that, yes, they were in the bar and that taunja left with another guy. >> they went to a nearby truck stop, supposedly, to have sex
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with each other. >> later that evening i saw chuck riley and asked him for a ride home. i believe i saw a body in the back of the car. the body was wrapped in a blanket. the body was one of a white female, adult. i had not known how she was killed. >> john sosnovske has moved from never knowing or seeing taunja bennett all the way through to seeing her dead in the back of chuck riley's car. >> we go and try to talk to chuck riley. he says, "you're crazy. no, that didn't happen at all." >> mr. riley, do you have any knowledge in the death of taunja ann bennett? >> none. >> do you have any responsibility? were you involved in that personally? >> no. >> do you know anything about this gal at all? >> no. >> do you have any idea of why mr. sosnovske would tell the police that you were involved in that? >> no, i do not know why he would do something like that. >> chuck riley voluntarily says, "hey, look." he says, "you guys can search my car." >> fully cooperative with the examination of the car.
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>> it's totally processed. there isn't one item of evidence in there. to indicate that taunja bennett had ever been in that car. no blood, no hair. nothing. >> there was no indication at the truck stop that any room had been rented, either by that man or by taunja bennett. he passed his polygraph. >> the chuck riley story in the analysis of the investigation becomes a deflection by sosnovske who we believe is responsible for the murder. >> police really need something much more concrete to be able to arrest him for taunja's murder. so, they get a warrant and they install a wiretap in john's apartment. >> i just think about that girl's mother and it just makes me sick. >> we were outside in an unmarked van. we asked laverne to try to get john to volunteer information regarding homicide of taunja bennett. >> oh. i dumped the body into the
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gorge. >> you carried it. >> oh no, no, no. who's trying to put this [ bleep ] on me? i don't remember going to no gorge, dumping no body for god's sake. i don't. and he raises his voice and says, "i don't know what you're talking about. are you trying to frame me?" >> john, that's the worst thing you've ever gotten yourself into. in 2016, i was working at the amazon warehouse when my brother passed away. and a couple of years later, my mother passed away. after taking care of them, i knew that i really wanted to become a nurse. amazon helped me with training and tuition. today, i'm a medical assistant and i'm studying to become a registered nurse. in filipino: you'll always be in my heart. spray, lift, skip, step. swipe, lift, spin, dry. slam, pan, still...fresh
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>> in the month since taunja was murdered, so much is happening in the world: politics, the arts, sports. joe montana threw those five touchdowns to win the super bowl for the 49ers. >> good evening, this was nelson mandela's first full day of freedom. >> nemesis man della walking free after decades in prison.
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>> i have spent a great deal. >> and taunja' favorite song, back to life by soul ii soul, it won the grammy. >> for the detectives, their investigation hits a major roadblock when they examine evidence found in laverne pavlinac's trunk. >> one of the items that she provided for them was a piece of cloth from a pair of levi's jeans. >> she hands them a purse that is of similar description to what taunja bennettwould have >> her mother said no that's not her purse. i've never seen that purse before." >> we send a section of jeans down to the crime lab to have them compared to taunja's jeans that she was wearing when she found, and it doesn't match. >> so, that tells you laverne is fabricating evidence. >> we confronted laverne with that fact. and, uh, laverne admitted that she had planted those items in the trunk of the car trying to convince us that john sosnovske had been involved in the homicide of tanya bennet. >> she wanted him out of her
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life, and she thought, "this is the way to get this man away from me." >> when they confront her, she then implicates herself. she says, "i know he did it because i was there." >> laverne tells police a new story that she got a call from john in the middle of the night and that he had a request. >> the phone rang. it was john sosnovske calling to tell me he was in trouble and to come fast. >> what did he want you to bring? >> bring something large to wrap something in. >> okay, and what did you take with you when you went to see john at the jb lounge? >> a blue shower curtain. >> she stated also that she had met john sosnovske at jb's lounge, um, and brought along a shower curtain >> when she pulled into the parking lot there was body laying on the pavement. >> and as you drove closer, what did you find that something on the ground to be?
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>> a female. she was lying on her side, very prone, very quiet. >> laverne pavlinac said she immediately recognized the woman to be taunja bennett, a former patient at the mental hospital where pavlinac herself once worked. >> she asked john said, "is she okay?" and he said, "it's worse than that. she's dead." >> i said, "why is she dead?" he says, "because i choked her." i said, "i think we need to take her to a hospital. we need to report this, john." "no, no. i'll go to the pen. i'll go to death row. >> he made her wrap up the body and hide the body in her car. >> he then drives to the gorge so that they can dispose of the body there. >> he opened the back door on the passenger side and pulled her out, and he went off into the woods with her. >> after dumping the body into the woods? do you recall any conversation he might have said to you.
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>> just that i better not open my mouth. that this never happened. or "i will cause trouble for your family. i'll hurt your family." >> at that point, she's implicating herself. she's saying, "okay, i helped him, but was only after, um, he had murdered taunja bennett. >> laverne, has changed her story multiple times, police start to be skeptical of whether or not she's telling the truth. >> so, at this point, the police need to really test the credibility of laverne. >> so they say to her, "okay. take us to where you disposed of taunja's body." >> detective ingram and corson take her out and see whether or not they could make sense of the physical locations versus what her statements were. >> they drove her, up to the gorge. >> there's a place called vista house that's kind of an identifiable spot. >> a well-known place to local people you can see up the gorge all the way to the horizon.
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>> but that's not where the body was found, it was more in the surrounding area. >> now, as corson and i are proceeding on the columbia highway. >> it's kind of this twisting, winding road, um, where everything, sort of looks the same. >> they drove the distance from the vista house to lateral >> we drive past where the body had been deposited. and she says, "well, we've gone too far. turn around." and we're driving back. and she says, "i think i remember this exactly. this here bugs me. stop." >> she got out and said, "this is it. this is where the spot was, this is where the dropped the body." >> she points out exactly where that body had been placed. she couldn't have missed it by 10 feet. and that absolutely astounded me. i thought, "my god, this woman was actually here." >> we have a photograph. she is standing in the forest pointing and the detectives swore to me they had not in any way given her a clue. >> they brought that information back and we said, "you need to
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go out and arrest him and put him in jail." >> john sosnovske has been charged with the murder of taunja bennett based on laverne's account. but now, laverne tells police she has something new to share. >> what she said was, "correction time." >> i thought, "okay, what do we got now?" >> this was sort of like, "laverne, are you telling stories again?" your eyes. beautiful on the outside, but if you have diabetes, there can be some not-so-pretty stuff going on inside. it's true, with diabetic retinopathy, excess sugar can damage blood vessels, causing vision loss or even blindness. so remember this: now is the time to get your eyes checked. eye care is important to your long-term diabetes management. see a path forward with actions and treatments that may help your eyes— and protect against vision loss. visit noweyesee.com and take control of your sight. most bladder leak pads were similar. until always discreet invented a pad that protects differently.
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explore floor & decor in person or online at flooranddecor.com multnomah county detectives believe they have finally solved the murder of taunja bennett. they arrest john sosnovske. >> we had enough probable cause to arrest john sosnovske and took him into custody and transport him to a booking facility. >> and a few days later, they
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get another call from laverne pavlinac, and she has more to talk about. >> so myself and det. corson go out to her condominium. she says, "it's correction time." >> "correction time." that's what she said to them. "correction time." >> i mean, those two detectives, their heads must have been spinning because this was a constantly evolving story. >> i thought, "okay, what do we got now?" >> in this conversation, laverne tells them that she needs to tell them what really happened with sosnovske and bennett. >> then we ask her if she'd be willing to make a statement on tape. and she said yes, she would like to do that. >> they then turn on the tape recorder. >> today is monday, february 26th, 1990. >> and she now revisits her trip to jb's truckstop. she went there to pick up sosnovske. >> you pulled into the lot. what did you see, if anything? >> i seen john setting with a young lady. >> that young lady we're talking about is taunja bennett. is that right?
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>> correct. >> sosnovske was there with taunja bennett, and taunja bennett was alive. >> sosnovske tells laverne that they're gonna give bennett a ride home. bennett and sosnovske both get in the car. >> john and taunja are in the back seat in the car. they're playfully fighting with one another. >> she slapped him. he slapped her. punched her, slapped her. and they were laughing. >> did it progress into something where there wasn't laughter any longer? >> yes. then it became serious, a serious argument. as we went further down the freeway, he said, "i'm going to take her." >> did he tell you that he was going to have sex with her? >> yes. >> you told us there was a point where john aid, "she's not going home." is that his words to the best of your memory? >> yes, it is. >> and they drive up to the columbia gorge. they get to vista house, crown point on the scenic highway. he tells laverne to pull into the parking area. >> he went to the trunk.
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and there was rope in there. he says, "i'm going to tie her up. it's more of a thrill this way." >> laverne says she gets out of the car and she goes to this stairwell, and taunja bennett is laying there in the stairwell. she's alive. >> john wanted her to get behind her head and pull the rope tight and tighten it around her neck while he was having sex with her. >> and what were you doing while he was having sex with her? >> i was holding the rope outward. >> he says, "draw the rope tight." laverne says she continues to draw the rope tight and looks away. >> he kept saying, "hang on, hang on." i must have tightened it as i was hanging on. >> she said taunja bennett was moving. suddenly, taunja bennett ceases to move. >> is the process of pulling that rope tight when her body went limp? >> yeah. it did. >> okay. ms. pavlinac, let me ask you a
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question. do you believe, sitting here today, that by pulling that rope tight, that you caused the death of taunja ann bennett? >> yeah. >> you do? >> i feel like it's my fault. >> laverne said at that point they put taunja bennett back in th car. they transport her to where her body was located, and they drive home. >> moments after telling her story to the police, she turned, in front of the two detectives, and confessed to the daughter. >> they have her tell me the story, and i looked at her again. and i said, "mom, are you sure?" and she was, "well, they told me i had to tell you tell you this 'cause if i told you, then they would believe me." >> now i'm thinking, "she's pointed out the dump site. she's confessed to us on tape. she's told her own daughter the same story, very convincingly." i'm thinking, "my god, she is actually involved in this." >> in this final version of what
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happened to taunja bennett, she has implicated herself in the murder, and she gets arrested. >> i'm told to place her into a holding cell. i say, "okay, laverne, now you need to go into that room right there." she turned around, and she looked at me. and she gave me a hug. i thought, "oh, my god, it felt like i put my mother in jail." >> they slam that metal door on you. that's when i started to realize what i had done. it woke me up. >> so once behind bars, alone with her thoughts, laverne pavlinac has a stunning about face. she says her dying grandson pleads with her to finally come clean. >> i finally told my attorney, "what would you say if i told you i didn't -- that i made all this up, that i lied?" he said he wouldn't believe me. and i says, "well, i did. i lied." >> and she told me that she wasn't going to plead guilty. and i warned her that she was likely to be convicted. but she still wanted to go to trial.
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>> her trial defense, uh, was that she had made this up. >> she recants her confession, um, and says, "i made it all up just to get rid of this guy." >> she says, "i just wanted to get out of this abusive relationship." so you're going to frame him for murder and incriminate yourself? who does that? >> she did say that she was sorry about it all. it was kind of a weak compared to what she had been saying. >> in the closing arguments, i argued for eight or nine hours. all of the defects in the confession. all of the things that were incorrect. i was convinced that she was innocent. >> but the prosecution only had to hit the play button on the recorder and say, "listen to her words." >> did you pull it tight -- the rope tight? >> yes, i did. >> and that's what causes you to believe that maybe she died during that incident at that time? >> uh-huh. >> the tape did the argument for
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him. >> we heard a lot of tapes of her making these accusations of what took place and all. so she really just convicted herself. we all found her guilty, all 12 jurors. >> the jury finds her guilty of felony murder and sentences her to life. >> now john is up next for trial, but he sees this is bad. she got convicted. he believes he's going to go down. he takes a plea. >> he pled no contest to the charge of first-degree murder to avoid the possibility of a death sentence and wound up getting life imprisonment. >> laverne pavlinac was so convincing that i think, um, people will tell you that john sosnovske himself came to believe, like, "i guess that must be what happened." because he blacks out so often he wasn't really able to account for where he would've been or to provide a more aggressive defense, something like an alibi. >> the night before laverne's
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trial was to start, i said, "you know, i don't feel right about this." i couldn't my finger on exactly what it was. >> just before the trial started, there were writings that were made on a bathroom stall door in a truck stop or a rest area. >> these cryptic messages were found hundreds of miles away from the courthouse. one in montana and the other in eastern oregon. >> "i killed taunja bennett." >> "two people took the blame." >> "so i can kill again." >> we don't know who wrote it. don't know when it was written, why it was written. >> it was classic hearsay, not admissible in evidence. >> so we never heard about it in the jury. >> there's somebody who's claiming credit for the murder of taunja bennett. >> who's doing this and why? is the real killer still out there, or is it some sort of creepy prank? >> it's the strangest case i'll have ever worked on.
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confessing to the same crime. >> i always believed that the truth would come out eventually. i just didn't think the truth would come out of the mouth of a serial killer. (tiger) this is the dimension of imagination. ♪ ♪
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emotion like my run has run out. i've been a killer eight years. >> we thought our case is closed and now looks like it's anything but closed. >> this handwritten letter with a happy face scrawled on the top, smile and two eyes. and i thought he is teasing the police. like ha ha ha here i am see if you can find me. >> then he started confessing to other murder. >> the recovery of the body located over the bank. zwloo it's taunja bennett all over again. >> gosh maybe this guy did do it and maybe these people are innocent. >> now remember, laverne had implicated her boyfriend john in
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the murder of taunja bennett, even claimed she was involved. but now there is a whole new suspect. >> they now have not just an anonymous letter writer drawing a happy face ned a real person. >> he would tell anybody who would listen, i'm the happy-faced killer. >> sent us from prison. >> love mother. >> here is us right here. >> >> for more than 25 years, bonnie and darlene have literally saved everything related to their mother's case. >> "air tight except for a lot of leaks." here we are visiting mom at the women's prison. in her prison photo. >> pokey picture. >> pokey picture. >> she was very giving. she'd give her the shirt off her back. >> yeah. >> i mean, she was that kind of woman. that's why all of this is doesn't make sense. >> but their mother laverne told
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a series of stories that implicated both herself and her boyfriend, john sosnovske in the murder of taunja bennett. she not only confessed to pulling the rope around taunja's neck, she pointed out the exact spot where taunja's body was found. >> i think what happened to mother was -- she was in an abusive relationship, and she was desperate. and desperate people do desperate things. >> people are like, "who would do that?" >> she must have been really desperate though. >> she must have been. >> yeah. >> these two sisters knew that their mother was not guilty in their hearts, but nobody would listen to them. then in the spring of 1994, they discovered that there was at least one other person who believed laverne was not guilty. >> i got a call on my cell phone and it was phil stanford from "the oregonian." and he said, "darlene, i think we know who's done all this. i think we can get your mom out."
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>> at "the oregonian," every morning, there would be letters and tips. complaints. i remember that day, we got a really sick one. this handwritten letter, several pages, with a happy face scrawled on the top. a smile and two eyes. >> and these were anonymous letters. >> about halfway through the first page, the writer confessed to a murder. named the victim, taunja bennett. but we already have two people locked up in prison. you know, laverne pavlinac and john sosnovske. >> so, it looked like a hoax. but the letter just went on for several pages. all handwritten.
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and then he started confessing to another murder and another. >> i went to truck driving school and learned to drive. while driving i learned a lot and heard of people that have gotten away with such a crime because of our nomad way of life. >> here's a guy who is a long haul trucker. he pulls into a town and sleeps in his cab. and he is gone. who even knew he was there? >> i had to decide whether i was gong to recycle it or do something with it. i decided i would give it to a reporter, a guy named phil stanford. >> phil sanford. who -- who was sort of a muckraker in many respects. but, he could be pretty thorough. >> the letter said -- five of five. sort of cryptic. turned out to be five -- five
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murders he was talking about. and the first one was a local murder. taunja bennett. two people were already in prison for that. and i figured, "you know, okay, i'll check out the other four." >> this person says that he killed five women in the past four years or so in two different states -- in oregon and california. >> i called the authorities in these other locations where the writer claims to have killed women. and dumped their bodies. and there were bodies in every one of those cases. >> we first got a copy of a letter from a reporter in portland, signed with a smiley face. and he claimed responsibility for a jane doe homicide that we had. and we had no other leads at that point. >> i killed her and dumped her body about seven miles north of blythe on 95.
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>> he described the location, which was correct. we did find duct tape at the scene. >> he knew things -- that no one would have known unless they were the killer or an investigator. >> stanford's a journalist so he decides to go back to take another look at taunja bennett's police file. >> pretty soon, it came clear to me that these people didn't do it, even though they'd confessed. they didn't do it. >> i went over everything that he wanted to report. and double-check and triple-checked it. and it all checked out. and we decided that he would report it in a series. >> now, at that point, they didn't know who had written the anonymous letters. phil stanford, he's the one who came up with the nickname happy face killer. >> the letter was of keen interest to the newspaper. but authorities looked at it with skepticism. they weren't going to put much stock in it unless they knew who wrote it. >> i thought -- i thought, "he's teasing the police", you know?
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like "ha ha ha, here i am. see if you can find me." "look over your shoulder." "i might be right behind you." obviously the guy was mentally ill, to say the least. >> i read all the information he was -- stanford was putting out in his columns. there really wasn't anything in those letters about taunja bennett that hadn't been widely discussed at the trial. it was very good reading, but it was really nothing we could deal with criminally on our cases. >> nothing really came of the happy face letter. think about it. detectives in multnomah county weren't about to reopen a murder case because of an anonymous letter, especially since they already had two people in prison for the killing of taunja bennett. >> then in march of 1995, another dead body in the columbia gorge. t of the river in skamania county, washington. >> we're about a quarter mile, maybe a little less into skamania county from the clark
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county side on state route 14, which is also known as the evergreen highway. this is where the motorist pulled over to urinate.>> he ha guard rail, walked over and closer to the bank where it's a little more wooded area where you could be a little bit more concealed from the traffic. >> this is 911. how can i help you? >> i think i found a body alongside the road. it looks like a female. i can see a hand with fingernail polish. >> so, looking just down over the bank about 20 feet down, there's a little vine maple broad-leaf tree that comes up right there. her body was found just next to that and a little bit uphill from that. >> this is the recovery of a body located over the bank. >> as we approached the scene where she was located, the first thing that i was struck by was that she was completely nude. there was no purse. there was no jacket. there was no anything nearby that could possibly give us an identity to who this person was.
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there appeared to be some adhesive on her cheeks and over her mouth, that appeared consistent with maybe the adhesive from duct tape. i noticed that there's a dark discoloration on her shoulders and neck area. it could have been consistent with strangulation. >> it's taunja bennett all over again. another woman found dead with no id. a naked body found in the columbia river gorge, death by strangulation. and another phone call to police confessing. >> i checked my voicemail, and i received a telephone message. recording on my anning machine. i was very surprised for it. >> you were right. ♪ “i got you babe” by etta james ♪ ♪ wait hold up! here it comes! alright, everybody stand up straight. okay now let me flip it.
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>> god will be my judge when i die. i am telling you this because i will be responsible for these crimes and no one else.
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but i will not turn myself in. i am not stupid. s been a year sincth happy fa articles appeared in laverne's daughters are trying in vain to clear their mother's name in the murder of taunja bennett. but the news cycle has already moved on. >> in march of 1995, i received a telephone call from my supervisor saying that they had recovered a body a female that was over the embankment on highway fourteen. there was no identification on her. we had no idea who she was. >> the medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was due to manual strangulation during the autopsy, the fingerprints were lifted of the victim. we were able to identify her as julie winningham. >> then this is julie with my son, this is julie with jeff.
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this was in 78. this was taken. she was my best friend. i called her jules. >> she was five foot two, blonde hair, blue eyes, weighed about 98 pounds, and adorable. lways wore her hair very short, did not like long hair, always loved hoop earrings. she was just cute. >> yeah. wasn't she beautiful? she truly was. she was beautiful inside as well as outside. and that's how i remember her. >> she was a free spirit, and she would go here, there, and she would go to work at a place, and wouldn't work for very long because she would always go out on the road. she would pop in and pop out, and over the years, she was that type of person. >> but melissa says the last
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time she saw julie, they had this really big blow out fight about julie's partying and her drinking and then she never saw her again. >> i told her to get out, and then she went back out on the road. i knew we would make up, because you can't be friends for 20 years and not make up, i felt very guilty for a number of years because i feel that, if i hadn't had that fight with her, she would never have left town, and she might be alive today. >> we showed her photograph to other residents of the area, other people in the area that we were able to identify who she might have been hanging out with. >> and as the investigators were going out, they, those interviews were being audio recorded on there.
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it was a little micro cassette player. >> this is detective joel lebow of clark county sheriff's office. the date is march 16th, 1995. investigators talked with several people who hung out with >> where do you know julie from? body was discovered >> where do you know julie from? >> i know her from down on d street, when she came over with the guy. >> okay. was julie here with someone else? >> yes, she was. >> okay. can you tell me a little bit, how'd they get here? >> in a blue semi-truck. >> interviewing other friends of julie winningham and we're getting a picture that she had been seen with a very large man, long haul truck driver, drove a blue semi truck, conventional cab. >> what did he look like? >> he was tall, built, brown hair. >> he was about 6'6", good 300
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pounds. >> police learned that julie was in a relationship with a very tall large trucker, that they were talking about moving in together and julie had even told some people that they were engaged to be married. >> so, it's something that it was a close relationship with whoever this man was. unfortunately, the friends culdn't remember what his name was. >> do you know the guy's name? >> no, i don't remember. >> who was that person? >> i don't know. i think his name was chris. >> i recall either rich or chris. those are the two names. i couldn't say for sure though. >> julie introduced me to this guy and i can't for the life of me remember if his name was chris or keith, >> from an investigative standpoint, we obviously wanted to talk to him. we wanted to find out if he knew what happened to julie winningham. because as far as we knew, he was probably the last person to be with her. >> there were several names
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nobody actually recalled what his name was until we met with bonnie valenstein. >> how do you know julie? >> we met in a restaurant that i used to work at. she used to come in and have coffee witme all the time >> and bonnie tells us that she had actually sold or bought a car from julie winningham recently. >> her new fiance. that's how she introduced him. i don't remember personally what his name was, but everybody said it was jerry, so. >> somebody mentioned it was jerry? >> yeah, her new fiancé. that's how she introduced him. >> then what happened? >> he wrote up the bill of sale, she signed it. >> so obviously we asked to see this bill of sale. she did show it to us. and at the very bottom, not only is there a signature of this long haul, very large, long haul truck driver, but there's a printed name above it. keith hunter jesperson. and that was our first knowledge of who this long haul truck driver was that she had been seeing.
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>> we're starting to hear these things about this long haul truck driver keith jesperson, that was really starting to concern us. these were people that possibly were getting married. it was a pretty significant relationship as being described to us. yet, where's keith jesperson? this person was just gone. where's this person at and why aren't they here asking questions? >> it was hard to pin down any information, but all of their research around trucking and truck stops and truck companies led them to an important clue. he drove a blue rig, just like
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the kind that the twt truckers drove and that was a really key detail. >> so we, we just traveled to spokane, asked to speak with the management. just ask a little bit of questions about keith jesperson, admitted that he was a driver for them. >> so then the trucking company told buettner that jesperson was actually due to make a delivery in las cruces, new mexico in just two days. >> we flew down ahead of him. we were able to set up there, wait for him to show up. >> we identified ourselves as detectives. ask if he'd come to the sheriff's office to talk to us. he said he could absolutely go there no problem. and that was our first -- our first insight into keith jesperson. because keith jesperson thoroughly enjoyed talking about about how great keith is. >> can you just state your full name please? >> my name is keith hunter jesperson. >> and your date of birth?
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>> april 6, 1955. i got introduced to truck with my father in jesperson contracting in 1972 when i was still in school. >> how did you get the nickname the happy face killer. >> i had the opportunity to talk to keith jesperson on the phone in 2010. i found him to be polite, and he spent a lot of time talking about himself. >> what was your childhood like? >> i considered it a good childhood. my father and mother were good people. we had tough love in my family. my father used his belt and my mother used a wooden spoon. that's the way he punished us. >> these photos and videos licensed from his daughter, melissa moore, provide a glimpse into keith jesperson's life. >> he didn't have close relationship with other kids in the neighborhood, was picked on. because he was bigger than the rest of the kids.
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>> yeah. i brought a yearbook. i've got keith's senior picture. this is keith's senior picture and his song he picked, which i thought was kind of ironic, is "born to be wild." ♪ ♪ born to be wild ♪ ♪ >> he was really awkward. i don't know if it was his size or what. but he just seemed really out of place and awkward. some of us called him, unfortunately, baby huey, and that wasn't very nice. >> baby huey, which is a cartoon character of, i think it's like a big chicken or something. >> here we going swimming. here we going swimming. oh, oh >> i got married august 2nd, 1975 in moxy, washington. >> okay. and you got two kids -- >> three.
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>> --you said -- three. >> he's a long haul truck driver. had been doing it for a long time. >> he would be gone during the week and then come friday. he'd be rolling down the road -- the dirt road with his semi truck and pull in. and we'd have a glorious fun weekend together. and then he would be off on the road again. >> i got divorced around the yer 1988. she packed up and moved to spokane with the kids. >> we see him at age 26 for a very important job he had. >> dr. robert schug is a forensic psychologist and he evaluated jesperson by speaking with him multiple times. >> keith mentions this period of his marriage when things really went south. so all of this really starts creating a very turbulent emotional period for the entire family, to be sure.
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but particularly for keith. >> once my parents divorced, my father's behavior became more erratic and creepy. it was like he was free and unfiltered to say whatever disturbing thing he wanted to say or do. >> once jesperson is tracked down in new mexico, the police go and get him and they question him. but he denies having anything to do with winningham's death. >> the interesting part about it is that after we told him that julie winningham was killed, he never asked how she died, what happened to her. >> we spent probably six or seven hours interviewing him with regards to his last contact with julie winningham. he -- he emphatically denied killing her. >> rick buckner and i -- we al were -- very concerned that at that stage. we felt that he had killed julie winningham and that we just
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weren't able to make the arrest. >> his story was that he had consensual sex with her. so we had no physical evidence. so how do we prove different? >> we were going to let this guy drive away. we're a couple miles away from the mexican border. and so we were pretty convinced that he was going to hightail it into mexico. and that would be the end of that. >> what the detectives don't know is that jesperson is desperate to cover his own tracks. >> i called my brother, brad. and i said, "you really need to get rid of this. go flush it down the toilet."
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i drop off and pick up my kids from school so, i can't work early. or late. and i need to make enough to make it worthwhile. i can only work two days a week. and it can't interfere with my other job. i can do full-time. just not daytime. and i need benefits. good ones. and you know, it would be nice if you paid for my tuition. like all of it. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ (sound of rain)
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♪ ♪ ♪ (phone ringing) ♪ ♪ ♪ (phone ringing) ♪ ♪ ♪ every home should be a haven. ikea. the plane ride back was pretty quiet from all of us, just racing through our mind what the next step's going to be. once we got off the plane in portland, i turned on my phone.
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i had a voicemail. >> this is keith hunter jesperson. i'm turning myself in in the morning. i've decided it's the best way. >> after playing phone tag for a tense two days, det. buettner finally gets the nomadic truck driver on the telephone for a critically important phone call. >> okay, keith. tell me what happened. where are you at right now? >> right now, i'm at the 4-d truck stop, exit 378 in i-10 in arizona. >> i told him -- i said, "i think you killed julie winningham." you know, "all the evidence points in your direction." but he was never hostile. he was never aggressive. >> okay. keith, why don't you go ahead and tell me what happened?
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>> she came in about 12:00. she came in and ate some pizza. >> told rick that she'd came to his truck, they had sex, and that he wanted to have sex again. and she didn't. and so he said that he strangled her. >> i knew i had to get rid of the body somewhere, so i parked in a wide spot and took her over to the side, tossed off the side. >> okay. at this time, what i'm going to do is i'm going to call the local sheriff's department and have them come down and contact you. all right? >> all right. >> when the officers got there, he followed all of their orders. he was secured and transported back to the sheriff's office. >> i flew down to arizona with another investigator and we took him into custody. >> she was my friend.
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she was my sister, and i would stand and defend her to this day. and i just wish that i had known jesperson because, if i would've met jesperson, i would have pulled her away from him immediately because i wouldn't have liked him. >> that confession was the key to the whole investigation. without his confession, we didn't have a case. we couldn't prove that he killed her. >> police almost didn't get the confession. jesperson admitted that before he gave himself up, he had tried to endhis life. >> i remember him saying, "there's not enough pills in this damn world that would kill me." >> he felt his back was up against the wall. he doesn't want to go to prison at all, obviously. when i spoke to him on the phone, he had described the letter that he had written to his brother. >> and i realized that by sending the letter to my brother brad, i shot myself in the foot. >> seems like my luck has run out. i have been a killer for five years and have killed eight
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people. i guess i haven't learned anything. >> i didn't know anything about the letter. we get back to my office, and he wanted to make a phone call. he said, "can i call my brother?" i said, "sure." i said, "obviously you're in custody. i can't let you out of my sight, but if you want to use my phone in my office, go right ahead." >> you have to remember jesperson was in jail for only one murder, and he did not want police to find out about the other seven murders he confessed to his brother in that letter. so he told him to flush the letter down the toilet. >> but his brother pretended like he threw it out, pretended as if he flushed it down the toilet, but he handed it over to the police. >> the letter described, basically, that he had been killing for the past five years and that he had killed he actually said he had killed eight people. at that point in time, we only knew that he had killed julie winningham. we thought that our case is closed. and now it looks like it's
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anything but closed. >> reporters covering jesperson's arrest remember the happy face letters, and they start putting two and two together when they start seeing the similarities between the bennett case and the winningham case. >> when we compared the two letters, you could see the similarities in the handwriting. >> and that matched. the dna, the fingerprints, the saliva on that letter also matched the happy face -- anonymous happy face letters. so clearly, they now have not just an anonymous letter writer drawing a happy face. they had a real person. keith jesperson. >> defense attorney tom phelan was appointed to the case. and at that point, there was only one murder, the winningham murder. but it didn't take long for tom phelan to learn that there was a lot more to his client, keith jesperson. >> the prosecutor called me.
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he said, "listen, we got this letter. we're looking into it." i look at it and i go, "okay." i took that and went and had a conversation with mr. jesperson about it. >> my lawyer comes in with a copy of the letter. asked me if there was any truth to it. and i realized then that the det. rick buckner had kind of put two and two together with the 1994 letter that dubbed me the happy face killer. >> he told me that, yeah, this is -- this is all true. "i had killed" -- you know, he said, "i'd killed eight women." you -- you ask yourself, "what do i do with this? how do i handle this?" this person's just told me he's committed multiple murders. >> meanwhile, jesperson is still behind bars seemingly enjoying his notoriety. he would tell anybody who would listen, "i'm the happy face killer. >> he was taking to the media, and that upset me. it upset the prosecutor, and it upset the judge.
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this is where it had gotten to sort of a circus level. i mean, i had to wake up each day and see what my case was doing. he just loves the attention. >> when i interviewed jesperson, he told me step by step what lead him to murder. >> you're breaking the law, but you're getting away with it. and so there's a thrill of getting away with it. evere plaq. now, there's skyrizi. with skyrizi, 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months after just two doses. skyrizi may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them. before treatment, your doctor should check you for infections and tuberculosis. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms, such as fevers, sweats, chills, muscle aches, or coughs or if you plan to or recently received a vaccine. ♪ nothing is everything. ♪ woman: talk to your dermatologist about skyrizi. learn how abbvie could help you save. all it takes for the mcrib - woman: talk to your dermatologist about skyrizi. with its tangy and juicy flavor - to be crowned “the most important sandwich of the year” is... to simply return. the most important sandwich of the year is back.
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>> after keith jesperson was arrested, he was almost, like, running a media campaign from the prison. wanting everybody to know that he was the happy face killer. >> he reached out to our television station and said, "i wanna talk." >> there are eight total victims in the following states -- washington, oregon, california, florida and wyoming. >> your saying you're the happy
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face killer? >> i am the happy face killer. >> it was just stunning to listen to. >> to accept this call dial five now. >> hello? >> hello, can you hear me? >> yeah. >> one of your lawyers says you were a difficult client because you liked the spotlight so much. >> i needed the press to help get the evidence up front to show that they had the wrong people in prison. >> you say it's because you wanted to help the innocent victims behind bars. but there are other people who suggest that maybe you just wanted to take credit for those murders. >> well, i understand the point of that. >> his demeanor's very soft spoken. he engages in humor, you know? you can have a good conversation aside from the fact that he's responsible for eight murders. >> a lot of pe dopleescribe you as a funny, charming guy. and yet, you committed cold blooded murders. how do you reconcile those two personalities? >> it's just a moment in time when -- situations present
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themselves, and you become what you are. >> these were women who were simply at risk. he looked for victims of opportunity. >> he chose women, it seems, who were not likely to be found. and if they were found, difficult to identify. >> these women -- they were daughters. they were mothers. they were sisters. they did not deserve what he did to them. >> she was found on august 30th, 1992. the body at that point was badly decomposed. and to this date, she has not been identified. >> jesperson says a month later, he killed another woman. her body was found behind a local cafe in turlock, california. >> what about lori ann pentland? >> yes. i did kill her, yeah. >> what happened? >> well, she was a prostitute. i used her services. >> jesperson says she tried to make him pay her more money.
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he didn't like that, and he choked her. >> victims number five and six were both jane does, but located on opposite ends of the country. one in california. one in florida. >> what about angela subrize. is she the victim that you tied under the truck? >> yes, she is, yeah. >> he killed her and then he tied her body underneath his truck and dragged her for a number of miles. >> why did you do that? >> i felt that by dragging her under the truck that i would destroy all evidence of who her identity was. >> they had not even found the body yet. so, his confession to that homicide, actually led the police to the body and the details lined up with what he had described. >> it was shocking to hear him describe these victims so callously with no regard for their lives, for their humanity. >> did it occur to you that you were taking somebody's life?
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>> it became a nonchalant type thing because i got away with it. it's like shoplifting. >> it is nothing like shoplifting! you're killing somebody. >> it is everything like shoplifting. you're breaking the law but you're getting away with it. and so, there's a thrill of getting away with it. >> it's so gruesome, keith. what you're describing. i mean, there's a possibility that these people's family members might be listening to you describing this. >> i'm sorry it happened. wish it never happened. it's done, it's over with. >> it was just heartbreaking. the women he murdered were human beings and they all deserved to live. >> remember victim number one, taunja bennett? jesperson finally revealed after all these years her final moments. >> i interviewed him five or six times, and we got along. >> detective chris peterson from the multnomah county sheriff's
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office, and keith hunter jesperson. you want to talk to us about a homicide that occurred in 1990. >> keith told me that he had gone to the b&i tavern to play pool. >> this gal walked over and gave me a hug like i was somebody she knew. >> describe this female to me. >> i guess she'd be 5'6", dark hair. blue jeans, plaid shirt, tennis shoes and a purse. >> a lot of those details did line up really well, but he got some items of the clothing wrong. >> they decided to go back to his house. >> she made some comment to him that made him angry so he started to hit her. >> he ended up brutally beating her before strangling her. >> -- and ultimately tied a rope around her neck. >> he was worried about his fingerprints. so, he cut off the button on her
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jeans, got rid of it. >> he loaded her in the car and drove her out to the columbia gorge. we found no forensic evidence to link jesperson to this crime none. >> the detectives brought keith jesperson to the columbia river gorge. >> he said this is where he threw the contents of her purse. it was heavy brush just like you see to the right of me. she new details only the killer would know. >> if laverne is not the killer how did she know the exact area. >> tell me how you picked the spotted where the
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dumped. in the fall of 1995, keith jesperson finally pleads guilty to killing julie winningham and taunja bennett. >> while we were in the courtroom, he turned around and winked at me. so, he had no remorse. none. you could see it in his eyes. his eyes were cold as ice. >> we had to sit there and listen to what he did. you know, it's not an easy thing to listen to. >> i washed the blood off the walls what i could, eventually painted the walls of the house i was in and tried to forget about it. >> i think there may have very well been more victims, had he not killed his girlfriend.
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>> i had 40 good years, and i had 8 days of insanity, and i'm being held responsible for the rest of my life on these 8 days of insanity. >> the greatest human tragedy is that laverne pavlinac derailed the investigation in 1990, and in 4 years, keith jesperson killed more women. >> the number one question on everyone's mind is how in the world did laverne pavlinac manage to dupe the authorities? >> it was easy just to fabricate it. >> so, did you just remember what they said? >> i just did it from the papers and the search warrant. >> oh, so you got to read the search warrant? >> i read it when they were busy doing something else. >> but what about that photo which really was the coupe de grace that sealed john sosnovske's fate. how did she know the exact area where taunja bennet was found? >> just tell me how you picked
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the spot where this victim's body was dumped? >> i seen all these tracks and all this and that. i knew it had to be around there someplace. you could tell where people had been in and out, the vehicles and everything else, limbs broke. i just said it, this is close enough. >> why in the world would she put herself in the middle of that and get herself in a position to be convicted for something she didn't do? >> the way laverne pavlinac incriminated herself, it was a real head scratcher. >> i was a very disturbed person back then, i didn't even think of it as lying even, it was just a way to get someone to get him out of my home. >> on november 28th, 1995, laverne pavlinac and john sosnovske were freed from prison. >> we were all outside the door, and she hugged everybody, kissed everybody. >> just real happy, real happy.
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>> i really felt sorry for john. he sat there for four years in prison for nothing that he was accused of doing. >> as for keith jesperson, i had to ask him the ultimate question. does he have any remorse? what if anything are your biggest regrets? >> i'm sorry to the world, i'm sorry i am who i am. if i could go back and change everything, the world would be a better place. however, we all know that ain't gonna happen. >> actually feeling sorry for the people that he caused pain to? he said he doesn't. and it's just something that i guess he's really not wired to feel. >> sadly, we forget the names of the victims and i would rather remind people of the people who died than the people who did it. >> everybody has the right to be who they want to be. julie was young. beautiful. silly. >> i didn't know that anything was going to happen to her.
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she didn't know either, but she comes in my dreams, i'm good. she makes me happy. keith jesperson has ben convicted of six mursz in four stants. currently serving life sentences for crimes and the authorities in florida are working to identify one of his victims. that's our program for tonight. thank for watching oom. i'm amy roe back. and i'm david muir. from all of us here at abc news. good night. mall with police everywhere.
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>> what happened during this school board meeting that shocked and embarrassed

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