It’s hard to explain why Tere Ryder thought her half-sister’s murder was solved 35 years ago. “The best way to put it is that I was naive,” she says.
Ryder is sitting in the crafts studio of her cozy Edmonds home, next to a weighty cardboard box stuffed with notes, documents, and police records on the slaying of Allison Nakashima of Seattle, who was 15 when she was killed in April 1976. A runaway teen who split time among her mother’s Ballard residence and suburban foster homes, Nakashima’s naked, decomposed body was found a month later by children playing in a wooded area near Edmonds’ Five Corners intersection.
That’s just a few miles from where Ryder now lives. An amateur painter and sculptor, Ryder and her partner Gayle Ketzel, a photographer, moved into the home two years ago. Not long after, they were at a local market waiting for a deli order, standing alongside a uniformed Edmonds police officer. Aware that Ryder had recently been wondering aloud about her half-sister’s homicide and wishing she knew more about the killer, Ketzel asked the cop how they could find out about a long-closed homicide. “He seemed surprised when I piped in with the name Allison Nakashima,” Ryder recalls. “And he said they had just been going through her case boxes at the police station! I was shocked to find out that the case was still open.”
When Nakashima was killed, Ryder was 27, married, and pregnant with twins. Not long after the body was found, Edmonds police told her family—as Ryder remembers it—that the case was solved.
Shortly before her death, Nakashima had turned to prostitution to support herself. Arrested by a Seattle vice cop at a longtime street hangout on Fourth Avenue near Virginia Street called Steve’s Broiler (replaced by a parking garage in the 1990s), she ratted out the pimp who’d had “instructional” sex with her—he showed her how to give him a blow job, then sent her out in search of a john. The pimp was arrested for rape of a minor, and Nakashima was ready to testify against him. But prior to trial, the case was resolved by deporting the accused to his native Canada. Weeks later, Nakashima’s body was discovered dumped in the Edmonds woods. “Her body hadn’t even been found yet, her murder not even known, and he was deported, and the case went away,” is how Ryder recalls events.
Some of the case information she relied on 35 years ago was being filtered through Ryder and Nakashima’s Ballard mom (the half-sisters have different fathers), who was a drug addict. Details got a bit twisted, and it was an especially tumultuous time for Ryder, who miscarried the twins. “I never forgot about Allison,” says Ryder, now 62, “but the case was closed, I thought, and everyone just moved on.”
What Ryder has since learned is that the murder of Allison Nakashima—one of just two unsolved homicides on Edmonds police books—is a shut-and-open case. It is solved, authorities feel, but not officially closed.
The killer has been identified—not the pimp, police say, although Ryder isn’t convinced of that. And while police are sure they have their man, it is clear from interviews and voluminous police and court records that he will never be convicted of Nakashima’s murder—or any other slaying, or numerous rapes from here to California that investigators suspect he committed.
“He’s the genuine real deal,” says Edmonds police detective Dave Honnen, “a serial rapist and killer, a Ted Bundy type. You probably never heard of him. The whole story’s never been told.”
His name isn’t Ray Jacobs. But that is the name his girlfriend Margaret knew him by when they lived together before he almost killed her. They had met one day in the summer of 1975 at Seattle Center, became friends, then dated. Jacobs, 30, had lost his job at a bar in Tukwila, and Margaret allowed him to move in with her, first in Seattle and a few months later in a Kirkland house they shared. (Her full name and those of some other 1970s victims are not being published because they could not be reached for comment today.)
A 32-year-old single mom, Margaret knew little about her new roommate except that he was a cool and handsome catch. He came off as bright and athletic, a well-built six-footer with wavy brown hair, blue eyes, and an engaging smile. The tattoo on his right arm—of an anchor and the Navy logo—he got in the service, he said.
Jacobs could be extremely thoughtful, a trait women would notice and mention about him. But some also discovered a violent side that came and went in a flash. Margaret first experienced it one night in October 1975, just weeks after they’d moved into the Kirkland home. They’d recently begun to argue about their relationship and the way each thought the other should act. “We were making each other miserable,” Margaret recalled later in a police statement.
That night, Jacobs promised he could make things good again, and tried to hold her, but she backed away. His demeanor changed in an instant: He punched her twice in the ribs, grabbing her and dragging her into the bedroom past Margaret’s 6-year-old daughter, who was watching TV in another room.
The daughter heard Jacobs hitting Margaret, then heard her mom shouting and crying and fighting back. The girl ran to the room. Suddenly the other Ray was back: He stopped, said he was sorry, and began to cry, promising never to do that again. He told her they should go to the police station and he could turn himself in right now!
Margaret said maybe they just needed space—it might be best if he moved out for awhile. Jacobs relented, packed, and prepared to leave in the morning. Margaret and the daughter left early the next day, and Jacobs said he’d be gone when they returned. And he was, although he took some of Margaret’s blank checks, along with money from a piggy bank—and a door key. Friends cautioned Margaret to stay away until she was sure he was gone; after all, he’d assaulted her. She and her daughter bunked with others for days, periodically checking the home. After more than a week, she returned—and found Ray coming down from her attic.
He acted nonchalant at first, saying he’d come through a basement window to get some of his things, then grew more emotional: He was lonely living alone and planned to commit suicide. Margaret stayed calm, and at one point went down to the basement to see if he really had come through a window and whether it was closed. As she checked around, the cellar door shut behind her. She turned, and the muscular Jacobs grabbed her by the throat, taking her to the floor in a choke hold.
“Is this how I’m going to die?” she remembered asking herself, according to the statement she wrote for police. She began to struggle, grabbing his face; he in turn tried to bite her fingers. She scrambled free and stood up only to see him swinging an 18-inch pipe at her. He swung again and again at her head and arms, breaking her glasses and bloodying her face. “You kicked me out!” he shouted. The pain from the head blows left Margaret on the verge of passing out, but all she could think about was her daughter, and fought to stay conscious. “I remember one hit, and it just made my head go back and forth and my eyes blur.” She tried to reason with him: She didn’t kick him out, she pleaded, she was just trying to work things out.
Then Jacobs heard the daughter crying at the top of the stairs. “Your mother’s OK!” he shouted to her. Margaret, her face covered with so much blood she could barely see, sensed Jacobs was more worried about the child’s reaction. “Get me something to put over my hair so that she can’t see [the blood] and won’t be afraid,” she said. Pipe still in hand, Jacobs told Margaret to go up to the bathroom and he’d wash her off. Talking through a cracked-open door, Margaret convinced her daughter to return to the TV room, then dashed into the bath. Jacobs ordered her to strip, keeping the pipe nearby. He washed off the blood, but it kept coming. Margaret pulled on some clothes and held a washcloth over the gashes on her head; then Jacobs agreed to drive her, with the girl, to a doctor. He was old Ray again: deeply sorry. How could he have ever done that? he wondered.
Jacobs drove around for 45 minutes apologizing, asking Margaret not to tell police, and coaching her to say a stranger had attacked her. He crossed the floating bridge to Seattle, seemingly unsure what to do. “And so I tried to get him to talk about other things” to keep him calm, Margaret recalled, “and we prayed and he cried and he was really in anguish.” Jacobs finally pulled up to Group Health Hospital on Capitol Hill. Margaret and her daughter got out and Jacobs drove off. “That’s the last I saw of him,” she said after receiving 50 stitches and reporting the beating to police.
Kirkland police searched for Ray Jacobs, and tried to track him through police records. They found no criminal trail or driver’s-license matches. Whoever Jacobs was, he seemed to have vanished.
It wasn’t the first time.
Six months earlier, police in California were searching for a man named James Robert McQueary. Or, as he was sometimes known, Robert James McQueary. His aliases were numerous, and no one was certain if his real first name was Jim or Bob; he’d answer to both, as well as to John or Jerry, among others. Police were certain, however, that he’d raped and killed a teenage girl.
For the previous four years, 1970–74, McQueary had been locked up in San Quentin in Marin County, alongside San Francisco Bay, convicted of rape and kidnapping. He’d been suspected of committing numerous other rapes and attempted rapes as well.
Paroled in the summer of 1974, McQueary used his prison-taught barber skills to land a job cutting hair in a nursing home. In May 1975, according to police records and California news reports, the body of 19-year-old Terry Listman was found partially buried at a mobile home McQueary had rented in Novato, 25 miles north of San Francisco. She’d been stabbed or bludgeoned a week earlier. The victim may have been raped, police said, but tests were inconclusive; her remains were too badly decomposed by a Bay Area heat wave.
Witnesses had seen McQueary digging near his trailer, and he had confided to a friend that he’d picked up a hitchhiker and later found her dead at his home. He panicked and buried her, he claimed. Police said McQueary had a history of picking up young hitchhikers, sometimes claiming he was a cop, and threatening them with a knife or bayonet.
But McQueary had disappeared, and a dragnet failed to snare him. Marin detective Richard Keaton brought in a psychic he knew, Annette Martin, the first case in what became a long civic and professional partnership between the two (Keaton retired from the department in 1998, and he and Martin formed Closure4U Investigations to find missing persons and solve cold cases around the U.S.). At one point during her meeting with detectives—who figured McQueary had most likely fled California—Martin took deep breaths and went into a trance. Pointing to a U.S. map, she indicated the suspect would be found in Washington state. And by that time, he’d have killed again.
A bulletin for McQueary’s arrest was issued by the Marin County sheriff, advising other agencies that McQueary was “known to wear wigs and use cosmetics as disguise.” He was thought to be heading north, most likely to Washington. As it turned out, McQueary’s ex-wife lived near Port Angeles. Officials there were alerted; McQueary never showed.
But he did indeed come to Washington, quietly landing in Seattle and taking an apartment on Capitol Hill under the name Ray Jacobs.
A month later he met Margaret, whom he’d eventually almost kill.
Shortly afterward, he moved to Edmonds. And changed his name again.
Dalene recalled first seeing the man who called himself Jerry in March 1976. He walked into the self-service Rocket gas station on Aurora Avenue in Seattle where the 20-year-old woman worked as a cashier, and they began to chitchat about the noise the nine gas-pump computers made, whirring and clicking off and on.
“How can you stand it?” he asked, as she’d later recall in a statement to police.
“Sometimes I hear it in my sleep!” Dalene answered.
“Why don’t you get another job?” Jerry asked.
“I’m not qualified for anything.”
“Oh, yes you are!”
Dalene thought it was a suggestive comment. “You mean a prostitute or something?” she asked.
“No, nothing like that!” Jerry said. He told Dalene she should come to work for him. He had an antique business and needed a helper. She could have her own office and a typewriter, and he’d pay her $3 an hour plus gas and travel costs.
That sounds great, Dalene said. But she’d started her $2.25-an-hour station job only six weeks earlier, and was married and had a child. She didn’t think she could up and quit this soon.
Well, just come and see the store, then decide, Jerry said. He promised to call her.
Dalene waited weeks, but the call never came. Then one afternoon in late April, Jerry surprisingly walked in with a pack of cigarettes as a gift for her. He said they should go check out antiques that day to see if she was qualified for the job. Dalene was elated, and agreed to meet him at a nearby restaurant.
They drove up Highway 99 toward Everett. “He kept pulling me over and asking me to sit by him, and I said I was a happily married woman and that I was just interested in a good job,” she’d later recall. He made several other moves on her during the day, but Dalene brushed it all off because she wanted the work. He dropped her off, agreeing to meet the following Monday. He wanted to introduce her to his business partner and show her some land he hoped to buy. He told her to wear a short skirt. “I told him my legs were too fat to wear a short dress, and he said to wear one anyway.”
On Monday morning, May 3, they drove north again, pulling off near a wooded area in Mountlake Terrace so he could show her the property. She obliged when he asked her to wait behind a tree while he moved the car to another location 10 minutes away and returned. The land’s owner didn’t like him to park on the property, he told her.
They tromped through weeds and blackberry bushes, then into a woodsy area. Jerry led her off the path, down a slope by a large tree. Suddenly he threw her to the ground and lifted her dress. “I just want to look,” he said. Dalene was stunned.
“I was getting upset and crying, and I asked him please not to do that and if that was what he had in mind all the time. That made him mad. Maybe I was screaming, I don’t know, and he began choking me and I was fighting him and he said if I stopped screaming he would let go and I said OK.”
He pulled down her panty hose and underwear and pulled up her bra and began biting and sucking her, she recalled. She resisted, and he pulled out a long knife and stuck it in the ground next to them. She tried to think of a way out. If you want to have sex, let’s go to a motel, she said.
Jerry seemed to calm down. He began to apologize. But he wanted to know if she was just playing him. She wasn’t worth going to jail for, he said.
“He asked me to kiss him, and I thought he was just testing me, like, had I learned my lesson? I said ‘No.’ ” Jerry erupted again. “He looked like he had hate in his eyes, and he gritted his teeth and he threw me back and choked me three or four times, and I was getting really dizzy and weak.”
Then he apologized again and took the knife out of the ground. He let her hold it, and lit a cigarette for both to smoke. Seemingly humbled, he said she should just go ahead and tell her husband about what happened here and then go to the police.
Trying to appease him, Dalene promised not to tell anyone. Jerry took back the knife and said they should go get the car. They walked past a rotted stump and he began poking it with the knife. “And he walked around the tree and turned around and stabbed me.”
“Why, Jerry, why did you do that?” she said, falling back.
“I didn’t hurt you,” he said.
She lifted up her dress and blood spurted out. The long-bladed knife, a Nazi Youth dagger, had penetrated eight inches into her lower chest.
“Oh, my God,” he said, “I must have slipped.”
She lay on the ground, feeling as if she’d been punched, yet there was little pain, she recalled. When she tried to get up, he pushed her back, and began covering her with leaves.
Jerry said he was going to get help, and left. But she could see him in the distance, watching from behind a tree. She was losing consciousness, opening and closing her eyes. After a while, he disappeared. Dalene waited, then began crawling through underbrush, trying to reach the road where they’d arrived. It took several groggy hours until she was close enough to a home for someone to hear her cries for help. When police and fire aid crews arrived, she was weak, having lost a lot of blood, but gave police a statement before being rushed to the hospital. She survived.
Yet she didn’t know Jerry’s last name or much else about him, except for his car. Police alerted the news media, describing Jerry and his maroon late-1960s Chevrolet.
Though details were sketchy, within hours a woman called in a case-breaking tip: Jerry sounded a lot like a man named Johnny. He drove a red Chevy and had married into her family recently, she said. His name was Johnny Dopp and his new wife Valerie worked at a local hospital.
Mountlake Terrace police checked the hospital, but couldn’t locate the wife. Then came another female caller, saying the description fit a guy who worked at her nursing home. At the home, police confirmed a Johnny Dopp had worked there a short while until he was told to leave after making unwanted advances to a nurse’s aide. He was a smooth talker, drove a maroon Chevy, and had a thing for antiques, said a manager. He also sometimes used the name Jerry.
By the next day, Mountlake Terrace investigators tracked down Valerie. She was employed at another nursing home in north Seattle, and was due to show up the next morning at 8.
Mountlake Terrace and King County officers were waiting at 7:55 a.m. on May 6, 1976, when handsome Johnny Dopp arrived with his wife Valerie in a 1966 maroon Chevrolet Impala. He was asked to get out and place his hands on the roof of the car. The cops shook him down and advised him of his rights. He declined to speak.
The officers figured they’d just wrapped up a vicious felony assault case. They had no idea they’d nabbed a suspect in two homicides, including one that nobody but the killer knew about.
Ten days after Johnny Dopp was taken into Mountlake Terrace police custody, two kids playing in a wooded area in nearby Edmonds discovered the decomposed body, clad only in shoes and socks, of Allison Nakashima. Her panties were around her ankle, and other clothing was scattered around the crime scene. An investigation and autopsy would determine the Seattle teen had been missing for more than a month. She had been left in the woods at least several weeks earlier. “In view of the scene and circumstances,” wrote King County Medical Examiner Donald Reay, who did the autopsy for Snohomish County, “the death should be viewed as violent and consistent with asphyxia.”
Edmonds police had no immediate leads. But they were aware of the ongoing investigation in Mountlake Terrace of Johnny Dopp, who had now been positively identified by Dalene as the man who’d put a knife into her stomach and left her for dead. The two jurisdictions began to compare notes just as the FBI reported back on a records check police had sought: Johnny (Jerry) Dopp was also Ray Jacobs, the man who’d almost killed a woman in Kirkland.
More important, he was also James Robert McQueary, a convicted kidnapper and suspected serial rapist wanted for first-degree murder in California. Details of all the crimes he’d committed or was suspected of suddenly began to arrive, along with California officials who gave notice they intended to prosecute McQueary for the Novato slaying once Washington was through with him.
All of which was news to Valerie, McQueary’s wife. They had met in December 1975, not long after he, as Ray Jacobs, had left a battered Margaret at the hospital. Valerie said she worked as a housekeeper at a nursing home where McQueary had gotten an orderly’s job under the name Johnny Dopp. Valerie took the Dopp surname when they were married the following February, not knowing he had appropriated the alias from a driver’s license he’d stolen.
In an interview with Edmonds police, Valerie told detective Robin Hickok that she’d never seen Dopp lose his temper until a few weeks after they were married. That happened when she finally got around to asking him personal questions about his life and family. He threatened her and told her not to bring up the subject again. She’d become a bit afraid of him since, and didn’t ask many questions when he’d sometimes disappear from home for most of the day and into the night.
Detective Hickok’s ears perked up when Valerie mentioned that she and Dopp had recently moved to the Bothell area from Edmonds. John had seemed so happy at the Edmonds apartment, she said, until just before Easter, which was April 18. Then he suddenly came up with all sorts of reasons why they should move out. The exit was so sudden that they left owing rent on the apartment—which, she said, was just a block or so away from this nice wooded area.
That would be the wooded area where Allison Nakashima’s body was found, Hickok noted in his report.
Valerie recalled that Dopp had told her there was a tree house in the woods—it couldn’t be seen from the street—and that he was gone all night on April 10 or 11, roughly the presumed date of Nakashima’s death. He also liked to hang around Sambo’s restaurant in North Seattle, she told Hickok. (That was one of Nakashima’s hangouts too.) And, the wife said, for some reason John collects women’s underwear and hides them around the house. She agreed to hand them over to Hickok, who gave her a receipt for 25 pairs of bikini panties.
“At this time,” Hickok wrote at the end of his report, “the subject named Robert J. McQueary is a prime suspect in this case.” And maybe in others. A San Francisco detective called Hickok to tell him about four female homicide victims he thought could be connected. And Mountlake Terrace police were hearing from an array of possible—living—victims. More than a dozen women called or were contacted to tell their stories. Some said they were hustled by Dopp or Jacobs or whoever he was. A woman told of being accosted by him when he knocked on her door and said he was a door-to-door vacuum salesman: “He tried to kiss me” after giving his sales pitch, said one. Others reported he had posed as a plainclothes police officer and tried to arrest them for hitchhiking. One woman complained she’d bought him $150 in clothing and was never paid back. The manager of a bar where Jacobs had briefly worked said he was a problem employee who always hit on female customers.
And one caller said McQueary was the nice-looking, smooth-talking man who raped her a few weeks before his arrest. She had danced with him at a Lynnwood nightclub, and he forcibly led her out a side door to his car, then drove her to a secluded area. She’d been drinking and acting unwisely, she said, but when he began kissing and trying to undress her, she refused and got out. He chased her around the car half-naked, and she fell and hit her head on the bumper. He pinned her to the ground, and she “submitted” to the rape, she said. Then he began to apologize. He was like two different people at any given moment, she recalled. The woman later ID’d the rapist as McQueary.
Though he was questioned about that and other crimes, including the beating of Margaret and the California murder and the slaying of Allison Nakashima, McQueary would not cop to any of them. In effect, the Mountlake Terrace case would have to serve as justice for all McQueary’s real and suspected lawbreaking. It was the first, last, and only crime he was ever charged with in Washington.
He went to trial in August 1976, and after two days copped a plea to first-degree assault. The Snohomish County prosecutor asked for a 75-year sentence, citing McQueary’s criminal past and the near-murderous assault of Dalene, and a judge rounded it out to a life sentence. He gave no recommendation for a minimum term of confinement. But the state Board of Prison Terms and Paroles—now the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board—set his minimum release date at 50 years. If he lived that long, he’d have been free at age 80.
Just before his sentencing, McQueary tried fruitlessly to take back his guilty plea. He also filed numerous state and federal appeals, losing them all. Though the sentencing board later reset his minimum term at 24 years, making him eligible for parole after 2000, he was still behind bars in late 2009. That’s when current-day Edmonds police detective Dave Honnen began a routine cold-case review of the Allison Nakashima file—coincidentally, about the time that Nakashima’s half-sister Tere Ryder and her partner asked about the case after moving to Edmonds.
The picturesque waterside city of 40,000—home base of TV host and travel writer Rick Steves, where a street is named after homegrown Olympic skater Rosalynn Sumners—has an especially low violent-crime rate. Since 2005 there have been three murders, all solved. Besides the Nakashima case, the department of 56 sworn officers has just one other unsolved cold file—on Cam Totty, 24, a transient whose body was also dumped in Edmonds, behind a gas station. That was in 1999 (while McQueary was behind bars).
“I thought it was worth another shot to go over the Nakashima case again to see what we could see,” Honnen says. Besides discovering that McQueary was the prime suspect, Honnen learned the aging inmate was about to come up for a parole hearing in March 2010. Having served more than 30 years, McQueary had a good chance of being released. Honnen also discovered that California authorities, in the belief McQueary was in for life, had dismissed the Novato homicide case against him. Similarly, no Washington jurisdiction was likely to bring charges in their 1970s cases because of poor or missing evidence and disappeared witnesses.
In January 2010, Honnen and police chief Al Compaan began to alert authorities to this. Their own case was aged, and they had no physical evidence to charge McQueary. But the two cops were hoping someone else might step up. They notified California officials in case they wished to renew the charges and put a hold on McQueary. Compaan also wrote to the state Department of Corrections in Olympia, to the Airway Heights Corrections Center near Spokane where McQueary was being held, and to the Sentence Review Board, providing a summary of the Nakashima investigation and reminding board members that “Robert James McQueary is the only suspect.”
A month, then two, passed. Then came word of McQueary’s release from prison—to the Heritage Funeral Home in Spokane.
On March 7, 2010, two weeks before the parole hearing, Ray Jacobs, Johnny Dopp, and Robert James McQueary dropped dead. The cause was terminal throat cancer. It was his 34th year behind bars. He was 63.
“I guess he heard I was coming and he croaked,” Det. Honnen says with a satisfied grunt. His review of the case left him with no doubts about McQueary’s role. “Absolutely everything points to this guy,” Honnen says, “and I think he got away with more crimes than we’ll ever know.”
Not much is written down about McQueary’s early years. According to his state death certificate, he was born in Kentucky in 1946. He claimed to be college-educated, and several of his victims recalled that he spoke German with a Southern drawl. His parents are deceased, and his only sibling, a sister who provided the state with death-certificate details about his birth and background, died last October in Cincinnati, according to Ohio death records. No other relatives could be located.
Though police and court records throughout his criminal career listed him as both James Robert McQueary and Robert James McQueary, his sister said he was born James Robert. It was under that name that Jim McQueary, in prison, continued to pursue women, corresponding with female pen pals and eventually meeting and marrying two of them. According to public records, he married a Portland woman while he was imprisoned in the state penitentiary in Walla Walla in 1977. They later divorced, and he married a Yakima woman after being transferred to Airway Heights within the past decade. A Spokane court record shows the bride had the marriage annulled in 2005. Neither ex could be reached for comment.
It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction in recounting McQueary’s life, says Honnen. “He was a con man. What didn’t he lie about?”
Despite the detective’s strong beliefs that Nakashima was McQueary’s second murder victim, the suspect’s death did not wrap up the Edmonds cold case. No one has been convicted or confessed, and conclusive evidence is lacking. The murder officially remains unsolved.
That’s how it remains in Tere Ryder’s mind as well. She thinks the pimp deported to Canada had more motive to kill the teen. In an April 5, 1976, statement Nakashima gave to police about a week before she went missing, she tells of having sex with the suspect for $25 in an Aurora Avenue motel, then having sex with a john she picked up with the suspect’s help. The suspect denied the charges and agreed to be deported to Alberta in lieu of going to trial. The record is incomplete, but he appeared to still be in custody, held on $5,000 bail, at the time Nakashima disappeared. The pimp’s whereabouts today are not known to police. If he’s alive, he would be in his 80s.
In her role as amateur investigator—poring over case files and trying to track down new leads—Ryder learned that Edmonds detectives talked to McQueary after he was imprisoned. McQueary told them he wasn’t the killer, but claimed that one of his cellmates had confessed to the slaying. Case records confirm a 1978 prison meet-up, although in their report detectives said McQueary would not name the supposed confessor, and that they didn’t believe his story.
“Edmonds police told me they had no evidence that directly connects McQueary to my sister, so I’m not sure how they can think this case is ‘solved,’ ” says Ryder. “Reading through the case over and over, I am even more convinced they’re wrong.”
In some respects, Ryder regrets getting involved. She wonders if her interest in finding a killer provoked someone to spy on her. She has called police several times after strangers began parking for long periods outside her home, watching it, she says. Her late drug-using mother had ties to organized crime, she adds, and Ryder has come up with several theories about family acquaintances who might have had a motive to take out the teen prostitute.
She’s trying not to overreact to what she’s unearthed, but “As it was, when I did go to the police station here, it took me 30 minutes sitting outside before I could muster up what I needed to go into the building,” she says. She has spent long hours alone in the studio typing memos and scribbling little notes to herself, throwing them into a small box until she needed a larger box. The sleuthing has been at times exhausting, she says. But she felt she owed it to Allison, and thinks there’ll ultimately be a payoff.
“Researching her case was the last thing I ever thought I would be doing in my life,” says Ryder. “But I feel I’m close to resolving it.”
Det. Honnen, on the other hand, has moved on to other, current, crimes, though he also has his regrets. “McQueary was active during the Ted Bundy years,” Honnen points out, and Edmonds case files indicate McQueary was at one time a suspect in murders later found to have been committed by the Tacoma-rasied Bundy, one of America’s most notorious serial killers and rapists.
As part of the Nakashima cold-case review, Edmonds police undertook new DNA tests on the victim’s underwear and pants. The findings were inconclusive, but any match attempt would have been in vain, Honnen later discovered: Because McQueary was incarcerated prior to the passage of the state law that now requires that biological samples be taken from convicted felons and some misdemeanor lawbreakers, DNA samples were never gathered from the suspected killer. That left investigators with no hope of ever matching him to other cold cases.
McQueary seems to have defied investigators even from the great beyond. Three days after he died, his remains were cremated. But while McQueary will never be convicted of serial violence, Honnen’s review, and even Tere Ryder’s investigation, exposed the likelihood that he was capable of it.