Ghosts of Highway 20 – COMPLETE SERIES

Ghosts of Highway 20 – COMPLETE SERIES


I was convinced early on that we were dealing with a serial killer and if we really knew the truth I believe he’s probably killed more people in Oregon than probably anybody else For a predator to be in in
in a pen with all the the victims who knows how many victims he’s got? He had opportunity, when the opportunity presented itself he took advantage of it I don’t know why. Why? Why? I guess he didn’t need a reason What are the odds of being a prime suspect in all these murders? It wasn’t until later his first victim
that I even found out about, about this woman and that she was still alive and saying oh man she’s lucky to be alive He’s always been a demon in my life lurking in the back of my head and I
found these words that express it very perfectly it’s called “My Darkness Within” ‘Some of my demons left me, some are’ ‘just asleep, a few always travel
with me, others haunt me from the deep’ He was one of those ‘The little ones are
charming, they’re allowed to stay’ ‘the big ones tear me up inside’ ‘I just wish they’d go away’ I’m sorry Beginning in the late 1970s, a sinister
presence cast a shadow over an isolated part of Central Oregon. It lurked in the
background, ignored or unnoticed Women, often vulnerable or marginalized, were disappearing it wasn’t until decades later that a
reckoning finally came My name is Noelle Crombie and I’m a staff
writer for The Oregonian. Over the past two years I’ve investigated these crimes
and the man who is suspected of committing them. I’ve read thousands of
pages of police reports, travelled halfway across the country, interviewed
dozens of witnesses and spent countless hours driving the road along which the killings took place This is a complicated story that jumps
around in time, so throughout this video series you’ll hear from people who were
present at the events they described as well as those who investigated them, in some instances, much later You’ll hear tapes of police interviews that were conducted years after some of the events they address. You’ll learn information
that has never before been made public These are the stories of the ghosts of
Highway 20 In 1977 Marlene Gabrielsen was 20 years
old. She lived in the small city of Lebanon, along Highway 20, with her
husband and their new baby One night that June, the young couple dropped their daughter off with a friend so they could spend the night at the Sister’s Rodeo I was underage, shouldn’t have been
drinking, and I got angry about something now I can’t even remember, so stupid, that I just walked off and said, “Fine, I’m gonna go home” She asked around for a ride and eventually a man with a pickup offered
to take her home to Lebanon, about 80 miles away I thought there was nothing
wrong, I’d be safe it wasn’t that far from home. I didn’t even look around
inside the vehicle, all I knew it was just a beat-up old truck and I was going
home to my kid The man with the old truck was John Arthur Ackroyd Ackroyd was in his late twenties and lived in Sweet Home He’d recently returned to the
area after getting out of the Army, and was working for a local welding company,
though within a year he’d be employed by the state as a highway mechanic. That
night, he took Marlene west, toward Lebanon on Highway 20, a road he knew
well I noticed that there was no like covers on the doors there was no handles, and no roll-you-down thing I sat in the passenger seat
and didn’t even think, didn’t even faze me that this was a trap Highway 20 twists and turns as it winds
from Sisters to Lebanon, carving its way through mountainsides covered in dense
evergreen forest. It’s a sleepy stretch of road with little development and few
landmarks, and it’s dark at night Exits lead to logging roads or
campgrounds, and quickly disappear into the brush I fell asleep, well, passed out. I woke up
with my head banging on the seat and the edge of the outside of the truck door, he
had grabbed me by my ankles and just yarded me out of there like I was just a
rag dolly. And then he picked me up by the back of my neck and my hair and
threw me up against this like a little hill, I felt like I was in a hollow,
because it was, I remember it was beautiful because it was all green, and
little flowers blooming, little tiny ones First thing I thought of was how can you
be hurt in this kind of beauty? He grabbed this knife out of a coffee
can, that’s where he kept his buck knife, the big knife he held to my throat. He put
the knife to my throat, and told me I was going to do everything he said, and I said, “Yes, I will” and he stuck the knife in the ground next to me, he grabbed the front
of my pants, belt and all, and ripped my pants straight down all the way down the front
of my legs, and then he gets his knife and starts cutting off my boots. I just
kept thinking, just close your eyes, but I kept, um, and just let it happen He would grab my face like this and,
because I would turn my head and he would make it, “Open your eyes, look at me” Yeah, so I had to look at him And I did. He got done doing what he
wanted and he kind of stood over me and looked at me, all, you know standing
over me with a hand on his hip wiping his sweat away, you get treated
like that and you don’t even feel human, I just
laid there and kind of wanted just to seep into the earth, just take my body,
and renew, bring new life in, something that’s much happier than I am at this
moment He was gonna, going toward his truck and getting his keys in his pockets
and I said, “Okay, you’re just gonna leave me here buck-ass naked?”
I, I didn’t want him to stay but I didn’t want to be naked out in the woods. I think he started gathering up my clothes, what was left there because he didn’t
want to leave anything, my boots and, and all that stuff he ripped off of me, I
just had my jacket on and a little t-shirt top. He goes, “Now do I, what do
I do with you?” I go, “You take me home,” he goes, “I don’t
know,” and let me tell ya, I was talking real fast, real low and real sweet Because evidently I wanted to live I had a brand-new baby and a new husband Ackroyd agreed to take Marlene home that night. Her jeans had been torn during the rape, so he gave her a pair of dirty
pants. On the drive she did all she could to keep him at ease, knowing a rifle and
hunting knife were within easy reach I didn’t want to make him angry, and he
asked me if I’d be his girlfriend and I looked down and I see that coffee can with the knife in it and I said yes I had him take me, take me to my husband’s mother’s house got on the porch and just start pounding
on the door, he left immediately, just just left. She goes, “Oh my god, what
happened to you?” I had bushes, twigs in my hair, she goes,
“You need to get in the bathtub right now” and I said, “No, I can’t get in the bathtub right now, I’ve just been raped” She wanted me to wash him off No. I wasn’t gonna wash him off. I’d hold that shit in until they got him He will be in trouble once the police come and help me I did go to the hospital and had a rape kit done then I took my shower Marlene’s rape kit showed vaginal
swelling and bruising and abrasions on her back and legs. She went to police and showed them her pants, which had been torn from the
crotch to her ankles, her underwear, which had been cut with a knife, and her
slashed boots Despite this physical evidence, police
were skeptical. They interviewed Marlene several times, focusing on minor
inconsistencies in her story. They had her take a polygraph and concluded she
was not telling the truth Ultimately, they declined to pursue the case I always thought that that’s why these people get paid, to
protect you. They care, that’s what I thought, they care about you. All the
system was put in place to protect people. Not judge them, by who you’re
married to, what color your skin is They made me feel like a smelly drunken
native. So I just shrank, it’s just another something that I went in my
little life, in my young days I let my guard down and I was so angry, so angry. If they would only had listened to me and you know I feel guilty sometimes, if they would’ve just listened to me it could have all been avoided all of it Marlene was a vulnerable young woman
whose assault by a stranger should have provoked outrage and a demand for
justice. Instead, her account was disbelieved, deepening her sense of
trauma. The implications of law enforcement’s failure to believe Marlene
and aggressively pursue Ackroyd would be felt along Highway 20 for decades.
She was his first known victim Maybe, if police had listened to her, she would have been his last They were supposed to put this man somewhere where he could not hurt anyone else look what happens look what happens! I hear I’m the only freaking survivor A lot of people would like to know really what happened and I think deep inside somebody probably also is feeling and like they’d like to have someone gain the consequences of which they should get over this whole situation I think she prob, they stopped you know she probably ran he got his gun out Came across her jogging all alone on a road with no traffic and abducted her
and killed her and dumped her in the woods John just told me said well you know how I’m the last person that saw her alive By December of 1978 it had been about a year and a half since John Ackroyd had raped Marlene Gabrielsen He’d suffered no consequences other than a beating by Marlene’s husband shortly after the attack but that winter he would become intertwined with a
different crime it would follow him for the rest of his life and haunt a quiet community for decades In 1978 Kaye Turner was 35 years old She lived with her husband Noel in Eugene and worked as a manager at a local
public health agency Kaye and Noel lived across the street. I didn’t get to know them right away but pretty soon they became my good neighbors Somewhere in the mid ’70s, she started running A lot of us started running I mean we, we just, uh, you know, I mean it was right around the time of Prefontaine, Kaye took it up
somewhere in ’76, ’77 She didn’t just take it up, it became a way of life Kaye ran a marathon in September of 1978 and hadn’t let up a few months later when even a cold winter morning wasn’t enough to keep her inside On vacation with her husband and a group of friends at Camp Sherman a retreat outside of
Sisters, she woke up early and headed out on a run She was gonna run in the
morning and as a matter of fact had wanted, uh my wife to run with her, but my
wife had just taken up running and I think was a little embarrassed or
just couldn’t run with Kaye the distance Kaye would want to run and as fast. It was
still a little undecided but in the morning my wife at the last minute
decided not to go with her Kaye’s exact route isn’t known but she expected it to take about an hour When she hadn’t returned after more than twice that long, her husband and friends began to worry I guess I knew Kaye too well, um, and she was too stable and too smart, uh, to either get lost or to run away or
whatever people were thinking They searched but found no sign of her Soon they called the police I received a call from the Salem Patrol Office regarding the missing jogger at Camp Sherman The district attorney in Madras requested
that the state police help assist the sheriff’s office in investigating the crime Lieutenant Vetteto, Bob Cooley and myself was over at Camp Sherman interviewing people regarding this missing Kaye Turner. Couple of high school boys said, well, you oughta talk to John Ackroyd, he’s seen her since we did That’s when Ackroyd’s first name come up Tom Hanna, who worked with him
at Santiam, he was, he lived in Camp Sherman And he got off work about the
same time John did I think and when he drove down and went that back road to get to
the store, he saw Ackroyd’s pickup in close proximity to where Kaye Turner was
running Ackroyd was interviewed in in January January 11th I think. And he had
said, yeah, I was there He said he did see her jogging along the road. He wasn’t really a suspect, was only just of interest The friend whose family needed food was
Roger Dale Beck Ackroyd’s account of that morning shifted over time but he said that on the day before Christmas he got off work from an overnight shift at
Santiam Junction at around 6:45 a.m. He said he then drove west on highway 20
to help a disabled motorist turned around and made his way to Camp Sherman to see if there were any deer in the area There he saw Kaye Turner running
for the first time He then realized he was low on fuel and decided to head to a gas station about 10 miles away He turned around and passed Kaye for the
second time In some versions of his story, He claims he stopped and spoke to her briefly after almost hitting a dog with his truck Ackroyd says he then continued on to Sisters filling up his tank before meeting up with Beck and heading out to poach a deer with his .22 caliber rifle John was an outdoorsman He knew, you know, he would talk to me about tracking things He was a hunter and hunters doesn’t necessary restrict it to animals Reporter: Who are the searchers here today? Well, mostly friends of Kaye Turner’s, and uh, most of them will be from Grants Pass uh, she grew up down there, of course, and that, uh they’re friends coming up now to help us out here Reporter: How long do you continue a search like this until you’re just, just given up? Well in many cases we, we probably would have given up some time ago but uh, in this case, I guess, there’s enough people who are still interested and wondering what happened uh, that they want to continue Kaye had visited her parents two weeks
before her trip to Camp Sherman In their garage, on a pad of paper she knew her dad would later find, she wrote Hi dad, I love you. Kaye He didn’t come across that note until after she had disappeared It was the last time her family or friends would ever hear from her The only signs of her
that remained were some running shoe tracks in the mud by the side of a Camp Sherman road The tracker had, this is when Nike was
just brand new And they were all waffle footprints He had her, uh, boot big boot
tracks with a heavy guy and this and these Nike footprints going up this
trail that would from the paved road up up to ultimately where her remains were found
in that direction This guy comes in and says, you know, I found these tracks and I’m pretty sure they’re hers and involved in this Reporter: Tracks of her footprint? Or
was she dragged? Or what was the … Well it was, it was, her footprints plus a man’s boot and, from the tracks it appeared that there had been a struggle and that they’d gone
off to the side of the road and then back Reporter: So this is where she would have
gotten, have been taken? Right, right out through there Within a week, a few days after she
disappeared, they go through her desk and they find that in the last six weeks she
spent two extended weekends away with two, each, two other boyfriends each of whom was married, so you know the cops, you know, they got five suspects five potential suspects They got a husband, they have two boyfriends and they have two boyfriend’s wives You know it’s hard to find the needle in a haystack, but if you got five people that you got names of You go talk to them You know they searched for her, couldn’t find her The original investigators were convinced the husband did it so they really missed a lot of things Noel Turner, who eventually left Camp Sherman with a car full of unopened Christmas presents for his wife hadn’t known about Kaye’s affairs By concentrating on him in those early days of the investigation, police lost valuable time and gave short shrift to other aspects of the case Normally when somebody dumps a body in the woods, they don’t go miles out in there If you really, if you’re searching for a body you don’t need to go much more than a 100 yards off the road So, what you, what they should have done is covered her entire route 100 yards off the
road all the way around If they’d have really done a good job of the search, they’d have found her but they were so convinced that the husband had done it that they really didn’t do a good enough search but hindsight’s always 20/20 on
the things that we miss With no body and no leads, the case went
cold until eight months later when John Ackroyd walked into the Camp Sherman store and told the shopkeeper he’d found a body in the woods Nobody had any suspicions particular to
him until he walks in to the store and says I’ve found Kaye Turner He went to the store and reported that he’d found bones and a pair of yellow jogging shorts I interviewed him in the car and his face was perspiring and forehead was
perspiring and it wasn’t overly hot The one thing Clayton always told me
he said that John when he’d talked to him had told him about the god-awful stench when he found the body well all it was was weathered white bones There wouldn’t have been any odor involved on it There would have been as the body would
have been decomposing I had a very high suspicion John Ackroyd knew more than he was telling us For anybody that spends any time in the woods scrap clothing is not real concerning It’s not uncommon at all to find clothing in the woods and, uh, so that’s kind of hard to, uh believe that he was sure that it was her We went back the next day with a scout troop and searched the area we found a watch, the lower jawbone I found hair made into a bird’s nest I mean he’s sitting down eating lunch and he looks up there and he sees this bird’s nest and it’s not like any bird’s nest he’s seen it’s made out of this long, blonde hair
wrapped up with the twigs and all and it was right there where she had gone
down Bodies dumped in the woods are often
scattered by animals and ravaged by the elements the bits of bones Ackroyd found
were not obviously human an avid outdoorsman like Ackroyd would probably have overlooked the scraps of clothing as nothing more than debris but Ackroyd
immediately identified them as Kaye’s these peculiarities combined with the
fact that Ackroyd was one of the last people to see Kaye alive, made him a prime
suspect in her murder We got ahold of John and asked him to
take a polygraph He agreed to take the polygraph Well he failed the polygraph so Bob Cooley and I interviewed him in my office and he denied everything except that he did see her jogging along the road His polygraph asked if he’d
ever touched Kaye Turner and he said no, well he said, he did polygraph showed
that he did so we asked him about that touching her he said, well he did touch her in February, when she was laying on top of the snow During an interrogation after
failing the lie-detector test Ackroyd changed his story and made a
startling disclosure He said that he’d first found Kaye’s body two months after her disappearance his description was detailed and disturbing noting that her eyes were gone and that animals had obviously been chewing on her body her throat had been slashed and there was a hole in her chest that looked like the exit wound from a bullet Ackroyd claimed he didn’t report the discovery out of
fear he would be blamed for Kaye’s death The interrogation ended when Ackroyd
asked for a lawyer Reporter: Do you think he came back out here in February and just checked on … Sure yeah yeah yeah I think he was curious how it was going I would think he described exactly what he saw Despite being convinced of Ackroyd’s
involvement in Kaye’s murder after the changes to his story investigators had
no hard physical evidence If they’d have found her right away
they would have had a lot of evidence they would have had the bullet and they
would have had the tracks and not only the forensic evidence but they would have had good fresh witness information the sooner you can get there and the
sooner you can find somebody the more evidence you’re going to have to put the
whole thing together the longer it goes the harder it gets We had no evidence to hold
him so we let him go That was about the end of the case as far as we was concerned we kept interviewing people that come of interest It bothered me to know, know that he did it I think about it quite often He made the statement why did I have to find her I was the last one to see her alive there’s no doubt in my mind he was the last person to see her alive The suspicion and circumstantial
evidence implicating Ackroyd weren’t enough for police to arrest him The investigation stalled and he continued to live and work at Santiam junction roaming Highway 20 alone For more than a decade, Kaye’s case remained cold It didn’t surface again until July 10th
1990 I walk out of court and there’s a note there it says call Jason Carlisle Linn County DA I call up Jason and he says hey Bill have you ever heard of John Ackroyd? And I said yeah, John Ackroyd killed Kaye Turner and he said well
his stepdaughter disappeared yesterday and we’ve got an active investigation
going on We had had a two car head-on fatal accident A Honda car had hit a semi head-on and it had a young woman that was killed
in the Honda car and the semi had blocked the road in such a way that the tow trucks couldn’t get it out and they needed a piece of highway equipment so John showed up at the scene I deliberately saw to it that none of the
normal guys that helped me helped me remove the woman’s body from the car I asked Ackroyd to help me remove her from the car and I did that because I
wanted to see what his response was to handling this woman’s body and I was not
prepared for what happened because as we took her out of the car, he told me that
he was surprised at how light she was and that she weighed the exact same
amount as Rachanda, his stepdaughter that was
missing She went missing on July 10th, 1990 Around 10 o’clock is when she went
missing if I would’ve had someone take me home then, I might have came up on something it makes me so angry because like I I feel like she could have been saved So who’s the most likely suspect? John Arthur Ackroyd I don’t think, I know who killed my sister, John Ackroyd is the one who killed my sister She’s up on that mountain somewhere, she’s got to be By 1990, the case of Kaye Turner’s murder
had long been cold Police strongly suspected that state highway mechanic
John Ackroyd had killed her but lacked evidence to charge him In the decade-plus that had passed, some of the original investigators had retired witnesses had moved away and the Turner case had faded into the background as an unsolved murder but soon another disappearance would reignite those
lingering suspicions and draw a new generation of investigators into
Ackroyd’s orbit In July of 1990, Rachanda Pickle was 13
years old she loved animals, helping her mother
with chores and bossing around her 14-year-old brother Byron she lived with
her family at Santiam Junction a state highway maintenance yard at the junction of highway 20 and highway 22 about 26 miles west of
Sisters Just a typical 13-year-old very much into the latest fashion of the time very into the most top 40 music she was
wonderful couldn’t ask for any anything sweeter She was funny and she was tiny Rachanda was silly and goofy We used to call her Punky Brewster she looked exactly like Punky Brewster With mom having to be the sole provider of the family she had boyfriends and husbands but they were always very short-lived me and my sister had to rely on each other Santiam Junction is a small and remote compound made up of the workers who live there and their families The nearest towns are Sisters to the east and Sweet Home where Byron and Rachanda attended school, to the west it’s an isolated spot but after struggling for years to make
ends meet as a single mom and enduring a string of bad relationships, Linda was
willing to accept that isolation in exchange for the stability and security
living with Ackroyd seemed to provide We grew up very poor From the outside looking in it looked like John had a lot of money he was able to go out and go have pizza which was stuff we weren’t really you know when you’re poor you can’t really
do a lot of that stuff so Yeah, I remember meeting John All I had in my life was men cheating on me stealing
from me and I didn’t have anything to steal and John wasn’t that type and I thought
I would be more safe and secure It seemed like that he was very stable, I mean he had a job working for the state highway department you know he was a
military guy and he was very good at making relationships very quick ’85 is when me and John got married and I felt good that I could
dress my kids not in rags and I wanted my kids to graduate you know where I could be happy have things more things than what I did when I was young and it
just backfired you know While living with John might have
provided stability for Linda it was a nightmare for her kids Ackroyd was often described by those who
knew him as unflappable and calm but behind closed doors he was violent and
volatile She used to have her bangs a certain way
same way all the time she didn’t come in with her hair done one morning
and I’m like hey what’s wrong with you you know why didn’t you do your hair and he had ripped a patch of her hair out she showed up one day to school she had a black eye and she had a really big black eye and it had a little cut underneath it
right here I asked her, I’m like Rachanda what happened and she said my stepdad did
this Byron always had black eyes or fat lips they were very visibly
obviously abused children Very good, I mean, he, uh, um… we went fishing I mean, I remember him spanking her over one of those old school wind-up alarm clocks and it got broke
that beating she got was over, over the top it was scary my mom was yelling
at John to stop there would be times and this was way before she came up missing there would be times that his eyes would change color and he says I want to kill someone and I would holler at him and say John you’re scaring me it was very fearful environment when John snapped it was, it was scary She never wanted school to end she’d always say oh man there’s only two more hours of school oh man there’s only
an hour left of school it wasn’t a healthy environment, we definitely knew at that age that not every child went through what we did our plan was I mean
from a very young age our goal was just to get to 18 or to old
enough just to get out In her mind she was gonna get away from him one day and she would have By the end of the school year in 1990 Rachanda and Byron had convinced Linda to let them spend part of the summer with their biological father The kids traveled to Medford to meet up with Stephen Pickle a man they barely knew I think it’s part of every child no matter
how good or bad your parents are that you want to know where you come from you want to know what type of person they are and we wanted to have the chance to get
to know who our dad was and form our own opinion It didn’t take long after their arrival for things to get tense Stephen Pickle confronted the kids about
family rumors that Rachanda had been sexually abused by both an extended family member and a man who Linda had been with before Ackroyd my dad had us both sit down on the couch I remember sitting there and me and her looking at each
other and it’s just like huh my gosh we’re gonna have this conversation and my dad was livid, um he was gonna, talked about getting an
attorney and stuff I mean it was underneath her watch and she didn’t do anything about it Later, Stephen Pickle reacted badly to Rachanda and Byron’s attempt to join a game of hide and seek with neighborhood kids convinced it was an excuse for the young
boys and girls to have sex Devastated, Rachanda demanded to go home to her
mother My uncle and my aunt were getting ready to come towards sweet home for a family reunion so we went up to my Uncle Bob’s place dropped my sister off and I
knew I’d see it within a couple weeks and I mean it’s still ingrained in my
head seeing her in the back of my uncle’s Chevy Blazer Rachanda’s ride dropped her off in
Sweet Home She immediately began looking for a way that she wouldn’t have to return to Santiam Junction alone she came to me and asked me if I would go to the junction with her and spend the night I said I can’t Rachanda was adamant about not going up there by herself and I asked her why she wouldn’t tell me because I don’t Will you just please go with me and I said I
can’t I would I would love to but I can’t Rachanda’s classmates Mandy and
Michelle had been molested in their own home for years well before that summer,
the sisters had begun to notice familiar signs in Rachanda in addition to her
symptoms of physical abuse she had become depressed, was tired all the time
and had stopped caring as much about her appearance their suspicions seemed confirmed when Rachanda told Michelle she’d sought help from their school’s counselor we were in the library, it was a book fair I just looked up and she was just she was crying and she said I’ll be back and she got up and left came back to the library, I don’t know, about 20 minutes later and she said you know what you told me that happened to you and I’m like, yeah that’s happened to me too During that time, you know, she got really depressed she didn’t want to go home she kept asking can I spend the night? Can I spend the night? Can I spend the night? Back then my parents we didn’t, we weren’t allowed to hardly
spend the night with anybody we pretty much had to beg so they let her spend the night that was a Friday night Saturday she stayed and then that Sunday
her mom comes to get her and Rachanda hid in my closet screaming and throwing fits didn’t want to leave throwing clothes over her, putting shoes, throwing
shoes, throwing stuff at her mom you don’t act like that if you just, you know,
gonna be sent to your room you know you you don’t you do not act like that and she was
literally terrified don’t make me go I, don’t want to go, please don’t make me go, and I think her mom’s like okay, okay you can stay with Jennifer, but I don’t think she got to A couple weeks after that, that’s when we snuck her we had our older friends write a note and forged my mom’s name we took that note, took it to the school Rachanda walked home with us We told her we’d hide her for as long as we could we snuck her through her window and she stayed the night with us What can we do? We were you know we
were little kids too, we tried it’s pretty bad when kids have to go that to that level to do that I have never felt like anybody,
any adult who was put into the place of authority to help her ever helped her I think that, uh, she did try to protect herself and nobody listened Rachanda continued trying to spend nights away from home whenever possible with any friends or relatives who could take her in while she mostly kept the details of
what she was going through to herself it was clear that it was getting worse She started cutting herself even in
class she would just take a tack and just cut herself I’d ask her, you know, is
she all right and she’s just like, I don’t want to be home What’s going on? And she, she
wouldn’t, you know, say what the exact reason was Now getting older, I have my
suspicions what those reasons were when you’re constantly in a state of fear all
the time actually analyzing what’s going is – you can’t because you’re just in a state of
fear, you’re on eggshells you know, just want to have a normal day just a normal day, is all you want I remember her telling me and Mandy a
couple things one time I was doing dishes and he called me over on the couch he just started tickling me and it got more aggressive to where he was
trying to put his body on top of her and Rachanda had kicked enough somehow and
got away after that incident is when the other stuff started happening when he was coming into her room She never said if anything had happened but I’m pretty sure it did We never felt like she had to because we were kind of going to the same thing at home But it’s not okay for him to go into her room at night it was never okay, and I always felt like he was raping her Not if I’m aware of I don’t ever recall her being … No My read of it now is that there was something going on at home with
between John and Rachanda because when Rachanda did confide to mom what my
dad said you know, how he’s gonna get charges filed and stuff I know my mom told John and it was the very next day that she was gone When Rachanda arrived back at Santiam
Junction it hadn’t been long since she had confirmed to her biological father that she’d been sexually abused After that conversation her father had called Linda with threats to involve the authorities and Linda had told John Rachanda tried and failed to ensure that she wouldn’t be home alone without Byron Then Rachanda disappeared You know she was home when mom and dad left on the 10th she held back because she she she
asked me, mom do you have to go to work so there was something going up but I
just didn’t see it then John did not work all day he ended up coming home early according to him he asked her if she wanted to go for a ride with him she said no Rachanda did everything she could to get away from this man she was not gonna go and spend any alone time with him there was just no way his story was that he just went out on a drive to take pictures of deer He’s never took
pictures of deer that was so far fetched he had driven all the way around there
and he has his camera with him and he comes out on the road and makes sure that the other highway department workers see him see he has a camera and he makes a point of I’m gonna establish myself an alibi I was here at this particular
time according to him when he returned she wasn’t home and that was about noon
or 1:00 ish in the afternoon When he picked me up he was talking about Rachanda wasn’t there after we got home got dinner and all this stuff I think it was around 10 to 5:00 I said something’s not right John and I said
she should have been home where is she? you … and then he’d come out and tell me, well
I don’t know, I said well obvious you should know you were here with her I mean there for the longest time when
it was freshly I just said why did – I just go (grunts) why didn’t you go home, why didn’t you go home, you could have you you coulda probably walked in he wouldn’t
expect you there or whoever it may be and then I’ve always said well if I
would have been there it would have happened on a different day I remember that day, I remember mom callin saying have I heard from Rachanda no, why? Well she’s not home and then you know automatically well need to go down check with you know the Briggs boys and stuff see she’s down there we already
did that, we already did that, that I’m like you guys need to call the cops well John says we can’t call the cops until she’s gone for 24 hours and stuff I’m like I don’t know what to tell you then, I she’s up there she’s up there And then when mom called the next day saying Rachanda hadn’t made it home I told my dad we we need to go up there he’s like no we’re gonna play it
out I told him I’m like you either taking me home and stuff or I’m going to the truck stop and I’m gonna find a trucker and I’m gonna hitch ride back home and of course that set my dad he started yelling at me and thats when I started to break down crying, I told him something’s wrong something’s not right and the next day we loaded up
his vehicle and we drove up there 100 searchers from six different county
law enforcement agencies including Lane County spent their day poking through
the wilderness near the Hoodoo ski area in search of thirteen-year-old Rachanda
Lea Pickle In the initial days air searches of the mostly barren lava lands resulted in nothing now ground crews are concentrating on the heavy underbrush that lines the roadways well we had all the workers go out and look I’m telling John, well you should you know this area so them them, you know Well, sorta yes, sorta no I guess the thing that was strange about it we had sex and when I think back why would you have sex I mean there’s a kid missing here his wife was
kind of in denial the most chilling thing of that interview with her was when she said that John had no interest in sex at all
except for the day that Rachanda disappeared and then he was all over her it was a very telling sign that something got him very excited Ackroyd’s apparent sexual association
with his stepdaughter’s disappearance didn’t end there less than two weeks later searchers found a pair of pants initially thought to be Rachanda’s an investigator noticed the highway worker appeared to get an erection when showed the clothing and that a wet spot developed on the front of his pants For weeks, officials and volunteers continued searching the dense forests and lava fields that surround Santiam Junction That was probably one of the most, for
this sheriff’s office, one of the most labor-intensive searches that had occurred You have a young girl that’s missing in the Santiam forest or the Willamette forest and you know that touches a lot of people’s hearts and so
forth so you know there was a lot of man-hours that went into looking for her Meanwhile Jefferson County DA Bill Hanlon who had inherited the cold Kaye Turner case when he took office convened a task force that would have a single purpose putting John Ackroyd behind bars We had a really strong team I mean it was the case that needed to get solved Hanlon’s feeling from the very beginning
was we have a responsibility to get this guy off the street this has gone on way too long because he was a predator and he clearly was As hope of finding Rachanda alive dimmed the ongoing searches took on new meaning as members of the task force invited Ackroyd to join them hoping he might inadvertently
reveal information about her location John was just happy to be around with
all these people like one of the good old boys to be involved in the investigation I think he liked the idea being involved That’s fairly common with
people like that they like to be close to the action and they like to find out
what you know we were all walking through the woods and even though we knew it was an exercise in futility but the whole thing was to see if John’s gonna volunteer any information that may help us in the case one of the things he
talked about was possibly maybe a log or something might been placed over top of
her body and to me that was really weird I mean when you think of a loved one disappearing these are not the kind of scenarios you come up with unless you’ve been there done that they did quite a quite a bit more searching different areas where he had said he driven of course it was all dependent on, relying on what he had told him he probably didn’t tell him where he really went they just never found her No trace of Rachanda was ever found unanswered questions about what really happened who was to blame and how things might have turned out differently trouble those affected to this day You know that’s probably what’s haunted
me in my whole entire life is looking back going what didn’t I, what did I fail to
mention I remember, you know, conversation of me and my mom yelling at her and stuff I’m like the only thing that I could have done to save my sister’s life is if I would’ve stepped out and been like good I’m going to a, I’ll be willing to go to a foster home just to get us out of the abusive environment and of course my mom
was like there was no abuse [sarcastic laugh] okay you know that’s the that was the only –
looking back now if I would have done that it probably would have saved her life I don’t know I mean I really don’t want to think that way but then there’s another part of me that wants to think that way looking back I think how in the world was
he capable of doing it not really seeing Not really seeing signs I think a lot on that this guy was a sick individual, he was a master manipulator you know I think for anybody that’s looking for answers that wants to put blame on somebody yeah there’s a little bit that I do put on my mom but to say that it’s all her
fault no no it’s John Ackroyd’s fault that
this happened you know she could just bebop around and just be happy and you
know until he took it away from her until he took it all away from her what an evil
man we could have grew up together you know
you know she she’d be a mother right now [ deep breath ] excuse me [kids can be heard playing in the background] I get to hear this she doesn’t it just
makes me so angry that young lady 13 years old I’m sure
she would have done something really awesome my granddaughter who’s 13 she has her whole future planned out can you imagine that? makes me wonder about that young lady
that lost her life they should have listened to me Despite its best efforts, the task force’s attempts to extract information from Ackroyd were going nowhere his knack for creating reasonable doubt even while implicating himself was taking them in circles they knew that ultimately it would be nearly impossible to prosecute him if they couldn’t find Rachanda’s body they also know that in the vast wilderness surrounding Santiam Junction that might never happen he probably learned a lot from the Kaye Jean Turner case he probably learned a lot about not disclosing where a body is we knew all along what we were dealing with this wasn’t a maybe this is our guy we knew that he was the guy it was very clear from the beginning but at the time it wasn’t popular to prosecute without a body so they shifted the attention to
the Kaye Turner case it looked like that was our best prospect to get him
off the street before he killed somebody else and that was our primary goal was
to keep from having more victims which I feel we failed because those two young girls out of Newport I believe I’m quite convinced died at
his hands Rachanda and Kaye Turner weren’t the only people that John had been around that disappeared He worked for ODOT, they were working on highway 20 a lot back then Too many people disappear in that area, it’s just too much of a coincidence We know that John Ackroyd was working in Newport when those girls disappeared He comes in way late at night, he’s got blood all over his hands It was a ripe pickening for someone who was a predator to be in an area where there’s a bunch of sheep In 1992, investigators were closing in on
John Ackroyd, working the cases of both Kaye Turner, who had vanished while
running in 1978, and Rachanda Pickle, Ackroyd’s 13-year-old stepdaughter who
had disappeared in 1990 Ackroyd was the last person known to have seen either one of them alive. But those weren’t the only killings along Highway 20 that cast
suspicion on Ackroyd From the late ’70s to the early ’90s, highway 20 between Bend and Newport was John Ackroyd’s
domain. He roamed the twisting blacktop from behind the wheel of state highway
rigs and his own truck, usually alone, a phantom, caught if at all, as a fleeting
blur in the peripheral vision of passing motorists Ackroyd can account for some of his time — he repaired equipment, helped stranded drivers, and cleared wrecks. He
hunted, fished, and visited friends. But he spent long stretches of time alone, and what he was doing then remains the subject of much speculation I was convinced early on that we were dealing with a serial killer, and if we really
knew the truth, I believe he’s probably killed more people in Oregon than
probably anybody else I’m totally convinced John is responsible for a lot more. In my career I’ve dealt with serial killers before, and I’ve talked to them,
I’ve interviewed them and I feel John fits in that category
You wonder, was, was, was Ackroyd a serial killer? Well I mean he was, by
definition, a serial killer, he killed two people separated by time and
space twelve years between Kaye and Rachanda, what happened in between? Who knows? There could have been you know somebody before me and we just don’t know it, and how many do we don’t know after that,
that went missing? These are just the ones they know about In 2012, two investigators with the
Lincoln County DA’s office were working on a cold case from 20 years before. Two
young women, Melissa Sanders and Sheila Swanson, had disappeared in the spring of
1992 from a campground near Newport. Their bodies had been found several
months later in the woods off highway 20 near Eddyville. No arrests had ever been
made. The investigators received a tip from a defense attorney in Bend. He
suggested they take a look at someone whose name had come up at the time of
the killings, but who had never been questioned John Arthur Ackroyd Melissa lived in Sweet Home, Sheila lived in Lebanon, they were friends, they had planned to go to a…
to go camping with Melissa’s family They drove over middle of the day,
got to the beach in the afternoon, and had supper that night, everybody went to
sleep, and the next morning the parents and grandparents woke up and the girls
were gone We didn’t hear anything for like a week, wondering what happened and stuff like that, why isn’t she back Melissa’s mom and dad came over said
they didn’t bring my sister back because they were supposedly supposed to have been hitchhiking back, talked to the Lebanon police department about it and they
pretty much blew it off like, “Yeah, that’s just Sheila, she’s just out running,
running doing what she wants to do,” type of deal The parents reported them
missing after they’d been gone for about a week to ten days, not much came up
until October of ’92 when some hunters were hunting off highway 20 and came
across the bodies of two deceased people and they were later identified as
Melissa and Sheila Finding human remains along Highway 20
was nothing new over the years. In 1976, a skull belonging to an unidentified woman
was found near Swamp Mountain. In 1978, the skull of another unidentified woman
was found near Snow Creek. Also in 1978, the body of Elizabeth Mussler, a young
woman who had disappeared from Lebanon, was found in a shallow grave near Green
Peter Reservoir. A year before that, personal effects belonging to two
missing teenagers, Rodney Grissom and Karen Lee, had been found off a logging
road near Highway 20, about a half-hour east of Sweet Home. Nothing beyond
circumstance ever linked Ackroyd to any of these deaths, but circumstance is
enough for Karen’s mother Violet, who is convinced he was her daughter’s killer The last I heard was she’d called her
friend in Wisconsin and she said to her, “Our ride’s here, I have to go.” Then the
next thing I know, it’s Christmas and they find her stuff. This is where they found the, the first set of clothes we brought up cadaver dogs and we worked this area for a long time just hoping we would find some human remains, and we never did
you know when they found her stuff it was like it was her purse it was her makeup, it was
everything she wouldn’t have gone on without And one shoe, where’s she gonna
go with one shoe? she couldn’t have gotten out of there with one shoe
You do have this cluster of, of cases in the area, a detective wouldn’t be doing their job if
they didn’t look into Ackroyd’s involvement in those cases, because it
just made sense It was just such a feeling that I had, that this guy had something to do with it. He lived near there, he worked in those areas so he knew back roads, he knew, you know he worked for
the highway department I feel in here that that’s what happened to her Karen’s jeans appeared to have been cut,
echoing Marlene Gabrielsen’s rape, which occurred around the same time. It’s
impossible to know if the same clue would have turned up in Ackroyd’s
stepdaughter’s killing, since no trace of Rachanda was ever found. But the same
year that Sheila and Melissa went missing, Rachanda’s cousin Jennifer
thought Ackroyd might have taken her to the spot where he stashed her body John came up every weekend I asked him if I could get a ride from him to my
friend’s house, and he said, “Yeah” We were going on highway 20 toward Sweet Home, and we passed the junction Usually if he needs anything he stops there at the junction where he lives and picks up whatever he needs. He passed it, and he
pulled off alongside the road and he turns with me and he looks at me and he
says, “You know, you could kill somebody and hide a body here and nobody would
ever find it,” and something inside me told me not to get out of the truck. And
so he’s all “I gotta pee, do you, do you need to go?” I was like, “No, I’m good.” He got out
of the truck and he was gone for about 15 minutes, 10 to 15 minutes, and I thought “That’s an awful long time to go pee” Oh god, I think he was trying to make sure that he disposed of the body, I think that he wanted to make sure nobody found it at
that point, and it freaked me out because I was 16 years old you know? Why would an adult tell us 16 year old that, you know?
And that was like two years after my cousin came up missing To some of his co-workers at Santiam
Junction, it seemed obvious that Ackroyd was responsible for his stepdaughter’s
disappearance. With the continuing investigation becoming a distraction, and
some workers not feeling safe around him, the highway department eventually transferred Ackroyd to a shop in Sweet Home, where his reputation preceded him My first time that I went to Santiam Junction was somewhere around 1979,
winter of ’79 or ’80, this guy came out from behind a truck and said, “Hey, I’m
John,” reached out, and when he touched my hand I literally, I literally froze up and
thought to myself, “Oh my god I just met the devil” After Rachanda disappeared and there’d been a number of investigations, the district manager came
to me and said, “We’re going to reassign John Ackroyd to your shop,” and I said,
“No, I don’t need him at my shop,” and they said, “You don’t understand, you don’t have
a choice, and he’s not going to be working out of your shop, he’s just gonna
be parking his truck there morning and night, and he’s gonna be driving
wherever every day.” At least at Santiam Junction he had oversight. He did not
have oversight once they moved him to District 4. He comes here and gets in a
truck and leaves, none of us really know where he is or where he’s going. Wow, what
are you guys thinking? And I think, I’m sure there’s more than in hindsight that
realized they probably made a large error By the time Ackroyd was transferred from
Santiam Junction, he and Linda had split up He moved in with his mother in Sweet
Home, near the shop where he was now based He soon began spending evenings in nearby Lebanon at a Shari’s restaurant, a popular 24-hour gathering spot for
locals. The young people from Sweet Home,
the teenagers from Sweet Home and Lebanon, would hang out at the Shari’s Melissa and Sheila started hanging out with that group two to three months before We start talking to this one couple who, who actually remembered things very, very well given the amount of time that went by.
They started talking about this guy John that worked for ODOT, that also kind of
hung around on the fringes of this, this group, and that he was really, really
interested in Melissa and Sheila, that whenever they would arrive he would make
a beeline for them and interact with them He was here a lot, he used to give a
bunch of the girls rides. “The perv,” that’s what we called him, short for “pervert,”
that was his CB handle, and then we called him “the perv” because it just fit
him better By all accounts Sheila and Melissa were there most nights, and Ackroyd was there most nights The girls start talking about taking this vacation to the coast and all of a sudden the week before they, they’re gonna go John
Aykroyd is telling everybody that he’s got a house in Newport, and he’s having a
party the same weekend that these girls are gonna be camping with their parents.
Nobody else showed an interest in it, but the girls did say that they were gonna,
they were gonna be at the beach, and that they were gonna go. I think it was purely
a means to meet up with the girls that weekend That plan got foiled because the
girls didn’t end up going over on Saturday, they ended up going over on
Sunday This must have been from… this says she was 15 “Happy Mother’s Day, I couldn’t find a card
to say what I really wanted to say, and that’s “I love you,” hope you have a nice
mom’s day 1977. That was just before she…
Yeah, yeah. Just such a massive coincidence of location and time and… I
just always felt that he’d done it I do feel that he did it. I don’t know why. Why, why? That would be what I’d wanna know, why I guess he didn’t need a reason, I don’t
know We worked with the FBI, who did a
background on him. They said he’s one of these opportunity abductors, and he will
kill as often as he gets an opportunity to do so We had that written up on the
board, “opportunistic” And like with Rachanda, Rachanda and her brother go off to spend the summer with their dad, but Rachanda comes back alone So, for the first time, her brother’s no longer in the picture. Within two days of Rachanda coming back, John Ackroyd makes up an excuse to be home
alone with her during the day And then with Sheila and Melissa, he’s grooming them, he, he is stalking them, and he’s planning on where he can be
alone with them The opportunity’s there, and he takes it So how many are really out
there? We really don’t know At Beverly Beach on their camping trip,
Melissa and Sheila decided they wanted to head back home. Late at night, they
called friends from a payphone, asking for a ride When no one could come get
them, they said they’d hitchhike back instead It was the last time anyone ever
heard from them Would she hitchhike? Yeah, she’d hitchhike She didn’t, really didn’t have much of an issue about hitchhiking, but for her to be hitchhiking at night,
and being picked up? No that’s, that wasn’t her, She was scared of the dark
completely Sheila Swanson was terrified of the dark What we feel happened is
that they left at the crack of dawn the next day, and started hitchhiking towards
Sweet Home. Ackroyd would have left the Sweet Home
ODOT yard about eight o’clock in the morning, so he would be traveling on to
Corvallis and then coming on in to Newport. At some point someone saw an
ODOT truck picking up two girls at the junction of highway 20 and the Toledo
East Junction. What we do surmise is that at some point he has the girls in the
ODOT truck and he’s traveling east towards
Sweet Home. ODOT is doing a lot of work on highway 20, and they have flaggers
both on highway 20 and up Nashville Road, they would notice if he had two girls in
the truck with him. Where the girls was found, off Hayes Creek Road, is the last
place that you can pull off highway 20 before you would meet where they were
working on the road. So we surmise that he pulled off to wait for the flaggers
to be gone. It’s probably where the girls were murdered, was in that isolated area
off Hayes Creek Road, there’re no, there are no homes there for, for quite a way, not likely
that somebody’s gonna be coming by there In the weeks after their disappearance,
not many people outside their immediate families showed much concern for Sheila
and Melissa Police assembled no search parties; the
media provided little coverage In their hardscrabble world, the young women had few protectors, and even fewer opportunities, to rise above a culture
hardwired to look the other way when confronted with marginalized women A predator like Ackroyd knew that I interviewed a co-worker of Ackroyd’s, and
he was telling me how they’d go out, you know, looking for women and, you know,
doing catcalls at them and everything else, and I asked him a little bit about
whether he thought he could do something so evil. He wouldn’t answer that, but he
told me, he said, “So what if he did?” He said, “You know, women have caused all the wars in the world, women have caused all the problems in the world, what’s a few less women?” Well this isn’t even our suspect!
But he hung around with our suspect Once the girls were found, we
kind of just forgot about them and moved on. Now I think about it a lot more, like when people die, but then I would be
like, you know, “oh well.” And I know that sounds really bad, and it, and it was, now
that I think about, it that was pretty… and none of us went to the funeral,
none of us have ever talked to the family, it’s like they ceased to exist and
we just quit talking about them. Now I think, when I think about it I think I
might have been able to prevent it, but I was young and didn’t care
I know that sounds horrid he was… yeah Sorry Oh it’s okay, it’s, it’s just if that would
have been my girls, would I wanted somebody to step in, and probably? But I
didn’t, I was, I was a kid too Yeah and no one else is around I don’t
think. Since I was 16 years old I pretty much made my life completely
evolved around the disappearance of my sister, and who did it, and stuff like
that. I’ve went up to where she was found probably a hundred times. I’ve laid down
the same spot where she was found I held a big deal up on what happened to my sister because I always promised her, you know, “Nothing will ever happen to you, I
guarantee you that,” you know, it was a promise and that’s just something I can’t take back, y’know. Would I change that promise? No. It’d be the same promise it was back then as it is today.
it’s just one that was never completely fulfilled Ackroyd’s odd schedule and work
arrangement at the Sweet Home maintenance yard meant he rarely
interacted with his coworkers there But on one night when the shop would
normally have been empty, he surprised two workers who were there on a special
shift. At the time, the encounter struck the men as strange, but it would acquire
a more sinister meaning later on It was probably around 9:30, and I heard the
door open, you know, and I go, “Who in the world’s that?” you know. Ackroyd, he’d come in through the, and parked over next to our office, in the bay, he started to walk
over going through the area and we noticed he had blood all over his hands
and arms. And then I go, “What the heck happened to you?” and he goes, “Oh, I ran
into a deer, I just had to gut him out” Most the time if you hit a deer you just
throw it off the road into the ditch and go on Why would you gut a deer in the
middle of the night? That didn’t make sense
Did not make sense No. That don’t sound like something
Ackroyd would do They mentioned it to me the next time I saw them,
which I think was the next day. Just brought it up, “Wow,” y’know “Ackroyd came in last night, and he, he was all bloody, and we’re kind of going, “Are you OK?” And he said, “Oh, I, y’know, butchered a deer for somebody.” That was kind of that, nothing of it. Somewhere down the
line, they started talking about these two girls being missing from Newport And that’s kind of when we put two and two together, like, wait a minute. Those girls
disappeared about that time when we he came in with all that blood on his hands. Both Marvin and Rick came to me and they were just totally freaked out. “What if he
murdered those girls and that wasn’t really deer blood?” He had been in Newport, he had been working over there, and then he’s all bloody It’ll probably never
leave my mind just that part of it
But nobody ever asked us Ackroyd’s name had come up when Sheila
and Melissa disappeared. One officer had even sketched out his connections to the
girls through who they each knew and where they all lived. But he was being
more thoroughly investigated for other crimes. The Kaye Turner task force was
closing in, and Ackroyd knew it In this interview with Ackroyd, he denies
murdering Turner, saying only he visited a friend at Camp Sherman the morning
Turner disappeared Well, they’re talking to the guy that admits that he killed her What’s his name? Uh, Roger Roger…. I think Beck Friend of yours? Not really, he’s a friend of friends of mine, but I didn’t have nothing to do with it. They got a guy that’s admitting that he killed her,
bragging about it. In fact there’s a grand jury went on, Monday and Tuesday, to see if they have enough evidence to get him But if somebody admits that they
killed somebody, that should be enough evidence right there At time he killed Sheila and Melissa, he knew that that was going to come, soon. They were actively,
actively working both Kaye Turner and Rachanda at that time. He was moving
property out of a storage unit around that time, so yeah, he, he knew that he was
on short time Yeah When John Ackroyd was a young man his
family placed an ad in the local newspaper for some Labrador puppies they
had for sale In a police interview years later an acquaintance who showed up to look at them described a horrifying scene he said he walked in to find puppy
body parts scattered across the yard Ackroyd had hacked the entire litter to
death with a machete saying “These are my dogs, and nobody’s going to get them” The only thing between more innocent people being murdered and him running free, was us Who knows what he would have gotten away with how many other people would
have died at his hands That’s where I had issues about you know the not knowing He went to the grave of a lot of secrets Where’s the justice in all this?
We don’t get to know where she’s at How is this right? Was he an evil guy? Hell yeah he was Did he deserved to die in prison? Yeah he did and hopefully he’s enjoying this time in hell By June of 1992 the task force
investigating John Ackroyd had pivoted from the case of Ackroyd’s missing
stepdaughter 13 year old Rachanda Pickle to the 1978 murder of Kaye Turner
for which he had long been the prime suspect Two young women who were recent
acquaintances of Ackroyd’s Melissa Sanders and Sheila Swanson had
also recently disappeared The walls were closing in on Ackroyd Well we’re really just getting started,
this is a first step got a lot of work ahead of us it’s just an accumulation
and at this point of a lot of hard detective work that’s been done by a lot
of different agencies to get it to this point Ackroyd and another man Roger Beck are charged with kidnapping raping and killing Kaye Turner That June 12th
John Ackroyd was finally arrested along with his friend Roger Dale Beck Beck had been with Ackroyd the day Kaye
Turner disappeared but was largely ignored in the original investigation More than a decade had passed since Kaye’s killing and there wasn’t much new physical evidence to uncover But in Beck the task force saw a potential suspect They took a fresh look at him and found a goldmine of new information Beck, initially, he was an alibi witness He was a friend of John’s they were guys that
spent a lot of time together We didn’t think he was really one of the main
players you know we thought Ackroyd killed her maybe on the way down, went to Beck’s house and they went out and established this alibi thing Investigators interviewed Beck’s family members and began hearing variations of
the same story That Beck had spoken many times over the years about taking part in Kaye’s murder sometimes even bragging about it They interviewed his sister She had picked up Beck once or twice when he got drunk in a bar and couldn’t drive home and picked him up and he was crying, made some statements about how they killed this girl There was a guy there, I don’t know if it was Pam’s brother or brother-in-law something He had some statements that Beck made They were leaving, he said, we got to go up on the mountain see John get our stories straight Pam was Beck’s ex-wife Pam Ramirez She had originally provided an alibi for both Beck and Ackroyd for the morning Kaye was killed but had divorced him and moved to California in the years since It became obvious we needed to interview
Beck’s wife, ex-wife so we planned a meeting to California that’s when it really
opened up the famous quote was like, I lied like hell When Beck and him returned the day that she disappeared they had blood all over them He had her burn his clothes and his brand-new boots They both had blood on them and they didn’t have a
deer like they were supposed to have It became very clear that Beck was a
part of it that day and that she actually knew that he was a part of it
and covered it up but she was very afraid of him and for good reason With no way to know exactly what had
happened the morning of Kaye’s murder investigators came up with a novel idea
they decided to recreate and videotape different scenarios based on the little
information they did have they asked deputies and detectives to play Kaye, Ackroyd and Beck found a truck like the one Ackroyd drove in 1978 and met at Camp Sherman in the winter of 1992 They couldn’t use the videos as evidence but the exercise helped investigators test theories on how Kaye’s abduction might have happened
and humanized a woman none of them had ever known I was basically the same physical height and build and looked a lot like what Kaye looked like at the time she was killed
they just had me jogging down the road filming and they would have Ackroyd’s
vehicle approach me only difference is I knew what was coming and she didn’t it was just basically two days of repeating a scenario over and over until we got it right or adding a new little twist to it where they had gained control over her a different way Will MacAnulty was lead detective on this case
and he’s a bear of a man with a heart of a teddy bear he said to me let’s film
this one more time and this time I want Kaye to win and in the last scenario I was
able to take the gun away and I shot him it was empowering to be able to pull it
away from him and and put him down I wish Kaye woulda had the chance to do that Ackroyd’s trial began in August of 1993 Prosecutors had plenty of circumstantial evidence but physical evidence was scarce they had little more than what was found in 1979 a few bones, what was left of Kaye’s clothes and her Timex watch She wound her watch and timed every single run that she ever ran for years the watch wouldn’t have just run down
when she was running Kaye’s watch offered a chance to prove the date and time she was killed establishing that she had died the same
morning she disappeared when Ackroyd admitted to stopping and talking to her
would further tie him to the scene of the crime Timex, you know, they take a
lickin’ and keep keep on tickin’ I mean that was a perfect example of that
The Timex guy, he was the designer of this thing he was R&D on this watch
they had a stem that pulled out you know you could and you wound it and he
testified basically that the only two only three ways that the watch could
have stopped where it ran down and we pretty much eliminated that or the stem gets pulled out, so you can pull it out and you can wind it up without changing
the time or it can it can if it has a really substantial blow that exceeds the
shock limits of the watch it will stop so basically I mean our pitch was yeah
either by grabbing her or pulling off her shirt that stem got pulled out somehow so we were actually able to prove that the watch would still run and it was on a.m. so it it was exactly the time she would have been there and it had the 24 on it as well so it was the right date With the time of her death
established by the watch investigators sought to determine the cause of Kaye’s
death through what little they had of her remains but not much had ever actually
been found much of what Ackroyd claimed to have
discovered in 1979 turned out to be animal bones The only two bones that
were identified as human were the only two bones that could identify her
the mandible and the skull which were separate those are the only two that
were found Prosecutors took what they did have as well as what was left of Kaye’s clothes to a US Fish and Wildlife lab in Southern Oregon for analysis We never really had a definitive idea how Kaye had died there were no bullet casings found, there were no bullet fragments recovered or anything like this Fish and wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife had just built that really sophisticated lab in Ashland and it just opened and they were happy to get something to work on with their techniques they could show that this fabric was cut rather than torn that her panties and shorts had been
cut off of her rather than just getting ripped up by a coyote or something.
The evidence of cut clothing bore a striking similarity to both Marlene Gabrielsen’s
rape and Karen Lee’s disappearance But the analysis revealed even more There were knife stabs through her shirt and they found some lead fragments on
her shirt where she’d been shot so now we have an idea how Kaye was killed all the sudden it’s like the lightbulb went on Both Ackroyd and Beck had made some
statements I think at least Beck had about being stabbed and shot so that
corroborated those statements that he had made it was an enlightening
experience when all of a sudden we go wait a minute we’ve been looking at
these things as tears all this time but in reality they’re not
these are wounds and that was a big piece of the puzzle was always missing Assistant Attorney General Doug Dawson
used graphic discussion about Turner’s fatal wounds to try and prove that the
only way Ackroyd could know how she died as he said he did in previous police
interviews was because Ackroyd was indeed the killer Ackroyd’s defense hinged on the idea
that he was simple-minded and had become confused by police during his various interactions with them His lawyer offered a theory that it
wasn’t Kaye Turner but a different runner he had encountered that morning and that he had conflated the two as a result of the extensive news coverage that had followed Kaye’s disappearance There were two runners so there was some confusion but that was basically his thing was it was the wrong runner That’s when I was avidly running and
and I just got up whenever I got up and put my clothes on and go for my run and that afternoon I had to go to the store for something so I went to the store and that’s when we saw search and rescue people were
and so I remember asking what’s going on and they said oh you know somebody was out
running today and she hasn’t returned and I remember just thinking oh man you
know and then just went home For me to really really connected it
wasn’t until during the trial when I had to go and just say yes I was the other
person running because a lot of you know they’d either described her or me If Morris saw Kaye or Ackroyd on her run that Christmas Eve morning neither registered
with her as anything unusual and there’s no way of knowing if Ackroyd saw her
But a few months earlier in August Morris experienced a frightening encounter with a man on a different camp Sherman Road I was working as a waitress
at Black Butte Lodge for that summer and we’d often ride our bikes there was
several of us that lived in the Camp Sherman area So I was just riding back by myself and I was off the highway so I was on the road
to Camp Sherman and I was good enough at that time to bike ride without the
handlebars so and I remember I still had my waitress dress on I remember that and
there was a pickup truck car kind of just off the road and there was a person a guy you know kind of moving around and stuff and as I got closer he
went to the back of his pickup comes out of the back of the pickup with a gun and he and he points it at me, he’s following me and I was just about opposite
at that point and he was yelling something like stop or come here something I can’t
remember exactly and my mind just went I’m going for it so I just dropped down
on my handles and pedaled like crazy and then I weaved because I know it’s harder
to hit a moving target and I remember just listening for the you know
listening for the motor to start but he didn’t shoot didn’t follow and when I
got to the Camp Sherman homes I went all, I just went past and went to the store
to report that a guy pulled a gun on me It wasn’t until years later when she was called to testify at John Ackroyd’s trial that she would see the man again I just remember looking at him and just went that was the guy with the gun yeah that was him
That’s when it really hit me that could have been me, that could have been me There never was any physical evidence to
prove Ackroyd’s guilt but the jury heard the tapes of voluntary interviews he’d given to police after Rachanda’s disappearance which contained numerous lies and contradictions This not only contradicted his statements in earlier interviews but was simply impossible In reality Kaye’s remains had been scattered by scavengers and her skull wasn’t among what Ackroyd claimed to have found in 1979 Kaye’s skull wasn’t discovered until 1980
when a hunter stumbled across it about a half mile away To the jury when taken as a whole the taped interviews were almost as good as a confession The verdict is in
after just four hours of deliberations a jury tonight has reached its decision in
the trial of John Arthur Ackroyd the jury found Ackroyd guilty on all counts
two counts of aggravated murder and three counts of murder Ackroyd was convicted this evening of killing Kaye Jean Turner as Turner was jogging on
Christmas Eve in Camp Sherman almost 15 years ago You know I feel like justice
has been served but it’s not like the total weight’s off your back I mean maybe it’s just gonna be there I think it you know the
good guys won and kind of restored my faith in the system [clears throat] that it does work You know you you do what you can but it was a very important, maybe one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life is helping get him off the streets you just don’t know how many
lives might have been saved It saved women’s lives
if he had stayed out if he hand’t ever been convicted he and maybe Beck would’ve done more crimes and killed more women for sure you know he managed to get through that whole thing without ever getting caught that was the only time he’s ever been arrested or charged anything in his life and not because he was all that smart but he managed to do it How did Ackroyd manage to do it? He was an opportunistic killer who preyed on women who were vulnerable and exposed a runner on an empty road, a child who feared him, two teens adrift in the world There were no witnesses and no physical evidence but there had been an unmistakable warning sign Before he was ever suspected of being a killer Ackroyd had raped Marlene Gabrielsen in the woods outside of Sisters she went to
police and they dismissed her as a liar Ackroyd knew he’d gotten away with rape, he even laughed about it he used the cover of Highway 20 to stalk women who were alone and counted on society’s blind eye to marginalized people to avoid
prosecution for decades Killing the right kind of people in the right kind of place during the right kind of time was all it really took By 2010 Ackroyd had been in prison for
almost 20 years the potential for him to become eligible
for parole was on the horizon Kaye Turner’s murder was the only one Ackroyd had been tried for and Rachanda Pickle’s case was still technically open
Detective Mike Harmon began to pursue its resolution They used to say in cold
cases time was your friend because relationships change but at a certain
point time is no longer your friend If we don’t find her body we’re not going
to have any additional evidence so is this case prosecutable now? one of the things that that kind of influenced the prosecution was that, that John was eligible to put in for parole and one of the things we did not want is John Arthur Ackroyd to be released from prison Mike told me he’s like you know I don’t want to sound cold but I don’t want that son of a bitch out and if I got to use your sister as a tool to keep him in there I’m going to I don’t want this guy
out and I agreed with him yeah absolutely, this guy cannot get out the ultimate goal was especially for Byron, Rachanda’s brother, was to get Rachanda back I knew it was gonna be a long hard road because Mike was very open going that he’s not admitting to this he’s like you know I’m hoping with you being there through this process that you know maybe as a last living testament that he
has that you know where he could actually feel good about himself that
you know where is she The DA’s office had to decide whether to
bring Ackroyd to trial after all this time or negotiate a plea deal While the 2010 investigation had turned up new information like the fact that Rachanda had disclosed her sexual abuse by Ackroyd to friends there was still no smoking gun officials consulted with Byron and tried
to involve his mother Linda but she declined to make the trip from California
Byron had to make the decision alone I asked him, I’m like, what’s the new evidence because I was convinced there had to been a new evidence because we went to a grand jury indictment, and it passed, we were moving forward wow there’s got to be a smoking gun and when they revealed to me that there was no smoking gun that’s when I called for a break and my wife and I was out there in the hall
I lost it I’m like gosh dang I wish my dad or my mom was here this is a big decision do we take the deal or do we push it and go to trial and have the chance of losing
it all I’m like I’m gonna take the deal I’m not gonna I’m not gonna gamble this
guy getting away with it John Ackroyd sitting there he’s looking forward we did not make any eye contact When I opened the door he made a quick brief and when he seen it was me I’m the only one
there connected to this no support pissed off
but at the same time It felt good at the same time knowing that I actually seen, seen this through for Rachanda giving her a voice in all of it The no contest plea meant that
Ackroyd wasn’t admitting guilt but also wasn’t denying it it guaranteed he would die behind bars The location of Rachanda’s body remained a mystery and the plea was immediately sealed the details remain secret until early 2017
when The Oregonian asked a judge to unseal them I was under a gag order that I couldn’t go to the media Where’s the justice in all this? That, you know, we don’t get to know where she’s at I can’t tell anybody about what’s going on.
How is this right? it definitely felt being victimized again it was like this
this fucking prick has more of a right than what we do The Kaye Turner and Rachanda Pickle
cases had now been resolved and Melissa Sanders and Sheila Swanson’s murders were eventually closed as well investigators Linda Snow and Ron Benson
had uncovered new information like the witness accounts of Ackroyd coming to the Sweet Home shop with bloody hands They also confirmed that some items
found near the teens’ remains like a used rivet and a beaded car seat cover were commonly used by highway workers on the job The investigators and the Lincoln County DA were satisfied that they had enough to prosecute Ackroyd but taking the case to grand jury didn’t seem worth the expense Ackroyd was already locked
up for good I’ve talked to the DA
and she believes that this is something we could have put in front of a grand jury if need be The costs of prosecuting our
case would have been huge with no additional outcome So he was going to
die in prison one way or the other So just being able to say that we could if
we needed to That was our end goal was to get it to
that point In December of 2016 John Ackroyd died in prison with him die the answers to many questions leaving the unknowns to haunt his
victims, their survivors and investigators alike When you first hear
the gu’ys dead you’re thinking okay a monster’s gone but then you kind of have
that sad emotional moment where you know for Byron she’s she’s not around and he doesn’t have that closure he has that closure to John’s dead but he
doesn’t have that closure to where his sister is at least I got something
the families of these other victims no closure my heart goes out to ’em I had asked if, can I, any way that I can go and talk to this man? and they said no Do you remember her? and I just wanted to look him in the eye and ask him if he did it did it did he remember it did he you
know then when I found out that he died I go that’s a rotten thing to do, I was
just so figured I would be, maybe at the end of this, that’s what I wanted was to have something but I’m not now so Sheila Swanson’s brother Bart
occasionally takes Highway 20 to visit the spot off Hayes Creek Road where his
sister’s body was found I go up there you know to… pretty much to Remind myself that I still haven’t let it go let her know that I haven’t let it go Byron keeps photos of his sister from
childhood and thinks of her often telling his own children that they had
an aunt Rachanda who they’ll never know Yeah, I actually got a tattoo of it. I do Last summer It’s just, didn’t have any way to put it to rest and it was very big part of my life and I just wanted to be able to have a celebration and stuff you know it’s not
a tattoo of hurt and shame but it is of love, you know just tryomg to get some closure somehow Mark Foster has returned to volunteer
police duty after interviews for this story rekindled a desire to protect his
small rural community You know these things, you can’t go through these kind of things without it having some impact on you too so I just spent a lot of time out on this road patrolling and and just
keeping an eye on the community so maybe this year I can just be out there and, and if possible prevent such a thing from ever occurring again Bill Hanlon stayed in touch with Kaye Turner’s mother after the trial and knows how much it meant to her that her daughter’s killer was finally brought to justice something that never would have happened
without his perseverance To this day he keeps Kaye in his thoughts
every Christmas Eve I do a run every Christmas Eve morning, Kaye Turner yeah I ultimately told wrote her mother a Christmas card and told her I did that she’s said that’s the best memorial she could have After the trial the woman who was the
presiding grand, the presiding juror her mother went out there and found her
and said I just want to tell you the first time I saw you you I knew you were
the woman who would save my daughter’s soul the day before we went for the Beck
sentencing we had the whole task force here her mother was here she sat here and told stories about Kaye Turner, her daughter and it was very satisfying, everybody was listening you know it was great, yeah Marlene Gabrielsen grew up as a member
of the Inupiaq people in Alaska and she moved back there for a time
after her rape no longer feeling safe in Oregon She eventually returned but still
struggles not just with the aftermath of the attack but the knowledge that had she been believed much of what followed might never have happened I figured it
was because I was nothing I wasn’t going to amount to anything
I was brown and I was ugly So you know you’re not gonna amount to anything, Don’t think you are
you know I think that’s why I cowered so much back then You’re the first person
and you know what my first thought was when I read that message
why would she care? cuz that’s the mindset I had with this whole thing from the gate that’s what made me come
was cuz there’s someone that actually cared I know which is a miracle you know I mean this makes me feel really
good because there is a reason why I’m here and I guess I am not that ugly you
know and I’m not worthless My name? Yeah, Marlene K Gabrielsen, I’m Inupiaq I’m a strong woman

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