(article from Oct. 8, 1988)
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Wendy Lee Coffield's strangled body was found dumped in the Green River south of Seattle in 1982. This year, the scattered remains of Peri Suzette Farmer were found in rural San Diego County.
Some 1,700 miles and six years separates the slayings, but task forces in Washington and California are trying to determine whether an elusive murderer's path can be traced between them - a path marked by up to 56 other deaths and disappearances.
Coffield, 16, was the first victim linked to the so-called Green River serial killer, who is officially blamed for the murders of 40 women in Washington and Oregon.
On Sept. 27, a San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesperson said the department had identified Farmer, 22, and that her death was being investigated by a 10-member task force formed to investigate the killings and any possible link to the Green River case.
Police blame the disappearances of eight others in Washington and Oregon on the same killer, who preyed mostly on prostitutes and transients until the slayings appeared to end in March 1984.
The San Diego task force is looking into the deaths of women, dating back to June 1985, whose bodies were dumped throughout the county and whose murders seem to fit the pattern of the Green River killings.
Lt. Bill Baxter, head of the San Diego Sheriff's Department homicide unit, has said up to a dozen cases may be related.
''It's a possibility,'' Baxter said this summer. ''I wouldn't say it's remote. But it hasn't risen to a conclusive statement that there's a linkage.''
''The lead detectives in this case believe the Green River killer is responsible for some of the killings in San Diego,'' a Green River Task Force detective told The San Diego Union newspaper in August.
San Diego sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Liz Foster said two men arrested in connection with attacks on prostitutes are being investigated.
No one contacted Saturday at either the sheriff's office or the police department knew about the status of the investigation.
Similarities exist among the cases:
-Most victims were strangled, had backgrounds in prostitution or drug use and were transients.
-Most of the Seattle victims were found near an area called Pacific Highway South, which is dotted with motels and bars popular with prostitutes. Most of the San Diego victims were found near or along El Cajon Boulevard, an area much like the Seattle strip.
-In Seattle, the killer dumped a number of his victims in wooded areas 30 to 40 miles from the city. In San Diego, many of the bodies were left on secondary roads within 75 miles of the city.
-The Green River series appears to have ended in 1984, after police began heavy enforcement efforts against men patronizing prostitutes. The San Diego series began in 1985.
Self-described streetwalkers on El Cajon Boulevard say they are aware of the killings.
''The police let us know how many girls are missing or if one is found,'' said one woman, who identified herself as Christy, 18, from Washington, D.C.
She said the police also have warned prostitutes to be careful of whom they solicit for business. ''The fear's there,'' she added.
In Seattle, it wasn't until two years after Coffield's body was found, and many killings later, that a task force was formed.
King County Police Capt. Bob Evans, head of the Green River Task Force, believes a more concerted effort in the beginning could have ended the Seattle spree.
''If we knew back in '82-'83 what we know now, then all of these killings wouldn't have happened,'' he said.
(article from the NY Times, Sept 22, 1990)