For all the beauty of its forests and the arts and culture found in its cities, Washington state is also home to some of the most notoriousmurderersin history. At various times,serial killersTed Bundy,Gary The Green River Killer Ridgway, andIsrael Keyescalled The Evergreen State home.
When BernardKeithHowellIIIwas pulled over in Tenino, Washington, with the dead body of Vanda Boone in the passenger seat of his truck in 2010, authorities thought ofNancy Moyer, who disappeared a year earlier in the same town, reportedThe Olympiannewspaper.
Was there another serial killer on the loose, or was it just a grim coincidence?
VandaSkauBoone was new to the Pacific Northwest. She hailed from Sao Paulo, Brazil, but she had spent the last 20 years of her life in Queens, New York, where she worked as a massage therapist.In March 2010, she moved to the small town of Yelm, Washington, about 60 miles south of Seattle.
Shechosethe area so she could study atRamthasSchool of Enlightenment, the new age spiritual sect led by J.Z. Knight. Once there, she got a job at Radiance Herbs and Massage, up the road in the college town of Olympia.
The ride west had not been easy. Along the way, her moving truck caught on fire, destroying most of her belongings, according to local newspaper theNisqually Valley News. Several months after her arrival, she learned her brother had died back home in Brazil.
Andrea Seabert, her boss at Radiance Herbs and Massage, told theThe Olympianthat Boone faced such challenges with amazing grace and beauty.
She was one of those bright lights, Seabert told The Olympian. She always had kind words to say and just had the highest integrity.
Growing up,Howell III, who was known asKeith,lived in various parts of Washingtons Puget Sound.
I was a membership manager at private RV resorts, the kids were all raised in beautiful places, his father, Bernard K. Howell Jr., told local news websiteLewis County Sirens.
According to his father, Keithwas a good student, but he began having problems when he was 17. Keith would later tell investigators he heard voices, according to local paper thePeninsula Daily News.
After dropping out of both vocational school and college, he worked as a security guard before trying his hand as an entrepreneur, going door to door selling gourmet meat.While holding down the job, Keith, 26, lived on and off with his father in Tenino and beganusing methamphetamine, according to local NBC affiliateKING5.
He wouldnt go see anyone ... He was really aggressive and angry sometimes, Bernard told Lewis County Sirens.
Bernardsaid on the day of the murder,Keithwas upset about his fledgling business and a lack of money. In a rage, he ran off to a local park.
A 14-mile walking and biking trail runs between Yelm and Tenino. It was there on Aug.8, 2010, that Keith and Boone crossed paths in one fatal encounter. Evidence points to it being a brutal attack. A coroner would later determine Boones throat had been slit and that she had suffered blunt force trauma to her head and neck. She had also been asphyxiated, either by strangulation or smothering, according to the Nisqually Valley News.
Keith would tell investigators he had sex with Boones body after she was deceased,according to a probable cause affidavit obtained byOxygen.com.
Following the murder, Keith asked a man near Daves Thriftway grocery store if he would help him move the body. The man refused and flagged down a sheriffs office deputy, and Keith was pulled over by the deputy a few blocks away.
On the passenger side, they found the body of Vanda Boone wrapped in a sleeping bag,sheet andplastic, according totheprobable cause affidavit.
Keith initially said he had found Boone deceased and was going to bury her himself in order to save her family money, according to probable cause affidavit. He had a 10-pound weight that he intended to use to submerge her body in a nearby swamp, he told the deputy. Keithdenied murdering Boone andwas arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, according totheprobable cause affidavit.
The Thurston County Sheriffs Office soon began looking at Keith as a person of interest in the disappearance of Nancy Moyer, according toThe Olympiannewspaper. Moyer, a 36-year-old mother of two, had gone missing from her Tenino home in March 2009, leaving behind her purse and car. The initial investigation into her disappearance produced no leadsdespite a $105,000 reward for information leading to her return andhercase is now being reexamined in Searching For, an original series onOxygen.com.
Moyer andKeithlived less than a mile from each other.
He lived close to her, Thurston County Sheriffs Office Lt. Chris Mealy toldLewis County Sirens.Seattle Mariners player Ichiro Suzukicould hit a baseball from his house to her house,he said.
Another commonality between the two cases is the market where Keith was spotted with Boones body Daves Thriftway is one ofthelast placesMoyer was seen before her disappearance, according to theSeattle Times. In a search of Moyers home, investigators also found the same brand of meatKeithhad been selling in her freezer, retired Thurston County Sheriff's Detective David Haller toldTrue Crime Daily.
Keithpleaded guilty to first-degree murder in March 2011, according toThe Seattle Times. He was given the maximum sentence of almost 27 years in prison, according toKOMO.
Haller later interviewed Keith about Moyer, but "he just absolutely refused to cooperate in any way. No polygraph, wasn't going to give any statements, denied ever selling her meat, denied ever knowing her, said Haller.
No evidence has ever linked Keith to the Moyer case, and no further charges have ever been brought against him. She remains missing to this day, and her disappearance has been ruled ano-bodyhomicide, according toThe Daily Chronicle.
Earlier this summer, Moyers former neighbor and co-worker,Eric Lee Roberts, allegedly told detectives he murdered Moyer, but he later recanted his confession, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained byOxygen.com.Robertshas not been charged andis currently freewhile the Thurston County Sheriffs Office conducts its investigation.
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