Eugene police release suspect sketch in 1980s murders

The Eugene Police Department is hoping new technology helps them solve three murders from the 1980s.

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 12:30 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2018 6:05 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene Police Department has developed a composite image of a suspect in three cold case murders from the 1980s, using new technology.

On June 5, 1986, Eugene police and fire medics responded to an apartment at 255 High Street and found Gladys May Hensley, 62, dead. An apartment employee did a welfare check after she had not been seen for several days. The investigation revealed Hensley was murdered.

Police said evidence at the scene connects Hensley's murder with two additional murders, one that happened in the same month and the other in February 1988.

On June 19, 1986, Janice Marie Dickinson, 33, was found murdered behind a car dealership at 20 Coburg Road. She was naked and had been sexually assaulted. Her death was attributed to brutal homicidal violence.

On February 28, 1988, Oregon State Police investigated the death of Geraldine Spencer Toohey, who was 73. She was found in her home on the 5400 block of Franklin Boulevard.

Police said they found evidence of forced entry into the home. They said she was sexually assaulted and her death was also attributed to brutal homicidal violence.

In August 2000, police said they used DNA to connect all three murders.

The Eugene Police Department said they investigated eight murders in 1986. Four of them happened in a three month period beginning with Hensley's murder.

They said they developed several persons of interest who have all been excluded through DNA comparison. All three cases have lacked any strong leads.

In 2016, a new technology came to the market from Parabon Nano Labs. Snapshot Phenotyping can predict the physical appearance and ancestry of an unknown person from DNA. 

"This allows investigators to eliminate suspects who really don't match the prediction, " said Dr. Ellen Greytack with Parabon. 

Police said it's ideal for generating investigative leads, narrowing suspect lists and solving human remains cases. Parabon can produce a detailed report and composite sketch that includes eye color, skin color, hair color, face morphology and detailed biogeographic ancestry.

Police used this technology to develop a composite image of the suspect in these murders. Detectives hope the new information will generate new leads in the cases. It also gives people like Kay Mascal, Dickinson's sister hope to soon find closure.

"It's been really difficult on one hand to look at that face and know that that person is out there," Mascal said. "on the other hand it gives me hope that someone else is going to see it."

The Eugene Police Department's Violent Crimes Unit has established a dedicated tip line for these cases and is asking anyone with information to call 541-682-5162.

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