California 'Happy Face Killer' victim identified nearly 30 years later as 45-year-old mother from Oregon

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California investigators have identified a victim of the West Coast’s notorious “Happy Face Killer” nearly 30 years after her body was discovered near a highway in 1993, officials recently announced.

Investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office used genealogy to identify Patricia “Patsy” Skiple as the victim dubbed “Blue Pacheco” for the color of her clothing at the time her remains were discovered.

Skiple, from Colton, Oregon, was a mother and was around 45 years old when she was killed. Authorities identified her with help from the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit group that uses volunteers to help identify people listed as “Jane Does” or “John Does” through DNA profiles of possible relatives.

Investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office used genetic genealogy to identify Patricia "Patsy" Skiple as a victim of California's "Happy Face Killer."

Investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office used genetic genealogy to identify Patricia “Patsy” Skiple as a victim of California’s “Happy Face Killer.”
(Santa Clara Count Sheriff’s Office)

Skiple’s body was found on June 3, 1993, on the side of California State Route 152 in the Gilroy area near the San Francisco Bay Area.

The cause of her death was listed as undetermined at the time.

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In 2006, Keith Hunter Jesperson wrote to the county district attorney’s office and said he had sexually assaulted and killed a woman near the highway.

Jesperson, who was arrested in 1995 on suspicion of killing a woman in Washington state, was dubbed the Happy Face Killer because he drew smiley faces on letters he sent to the media and police, prosecutors said.

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He eventually confessed to killing eight women between 1990 and 1995 in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska, and Wyoming. He currently is serving four life sentences without possibility of parole in Oregon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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