Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Lee Yates Jr.

Two More Bodies

A little more than a month later another body was found.  This time, on Sunday, March 25, 1990, the Spokane Police Department was called to the 3200 block of East South Riverton regarding a report of a body found in the road shortly after 6 a.m.   The victim was a white female, and it was clear to the investigators that she had been shot to death.  She was eventually identified as 34-year-old Nickie I. Lowe, who, like the previous victim, had a history of prostitution and drug abuse.  Lowe was last seen a day earlier in the East Sprague area of Spokane.  During Lowe's autopsy, a .22-caliber bullet was retrieved from her body relatively intact, and it was noted that a strong odor of motor oil emanated from her body.  Toxicology tests results confirmed the presence of cocaine and cocaine metabolites in Lowe's body.

Although the detectives investigating the murders of Yolanda Sapp and Nickie Lowe were reasonably certain that both women had been done in by the same killer, little headway was made in the investigation over the next seven weeks and no additional bodies were found, leaving investigators wondering whether their killer had moved on to another locale or was just lying low for awhile.  However, they weren't left wondering for long.

On Tuesday, May 15, 1990, at approximately 7:45 p.m., the Spokane County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of a body found in the Trent and Pines area near the banks of the Spokane River.  The victim was a white female, and was nude except for rings on her fingers.  She also had contusions and lacerations to the head, prompting the investigators to believe that she had been beaten with a blunt object.  They also observed gunshot wounds.  Crime scene investigators recovered articles of female clothing from the scene, as well as a pair of shoes, a plastic bag stained with blood, a cigarette butt, and vegetation samples.  This time, however, they also found tire tracks, the tire tread patterns, which were carefully photographed.

Kathleen Brisbois, 1990
Kathleen Brisbois, 1990

The latest victim was identified as Kathleen Brisbois, 38.  Bullets were recovered from her body during the autopsy, and trace evidence such as hair and fiber was collected and sent to the state crime laboratory.  Toxicology tests revealed the presence of morphine and cocaine metabolites in Brisbois' body, indicating that she had used cocaine and most likely heroin prior to her death.  Investigators believed that she had been engaged in prostitution activities at the time of her death.

By now, because of the similarities of the victims' deaths, the fact that a small caliber gun was used, and the fact that all were engaged in prostitution left little doubt in the investigators' minds that they were dealing with a bonafide serial killer.  Just when and where he would strike next was anybody's guess.  In the meantime, they were not anywhere close to identifying the killer, and everyone realized that he could leave a large number of bodies in his wake before being apprehended.


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