Oregon Woman Murdered by ‘Happy Face Killer’ Identified After Nearly 30 Years


California detectives have identified a Colton woman as a victim of the “Happy Face Killer,” almost 30 years after her body was found.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday that Patricia Skiple was the person who was found dead on the side of a road in unincorporated Gilroy, California in 1993.

Keith Hunter Jesperson, a serial killer currently serving a life sentence at the Oregon State Penitentiary, acquired the “Happy Face Killer” moniker after he wrote a series of anonymous letters to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and to The Oregonian where he confessed to committing five murders and used a happy face symbol as a signature. The Oregonian in 1994 printed a five-part series about the “Happy Face Killer,” and the confessions.

For nearly 30 years, the identity of the woman found dead on June 3, 1993, was unknown. She was a “Jane Doe,” who authorities referred to as “Blue Pacheco,” because of the blue clothing she was wearing when she was found.

Jesperson has claimed to have committed more than 100 murders, but authorities have confirmed only eight killings of women in Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming.

In 2006, Jesperson wrote a letter to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office admitting to killing a woman along a dirt turnout on Highway 152 in California, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said. In July 2007, Jesperson pled guilty to killing the woman, though her identity wasn’t yet known when Jesperson was convicted.

Skiple wasn’t identified as the victim until last week on April 13. The sheriff’s office said Skiple was a mother and a longtime resident of Colton, Oregon. She would have been about 45 years old when she was killed.

Cold case detectives were able to finally identify Skiple with the assistance of the DNA Doe Project, a volunteer organization that uses genetic genealogy to identify “Jane and John Does,” and often works with law enforcement agencies.