Editor's note: The following information is from the King County Sheriff's Office.
King County Sheriff’s Cold Case Detectives said they have positively identified the previously unnamed remains of a victim of Green River Killer Gary Ridgway. The remains were identified as Sandra Denise Major after DNA samples were obtained from family members.
The remains were found at the Mountview Cemetery in Auburn on December 30, 1985 along with the remains of murder victim Kimi Pitsor and another still unidentified Green River victim. Detectives named the remains “Bones 16” because they did not know enough to positively identify her and she was the 16th set of remains found.
In late April 2012 the victim’s cousin, who lives in Rochester New York, contacted the Sheriff’s Office after watching a made for T.V. movie about the Green River murders. Family members suspected that a missing family member may have been the victim of the Green River Killer.
Rochester Police Missing Persons Unit assisted by obtaining DNA samples from family members and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) assisted by requesting that the processing of sample be expedited.
University of North Texas, Center for Human Identification agreed to expedite the work on the family reference samples and provided scientific evidence that resulted in the authentication of the identification by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Bode Technology did DNA work on the remains in 2011 and 2012 and obtained the DNA profiles of the unidentified remains that allowed this identification to be made.
Detectives learned that Major had been reported missing on December 24, 1982 by a friend who saw her get into a truck with near N 90th St and Aurora Ave N. Detectives said that not enough was known about Major to positively identify her when her remains were discovered in 1985. Detectives said that family members coming forward and advances in technology were instrumental in Major’s identification. Major was 20 at the time of her disappearance.
Gary Ridgeway admitted to killing Major and the other two women who were found at the cemetery. He pled guilty to murder in 2003 and is serving a life sentence without parole in Walla Walla, Wa.
The Green River case still has three sets of unidentified remains and welcome tips as to the identities of those women.
Statement from Family of Sandra Major
We would like to thank the detectives from the King County Sheriff’s Office who diligently worked this case. We are grateful to finally know what happened to Sandra after all these years.
We were aware of the lifestyle Sandra lived but she was still a part of our family. We last saw Sandra here in New York in 1982. We received a letter from her in 1982 with a Seattle postmark but no return address. We never heard from her again and did not know what happened to her.
Recently one of Sandra’s cousins saw a television show about the Green River Killer. We learned that the remains of some of the victims that had not been identified. Since the last contact with Sandra had been the letter from Seattle, we decided to make contact with investigators to see if Sandra was one of the unidentified victims.
We want to thank the detectives from the King County Sheriff’s Office, the University of North Texas, Bode Technology and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for working together to bring closure to our family.
We respectfully ask that the media allow us privacy.
Family of Sandra Major