She Has A Name
Updated: Oct 4
While I was working on my book - Serial Killers: Then & Now, I got a phone call late one night from Keith Hunter Jesperson, also known as the Happy Face Killer. He got that nickname from the press (where most of those nicknames come from) because he wrote them a letter claiming responsibility for a murder that put two people in prison who did not do it, and he signed it with a little happy face graphic.
That became his moniker and Jesperson, admitted to killing 8 women in the early 1990's.
A long haul trucker, he traversed the country and killed women in Oregon, Wyoming, Nebraska, Washington, California and Florida. Most of his victims were hitchhikers, and sadly, he never really knew who they were so some remained Jane Does for decades.
When he called me, early in 2022, it was because a rumor flying around the prison (Oregon State Penitentiary, Salem, Oregon) that there was another victim of his discovered, however, he took responsibility for all EIGHT of the women he admitted to killing (one, however, his 3rd victim, still has not been found). Currently, he is serving 7 consecutive life sentences.
Jesperson, while on the phone with me, asked if I could look online to see why he was in the news, and I was able to tell him that one of his victims had just been identified.
She had been found near Gilroy, California, and remained unidentified for nearly 30 years and was known as "Blue Pacheco" because of her clothing color and had been located near the Pacheco Pass. Her name is Patricia (Patsy) Skiple.
I gave this information to Keith, who thanked me then called again a few days later with an extraordinary request. He told me he was glad she had been identified, and, asked if I could do what I could to help identify his other Jane Doe victims.
At that time, there were still two Jane Does and one missing victim, so I reached out to law enforcement from where those victims had been and offered whatever assistance I could to help get them identified.
There was one in Florida, his sixth victim, found on September 15th, 1994, near Crestview. Jesperson could vaguely remember her name as something like Susanna, but that was about it. He did assist law enforcement by doing a drawing of what he remembered her looking like. When she had been found, too much decomposition of the body prevented any accurate photos taken to try to help identify her, so she remained a Jane Doe for nearly 30 years.
When I contacted the Okaloosa Sheriff's Department (they have jurisdiction over this case), I asked if they would send samples from her bones to be tested and these people were amazing, and sent not one but two samples to different labs and were able to make a match. I do not know, if they were already sending out samples for testing after the success of the identity of Patricia Skiple.
Othram, Inc., a forensic genetic genealogy laboratory based in Texas, was able to make the match. Her name is Suzanne L. Kjellenberg, originally from Wisconsin. Suzanne had been strangled to death by Jesperson. He was giving her a ride, and when they stopped at a rest station, she started screaming and would not stop, so he killed her.
I have visited with Jesperson at the prison and spoke with him many times through letters and phone calls and he is, as he puts it, "comfortable" with his guilt. He does not have problems talking about what he did, and told me more than once he never wanted to kill anyone and always felt bad directly afterwards, wondering why he was a murderer.
His behavior was as much a mystery to him, as his crimes were vexing to law enforcement. The interviews law enforcement did with him in Oregon will be made available. In the meantime, you can view the press conference here.