Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Deception

After talking to Greg’s friends, some of the troopers got the impression they might be covering for the perpetrator(s). That Elsie Young admitted Greg had paid for her taxi fare, yet told her not to tell the cops he’d done so, looked an awful lot like deception. But there was now another possibility: it wasn’t Greg who left the Montana Club that night; it was his cousin Ronnie. Was he responsible for Beth’s murder, instead of Greg?

Gilmour especially felt the need to unravel the deception and get to the true story, which he felt Greg and his friends had somehow withheld. He might have missed one distiction: his belief that Greg might be withholding information was predicated in part on Elsie Young telling the truth. Deception sometimes takes funny turns. Gilmour nonetheless decided to take another run at Greg. During the course of the interview, Greg Nicholas quickly managed to turn the topic toward his cousin Ronnie. The cops were in no mood to stop him.


INTERVIEW: Greg Nicholas, January 5, 1972 (Gilmour & Reed)
“I don’t think Ronnie is mean, but he could very easily become mean. He is always talking about his muscles and strength. He is totally a different type of person than me. I am not really scared of him, but in the back of my mind I was. So I watch myself at screaming at him.

“I went to Beth’s to see about the babysitting because I was in a hurry to get to Beth’s; then I went to the Fly-By-Night because I wasn’t in a hurry to get downtown. I wanted to stop at the garage around 9:00 or 9:30.

“Ronnie was wearing real hard boots. I can draw a picture of them. (A drawing was obtained of Ronnie’s boot from Greg. Photo lineup showing a number of footprints taken at McHugh Creek Campground was shown to Greg.)

Deception
McHugh Creek Campground – Snow

“The slick-sided foot print that is big looks like Ronnie’s shoe print… I think from your photos it looks like my car and Ronnie may have been at the campground. ‘Oh yeah,’ Greg continued. ‘I did give the key to Ronnie that night.’ Ronnie told me earlier he wished he could take my car. I told Ronnie, ‘If you take me to work and bring me back, I’ll give you the key.'”

Deception

“Yeah, it looks like my car and Ron’s footprints were in the McHugh Creek Campground to me. Ron is the only person who had my key. I had some new keys made up in Kenai. I kept two and gave one to Ron. Ron is the only person who could have used the car while I was in the bar. I think most people notice, Ron is different. Ask Elsie and Mary.

Deception

“Ron knew about my calling Beth. He was listening very close and probably on his way to pick her up. If Beth was sexually molested and hair was found, Ron’s hair would probably look just like mine, wouldn’t it? Well, things look pretty bad for me; it looks like either me or Ron. So I think I’ll leave.

GILMOUR: What are you waiting for to tell the whole story?

GREG NICHOLAS: I am waiting for the lab results.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Wassilie & Frieda

Wassilie is a Yup’ik name, (perhaps derived from the Russian, “Wassily,” given early contacts between the two groups). Many in the family hail from the southwestern reaches of Alaska, near Bethel. Counted among them are Moses Wassilie, noted artist and sometime-actor.

Wassilie
Bethel, Alaska

The Wassilie Wassilie we speak of here is not famous — or infamous, for that matter. Her story is much simpler. She was out on the town one night with friends, minding her own business, when someone went missing.

Frieda Shannigan, meanwhile, looms as the linchpin in Greg’s mad quest to find a babysitter. Without Frieda, it seems, there was no reason for Greg to contact Beth.


INTERVIEW: Wassilie Wassilie, Tuesday, December 4, 1972 (Investigator Zaruba)
“On December 22, 1971, I was at the Montana Tavern (sic) with Elsie Young and four other people. I know it was the 22nd because I remember getting mad at Elsie because she was ignoring me. On the 23rd I was home ill and on the 24th at about 10:00 am I took my cousin to the airport.

“I picked up Elsie Young at her house between 7:00 – 7:30 pm. We drove around for about 45 minutes. Then we went to the Montana Tavern about 8:15 pm. Elsie said she had to be home before 9:00 pm.

“Elsie and I entered the bar. We met this fellow and girl that Elsie knew from Kenai. We sat down and had a couple of beers. Then these two guys came in and sat down with us and began talking. They started talking about something. This went on for about 5 minutes.

“Then I said to Elsie I was going to leave. She finished her drink and we left. I got mad at her and she went back inside. I then got in my car and went back to my apartment… It is possible I picked up Elsie Young at 8:00 pm. We definitely drove around for about 45 minutes.

Zaruba: How long were you in the Montana Tavern?

Wassilie: We were in the Montana Tavern long enough for me to finish one beer and I drank about 3/4 of my second. This took about 20 minutes before the two guys ID’d in the photos came in. This could have been 5 or 10 minutes after 9:00 pm.

INTERVIEW: Frieda Shannigan, Tuesday, December 4, 1972 (Investigator Zaruba)
“I think it was Greg that told me he was living with a relative who would babysit if I wanted her to, but I said, ‘No.’ They tried to persuade me to go out, but I still said I didn’t want to go out. At no time did Ron or Greg say they were going to call up a babysitter.”


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Scene of the Crime: “Craig Has Always Been Wild”

CROSS-POST In 1982, Craig, Alaska, was a village with minimal police presence and a rough reputation. As one long time resident told a visiting reporter, “Craig has always been wild. And there’s no getting over that.”

There were only two cops – and no jail. There was also one Alaska State trooper; he was conveniently stationed in Klawock, seven miles north of Craig along a narrow, one-track road. Sometimes called, “Little Chicago,” alcohol-driven fights were common in Craig. Sometimes they turned into brawls. Sometimes firearms were involved. Back in the day, murders were an inconvenience, more likely to be ignored than punished. MORE>>>

Wild
Craig from the Water

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Elsie Young

Greg Nicholas was good friends with the Young family who, like him, were Alaska Natives. They were with him when his car hit a moose. One of them, Elsie Young, was allegedly with him at the Montana Club on the night Beth went missing. It made sense to interview them and confirm — or repudiate — Greg’s story. As with everything else, troopers got a little of both.

But by the time they finished with Elsie, the alarms were going off, if not loudly, then with a persistent, annoying hum.

Elsie
The Young’s were with Greg Nicholas when he hit a moose near Naptowne.


INTERVIEW: David Young, Wednesday, December 29, 1971 (Investigator Benson)
“On Wednesday my sister (Elsie Young) saw him (Greg) in the Montana Club. She told me she saw Greg.” [Wednesday, December 22, was the night Beth went missing]

INTERVIEW: Elsie Young, Monday, January 3, 1972 (Investigator Zaruba)
“Around 9:00 pm on 12/22/71 I ran into Greg Nicholas at the Montana Tavern (sic). He was with his cousin Ron someone. There were four of us sitting a a table: Wassilie Wassilie, Mary Schofield, Clifford Dolchock and myself.

“Greg and his cousin came into the bar. They came over and were talking to us. They ordered drinks. Greg had a Christian Bros. straight. His cousin had whisky and water… We sat and talked for about two hours…

“[And then] on Sunday [January 2] around midnight I was home asleep on the couch when Greg came over and pounded on the door. I let him in and he appeared as though he was running. He said the cops were suspecting him of killing his cousin and he wanted me to say that on the night of 12/22/71 I was with him from 9:00 pm until midnight, and he told me that I wouldn’t be involved in this and not to be scared. Greg looked scared at the time. He said he really wanted me to help him and to speak nothing but the truth.

“This morning Greg came over to my house and we talked. He said the cops were suspecting him of killing the girl and that they suspected him of drugs. I asked him how he and his cousin got along and he said they just didn’t get along and that they just roomed next to each other. He said he had tried to be nice to her and talk to her and then he dropped the subject.

“Greg had a knife in a pouch on his belt when I saw him on 12/22/71 and also in Kenai [when they hit the moose], because he cut a piece of tape for me. I don’t know if he still has the knife.”

That Greg was afraid the cops suspected him in Beth’s murder raised the possibility he had a reason to be scared. That he had a knife was significant: Beth had been slashed across the chest, with knife marks between her breasts.

Elsie Young deserved another interview. More than anything, troopers wanted her to confirm the timeline of her interactions with Greg. At this point, the timeline was everything. Was it possible that she was with Greg on a different day?

RE-INTERVIEW: Elsie Young, Tuesday, January 4, 1972 (Investigator Zaruba)
“I know I was in the Montana on 22 December because that was the same day I broke up with my boyfriend. There is no way I could be mistaken about the date.

“I know I met Greg in the bar at 9:00 pm because Wassili picked me up at 8:00 pm and we drove around until about 9:00 pm. Then we went to the Montana.

“I’m certain Greg took me home at 12:00 pm because I checked my watch for the time because I had to go to work the next day. I was with Greg all that time. I did not see Beth van Zanten.

“Everything I have told you in both my statements is true. I will take a polygraph exam.”

Zaruba: When was the last time you talked to Greg?

Elsie Young: Greg called from the Tiki Room last night at 6:00 pm.

(cont.) “Monday morning at 9:00 am Greg gave me $20 for cab fare to come out and see you. Greg never gave me any money before Monday morning and he has never given me any money since. Greg did not ask me to tell you any lies at all; however, he did say if they ask you if I gave you any money, don’t tell them.”


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Moose Tracks

In the days following Beth’s disappearance, Greg Nicholas experienced a major misadventure. On Christmas Eve, he hit a moose and totaled his car. Who could have guessed that a large ruminant would be involved in the destruction of evidence? Hint: Anyone who lives in Alaska.

In interviews, meanwhile, Greg continued to insist that he had not seen nor picked up Beth after stopping at her house on December 22nd. But there were problems there too. Greg waivered on some things. Was that the alcohol talking? Or something more insidious.


INTERVIEW (cont.): Greg Nicholas, December 26, 1971; AST Investigator Benson (excerpts)

“I drove to Kenai on Friday night [December 24] with Elsie Young, Tessi Young and Dave Young. We left Anchorage at 7:30 pm, stopped at the Bird House* for a few drinks. At Mile 81 of the Sterling Highway (five miles from Naptowne), I struck a moose. Troopers did not come. A state highway man came. The state man towed it, the car, to Naptowne.”

“I don’t think I went to the shop [Fly-By-Night] to see Dave. I really got drunk.”

“Ron [Broughton, Greg’s cousin] said he was going to a bar downtown. He did not use my car.”

“The last time I saw Beth was at her house. I have not seen her since. I do not know anyone else who saw her.”

“Jack [Beth’s father] told me early Thursday that Beth was missing. [She disappeared on Wednesday.] I don’t know anyone who would have harmed her. I don’t know anyone that went and picked Beth up at her house. I did not drive south of Klatt Rd. on December 22, 1971. I did not pick up Beth along the road or at any place on December 22, 1971.”

Moose
Klatt Rd. in relation to McHugh Creek & van Zanten House


* The Bird House was a ramshackle legend of a bar along Seward Highway, south of Anchorage. Its floors were permanently slanted, the result of having survived the 1964 earthquake, which put it on about a 10 degree angle. Visiting patrons pinned panties, paper notes and sundry items to its walls in tribute to its tilted charm. It was as Alaska as it gets. It didn’t survive the ’90’s; an electrical fire burned it to the ground.

Moose
Bird House @ Bird Creek


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Bob Talks Christmas

Robert Hansen was ultimately asked to make a statement as to his whereabouts on December 22nd, the night Beth van Zanten turned up missing. His statement was not expansive in any sense of the word. Instead, Hansen gave them the most consise statement possible. It was as if, somehow, the cops wanted him to pay for each and every syllable, then wrap it up like a Christmas present. He was detemined not to do that.

Went to work at 4:45 December 22, 1971. Got through work at 2:00 p.m. Went home to 327 Thomas Court. Spent the rest of the afternoon from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with my wife and sister-in-law and daughter, then left to Larry Bivins’ on 6th St. for pizza supper. Left there about 10:30 went home with my wife and daughter. Went to bed about 11:00 p.m. Got up again about 4:30 dressed and arrived at work about 4:45 a.m. Thursday and worked until 2:00 p.m.

Hansen makes nine references to the time of day in his handwritten statement. Nine. Only once did he underline a time. 10:30 p.m.

It so happened that Beth disappeared from her house at approximately 9:00 p.m. in the midst of the Christmas season. Hansen is consciously stressing that he was somewhere else until after Beth went missing. He seems well aware of the timeframe when she disappeared. He has an alibi, dammit.


Sgt. Glenn Flothe on Hansen’s statement:

“We know now that Hansen would go days without sleep and finally crash for a couple of hours and go again. A good alibi is one close to the truth — he had plenty of time [to kidnap, rape and assault Beth van Zanten].”

Christmas
Sgt. Glenn Flothe


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: The Wire

Forensics, then as now, always play an important role in murder investigations. At a very high level, there are two parallel paths with forensic evidence: what you find and what you can to do with it. Troopers were struggling on both fronts.

Physical evidence was sparse. No foreign hair was found in any of the victim combings or her clothing. The sperm found in her womb could have been dispositive but, at the time, forensic scientists could only make blood, not DNA, matches. Her time of death was also uncertain: the forensic pathologist told them that the low temperatures and cause of death delayed rigor mortis. The only piece of physical evidence they really had was the wire used to tie Beth’s hands.

Troopers were also playing hell getting the wire identified. One of Gilmour’s investigators had been all over town, to every possible business that might handle such an object. The wire was a double-strand, black and white stereo wire, with indications it was made in Japan. While one trooper tried businesses, another contacted Interpol, asking if they could track down the manufacturer and identify an American outlet for that product. That too was proving impossible.

Wire

One hope stood out: the wire could have come from a G.I. who’d been in Asia. There was, after all, a war going on in Southeast Asia. Alaska was a major military transport point for Vietnam and other points east. And then there was this: one of Beth’s ex-boyfriend’s was in the military. And at one time, before he was sent to Vietnam, they were supposed to get married. Stationed at Fort Wainwright, the ex-boyfriend had in fact been in Fairbanks at the time of Beth’s disappearance.


INTERVIEW: William Frederick Smith, Beth van Zanten’s ex-boyfriend
December 22, 1971

  • Went to work and Sergeant Bennett gave me the day off at approximately 1:00 pm.
  • 2:00 pm: My brother and I got a Christmas tree.
  • 5:00 – 5:30 pm: I went to Fairbanks to pick up my sister and fiancé.
  • 8:00 pm: Met their Alaska Airlines plane in Fairbanks. The two women went shopping at Penney’s and I got gas.
  • 11:00 pm: Got home and stayed there.

There was more. Bill’s brother could account for his whereabouts since December 21st — the day before Beth went missing. As far as the wire — and everything else — was concerned, this was a dead end. Not only was Smith elsewhere during the time of Beth’s murder, he had moved on to another relationship.

And that wire Detective Rice spied at Robert Hansen’s house? Languishing.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Hansen Evasive

After towing his car, the cops brought Robert Hansen in to talk about Sandra Patterson. As was the case when they seized the Pontiac, both the Anchorage Police Department and Alaska State Troopers were present, in the persons of Detective Ron Rice and Sgt. Don Hughes, respectively. Hansen was characteristically evasive during the interview. So evasive that there were long pauses while Hansen collected his lies. So evasive that he continually claimed to remember nothing. Sgt. Hughes, who led the interview, found Hansen so evasive that he made note of it.

INTERVIEW
HANSEN, ROBERT C., address: 327 Thomas Circle, Anchorage, Alaska. MR. HANSEN was interviewed at the Anchorage Police Department by Detective Ron Rice and this investigator. The interview began at approximately 5:20 p.m. Prior to the interview, MR. HANSEN was advised of his rights, the Miranda Warning and the Waiver of Rights, which he replied that he understood and would talk to me. Present at this time was the defendant, Detective Ron Rice, and this investigator. Interview took place on 12/28/1971.

Evasive
Robert Hansen, Bowhunter

MR. HANSEN, for the first 45 minutes to an hour, maintained that he had no idea of what we were talking about. Several times during this interview, there were pauses to let MR. HANSEN collect his thoughts. He continued to maintain that he remembered nothing. He was shown a copy of the Registration card from Sunrise Inn on Seward Highway, which is shown to have been written by the person registering there on Sunday morning, 12/19/71. He looked at it and admitted it looked like his writing, but would not state definitely that he had written it. He was then asked if he had anything in his wallet that bore his handwriting.

He produced his wallet and emptied it on the table top and looked for something with his writing on it. It was at this time that he opened a triangular piece of white paper, and put it down, and I saw that written on this piece of paper was the name of “J. PATTERSON, 1321 P. Street, Anchorage, Alaska.” I asked him what the piece of paper was, and he professed complete ignorance of it, of the name, or how it got in his wallet. I then questioned him again about the girl he had met at the Nevada Cafe that morning, and he then began to give bits and pieces of thoughts concerning the girl.

He continued on, quote… “I think she was a prostitute. I think she said something about her price was $75.00.”

Then he asked no one in particular, “Did she have black hair?” I answered him, “Yes, she had black hair.”

Again, a question to no one in particular, “Does she have a little child?” Again, I answered him, “Yes, she has.”

After considerable pause, “Seems like the girl had marks on her arms, and that she took dope, that she needed to make some money… she didn’t have a place to stay.”

I then asked, “Did you give her any money?” MR. HANSEN answered, “Didn’t have any.”

After considerable pause and thought, MR. HANSEN continued, “Seems like her car was next to mine, and was running. She got into my car… seems like she was crying. I don’t remember. Said she just wanted to go… to get out of there… can’t remember.”

“Seems like she didn’t have the child any more… Seems like she was in trouble with the law.”

“Can’t remember…” Considerable pause. “I can remember her saying…” (pause)

Question by HANSEN, “What’s that motel here in town… can’t remember the name of it.”

Considerable pause…

“Fancy Moose.”

“Seems like she could stay all day the next day if I would pay the rent.”

Evasive
Robert Hansen in Court, 1972

I then asked MR. HANSEN if he took the girl to the Fancy Moose, and his reply was negative, then, “I can’t remember.”

I asked MR. HANSEN if he was driving his Pontiac that day, and he said very slowly, “I don’t think so,” then more emphatically, “No, I don’t think so.”

Another pause and thought by MR. HANSEN and he continued, “I think she was mad because she didn’t make any money that night.”

“I remember her saying, ‘I didn’t make a God damned dime tonight.'”

“Seems like she’d pay for the motel room,” then considerable pause and thought… “Half of it. Didn’t make much sense… I didn’t have $75.00.”

“Seems like I remember her saying she’d go with me, but I didn’t have any money.”

“She was very tired.”

“I’m not sure about that, or if it was just me that was tired.”

MR. HANSEN again paused and started to say that he had something on his mind, but then shook his head and said, “No… no.”

I told MR. HANSEN if he had something on his mind that was bothering him, to tell us what it was. He then continued. “Hypodermic syringe… she said she wanted more dope.”

“Seems like she had some needles.”

“I don’t even know if this is right.”

“Seems like I remember a girl with dark hair… she wanted some money… seems like she’d been in a fight… her arms were sore… her wrists and arms.”

“I can’t remember going down there… just doesn’t seem like I would just before Christmas.”

Detective Rice then asked MR. HANSEN what kind of hand gun he usually carried in his car if he were going hunting, and MR. HANSEN replied, “A Colt Woodsman .22 with a six-inch barrel.”

Evasive

At this point, we called a break, and asked MR. HANSEN if he wanted a Coke or water. He wanted Coke. He was left by himself for approximately twenty minutes. Upon our return, MR. HANSEN was again advised of his rights. He stated that he most wanted to talk to MR. GILMORE, his attorney, and his doctor. The interview was terminated immediately at approximately 7:10 p.m., and MR. HANSEN was taken to the State Jail and booked.


Robert Hansen’s evasive tactics ended with the ultimate evasion: he wanted to talk to his attorney. It was his right. He knew his rights. And, as it turned out, Sandra Patterson knew her guns.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Vehicle Search

Physical evidence at the McHugh Creek murder scene was pathetic at best. With the warming temperatures of Christmas Day, the ability to capture tire or boot prints was hampered by the thaw. The search for Beth’s missing clothing turned up nothing. All they had was the wire that bound her wrists and the scraps of clothing she still wore. But this much they knew: Beth was brought to the scene in a vehicle. The search for that vehicle now assumed heightened importance.

Soon enough, troopers impounded Robert Hansen’s vehicle and brought him in for questioning. They needed to search the minutiae of his life. But they missed at least one potentially crucial piece of evidence.

Accompanying Sgt. Hughes to the Hansen residence, where they impounded the vehicle believed to have been used in Sandra Patterson’s kidnapping, was Anchorage Police Detective Ron Rice. It was Rice who spied a spool of wire in Hansen’s garage. Rice who mentioned it to Sgt. Hughes. Rice who was told that they couldn’t seize that wire, because they lacked a search warrant for the garage or items other than Hansen’s vehicle.

INFORMATION: On 12/28/71, along with a warrant for the arrest of the suspect, Mr. ROBERT C. HANSEN, a search warrant was obtained upon probable cause for his vehicle, a 1967 Pontiac, Alaska License Number 36042. This warrant was executed at Mr. HANSEN’s address, 327 Thomas Circle, at approximately 4:30 p.m. on 12/29/71 and the seized vehicle was towed by a wrecker to the Anchorage City Police garage, where it was placed under guard until 12/29/71, at which time it was searched.

Search

On 12/29/71 at approx. 8:30 a.m. at Anchorage Police Dept. Garage Warehouse a search warrant was served upon a ’67 Pontiac, license #AK 36042, for the purpose of obtaining numerous items which were listed upon the search warrant.

A complete examination of the vehicle was conducted by Lab Tech Suave, who removed numerous fingerprints from the outside and inside of the vehicle. Photographed the vehicle both inside and outside and the trunk area.

An examination of the inside interior of the vehicle revealed it to be moderately clean and free from debree [sic[. The front ashtray was full of coins and had the appearance of never being utilized by cigarettes. The back two ashtrays and the right rear contained the contents of numerous napkins and a Lark cigarette butt. The left rear ashtray contained the contents of a Marlboro cigarette butt.

Located in the glove compartment was miscellaneous personal papers and a folding pocket knife. On the floorboard of the front seat was a candy wrapper, Hershey. Located in the trunk of the vehicle were numerous items which would be utilized in hunting and camping. Among these items was a Buck hunting knife and one hammer. The latter two items were removed and confiscated as part of the search warrant. Also, among the items in the trunk was a brown Army blanket, which was photographed and vacuumed for contents. The following items were removed from the vehicle which had been listed on the search warrant:

    1. Vacuum sweepings.
    2. Ashtray contents.
    3. Folding knife.
    4. Vacuum sweepings.
    5. Vacuum sweepings.
    6. Ashtray contents.
    7. Buck hunting knife.
    8. Candy wrapper.
    9. One hammer.

Sgt. Hughes should have gone to a judge and amended the search warrant, so that it included items like the wire they saw in Hansen’s garage. Troopers already knew that Sandra Patterson had been bound. Was there something that prevented him from acting? Perhaps and this showed in the caution Hughes displayed.

Sandra had stipulated that she was bound with leather shoelaces, not the wire which was found on Beth van Zanten. That was enough difference to give a half-clever defense attorney plenty to work with. Still… There were enough other similarities between these two cases that a reasonable judge could probably have been convinced, if only because it was logical to presume that the evidence didn’t stop at the car.


Purchase Butcher, Baker

Lonesome Death of Beth van Zanten: Other Strangers

Within a week of Beth’s December 22nd disappearance, troopers found yet another pair of witnesses who’d reportedly seen Beth van Zanten on the same day she went missing. It was a bizarre tale, told by strangers. And hard to tell if the witnesses were telling the truth or wishing a truth upon an unsolved murder. They will go unnamed; let it suffice that these two strangers were mother and daughter. The mother did the talking.


“Last Wednesday afternoon we saw Beth van Zanten in the Valu Mart at around 3:30 or 4:00 pm. I went to the bathroom and entered the stall. As I sat down I heard someone say, ‘Get up off the floor, Beth.’ I heard no reply.

Strangers

“After I got done, I opened the door to the booth and saw Beth van Zanten sitting on the floor with her back against the wall. She had no shoes or stockings and her coat was lying on the floor beside her. Her hair was brownish-blonde and she had a very pale complexion. Her coat was frost green, her hair was wet, she wore dungarees and her feet were purple from cold.

“She was smoking a cigarette, flipping the ashes with her left hand. Hair parted in the middle. I saw no shoes in the area.

“I asked her what the matter was. She said, ‘My feet are cold.’ I said, ‘Where are your shoes?’ She said she didn’t have any. I asked her if she wanted me to call the store manager. She said, ‘No,’ that she had walked a long way. Then she said she had to walk to Bi-Lo and meet someone in the parking lot.

“During the time we were talking, it appeared as though she didn’t want anything to do with my daughter or myself, as she kept looking at the wall, away from us.

“One of the outstanding things about her was that she had a wide mouth with thin lips. Her toenails were unpainted, as were her fingernails, and she had no facial makeup on. She was small framed, about 5’5”, possibly 150 pounds and almost flat-chested.

Both the mother and daughter made a positive ID of a photo of Beth van Zanten.


Given that troopers had already published Beth’s photo, as well as information about the coat she’d been wearing, and her missing boots, it was impossible to credit these two strangers with unique revelations, unknown to anyone but the cops. More perplexing was its eerie resemblance to the Tiki Room story told by Andrea Taggart and Louise Hawkins. Except… Andrea and Louise actually knew Beth van Zanten.


Purchase Butcher, Baker