Missing Molalla woman identified as a victim of the ‘Happy Face Serial Killer’

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 6:34 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - It’s been nearly 30 years since 45-year-old Patricia Skiple went missing, but now her family has closure after the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office in California identified a body found along a highway road in 1993 as Skiple.

Skiple, known in her family as Patsy, left her home in Molalla in 1992 and never returned. For years, Skiple’s family wondered where she was and if she would return home. Then last week, detectives from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office paid her family a visit and told them she was found. They also said she was the latest victim of Keith Jesperson, also know as “The Happy Face Serial Killer.” The Sheriff’s Office credited the successful identification to DNA Doe Project, an organization that uses advanced genetic technology to solve cold cases.

“It take some time to solve and was one of our more challenging cases,” Carienn Binder, the educational and development director, said.

Since 2019, Binder and her team built Skiple’s family tree going all the way back to Norway in the 1700′s. Form there, Binder said they were able to match Skiple’s DNA with a nephew that still lives in Oregon. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Skiple was a body  of an unidentified woman found along Highway 152 in Gilroy California.

“This is a victim of a violent crime and I’m sure that’s not the outcome that the family was hoping for,” Binder said. “So, it’s also heart breaking to know that while you’re providing them the answers about what happened. You’re also providing a story that should not have been the ending for this person.”

Jesperson admitted to sexually assault and killing Skiple in 2006 and plead guilty in 2007. Investigators said he sexually assaulted and killed Skiple, like he did to seven other woman in the 1990′s. He’s currently sitting in the Oregon State Penitentiary serving multiple life sentences.

For Binder, she said her team will continue to work to bring answers to family that have been waiting years to find out what has happened to their loved ones.

“The Does deserve to have their names back,” Binder said. “They’re humans, they have families, they have names, they have stories being a part of that and allowing them to share their story from the beyond, is really important to our mission.”

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference in San Jose, California with the lead investigator on Tuesday about this case.