TACOMA, WA — The discovery of a partial human skull last month in a wooded area in East Pierce County, Washington, has reignited police interest in some long unsolved missing persons cases — including the possibility that they may be dealing with a serial killer.
Investigators have not yet determined if the skull fragment is from a man or a woman, but either way, the finding has prompted them to take another look at the case files of five women who disappeared from Tacoma between 1994 and 2010.
All of the women were reportedly involved in prostitution in the areas around Puyallup Avenue and in downtown Tacoma.
“I can’t say that we have any evidence linking these five cases together, but it’s certainly possible that one or more of these women were victims of some serial offender who may be in prison already or may be in custody for another crime, or it could be somebody that we don’t know about yet,” Detective Lindsey Wade of Tacoma Police told 13 FOX News.
The victims who disappeared and were reported missing or kidnapped with evidence of foul play include 17-year-old Tami Kowalchuk, who vanished after a night out on December 26, 1999. Kowalchuk told her mother that she was going out with friends, but she never came home.
Other missing women include Helen Tucker, 27, who disappeared in 1994, Debra Honey, who has been missing since 2002, and 16-year-old Jennifer Enyart. Enyart had run away from her home in Spokane to Seattle where police picked her up for prostitution. Her parents came and picked her up on September 21, 2000 — but on the ride home, Enyart jumped out of the car at a gas station near Spokane and fled. Her family never saw her again.
The most recent of these disappearances was Danielle Mouton, who was reportedly involved in prostitution and drugs when she disappeared from Tacoma in 2010 at the age of 24. She left behind a young daughter, and her family is still holding out hope that someone may come forward with helpful information.
Helen Tucker’s case was originally assigned to the Green River Killer Task Force, but the investigators were able to rule out Gary Ridgway as a suspect in her case. However, police say that the cannot eliminate Ridgway as a suspect in all of the missing women’s cases, since he was still active at the time of some of their disappearances.
Investigators are hoping to talk to anyone who knew the women or teens or who they associated with at the time they went missing — and stress that any detail, however small, could be important to the case.
They ask anyone with any information about the women to contact Tacoma Police or the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit at 1 (800) 543-5678 or email them at MUPU@WSP.WA.GOV
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Main photo: The missing Tacoma women (left to right) Debra Honey, Tami Kowalchuk, Danielle Mouton, Jennifer Enyart and Helen Tucker [Q13 FOX (screenshot)] Background: Photo of downtown Tacoma [Wikimedia Commons]