by JJ Rogers

I was born in Clarkston, Washington and grew up across the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho.  The two cities are located in a deep valley at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers.  They are not large cities and they didn’t traditionally experience the horrors of serial killers that metropoleis are known for.  That is, until the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was in my teens. That’s when everything changed.  That’s when one man, filled with loathing and complete disregard for human life, selected a series of girls and young women as the objects of his dark desires.

Every spring the Valley filled with excitement in anticipation of the Asotin County Fair, which was held on the Snake River just north of both cities. Everyone who possibly could attended. It was April 28, 1979. I was there. So was Christina White, a 12-year-old child.

Christina White and older woman -- probably her mother

Christina White and older woman — probably her mother

At some point during the day Christina felt ill from the early spring heat, and her mother suggested she get a damp towel to cool herself down.  Christina went to her friend’s house, where she was apparently given a wet towel and also used the phone.  She reportedly called her mother, but no one knows what was said. After that, Christina was never seen again.  No one saw her leave the house at 503 2nd Avenue — she simply vanished.  The home belonged to Patricia Brennan, Lance Voss’s girlfriend.  Lance and Patricia were married 26 months later on July 24, 1981.

For the next two years the rumors concerning Christina White’s death swirled like eddies in the mighty Snake River. These rumors created fear in our closely connected region of small towns and cities. For the first time in our lives, our parents admonished us not to walk alone and began locking our doors, even in the daytime.

Kristen David

Kristen David

Then it happened again. It was unthinkable but it happened. On June 26, 1981, 22-year-old Kristen David vanished while riding her bike between Moscow and Lewiston-Clarkston.  About a week later, the dismembered body of the 22-year-old University of Idaho student was found in the Snake River. The rumors spread fast that her dismembered body parts were found in plastic bags floating down the river.

Then in September 1982 it happened a third time. Three people turned up missing who were last seen at, or near, the Lewiston Civic Theatre, where Kristen David, the dismembered biker, had once worked. These three victims were 21-year-old Kristina Nelson, her stepsister, 18-year-old Brandi Miller and Former Air Force Cpl. Steven Pearsall who was 35.

On her last evening on earth, Sept. 12, 1982, Kristina left a note in her apartment for her boyfriend indicating that she and Brandi were going downtown to do some grocery shopping at the Safeway store.  A logical route downtown would have taken them by the Civic Theatre.

Steven Pearsall

Steven Pearsall

Steven Pearsall, 35, worked as a janitor there — he and Lance Voss had recently helped build a pirate ship that rolled on a dolly complete with several ropes for actors playing pirates to slide down.  Steven’s girlfriend dropped him off at the theater around midnight on Sept. 12th. Steven’s plan was to practice his music.  He may have walked in while Kristina and Brandi were being attacked. Steven was never seen again, nor was he ever considered a suspect. He is presumed dead.

The bodies of stepsisters Kristina Nelson and Brandi Miller were found 18 months later in March of 1984 at the bottom of a steep embankment near the community of Kendrick, along with rope that is presumed to have been “borrowed” from the Civic Theater’s pirate ship that Steven and Lance had built together.

The authorities noted that three of the four female victims had similar names: Kristin, Christina and Kristina, and that all three were about the same height.

One person of interest was interrogated by the police, twice. That person of interest was Lance Jeffrey Voss, a big man standing 6’ 5” and weighing roughly 200 lbs. Voss was not only seen at the theater, but actually admitted to being there at the time of the murders, working on the pirate ship for the play with the missing Steven. Voss had also, of course, dated (and later married) Patricia Brennan, the owner the house on 2nd Avenue where the 12-year-old Asotin girl, Christina White, was last seen alive. In addition, Voss admitted that he often drove the same route taken by 22-year-old Kristen David when she met her grisly fate.

Lance is quoted as stating, “I was in the theater, but asleep; yes, I just saw Kristina.” 

jeff2Lewiston authorities believe the same person killed Christina White, Kristin David, Kristina Nelson, Brandy Miller, and Steven Pearsall.  One Lewiston Police Captain went as far as to say he’s “99 percent certain” who the killer is.  But law enforcement doesn’t believe they can prove who the killer is in a court of law. Lance Jeffrey Voss moved back to the East Coast and no similar murders have occurred since he left town. It’s no secret that authorities want to bring formal charges against him, but to this day, they have taken no action.

jeffVoss is a self-proclaimed survivalist who enjoys listening to Rush Limbaugh.  Here is a quote by Voss that I came across while I was researching the case. Hunting is of course very popular in our part of the world but Voss’s quote is certainly not something we would expect a hunter to say:

“By the way, don’t neglect edged tools/weapons in your survival kit.  After you’ve shot your dinner rabbit, preparation is much easier if you don’t have to gut it with a rock.  It can be done, but it’s not fun.”

This case is still open and surfaces from time to time in the Valley. Many of us grew up hearing, telling and re-telling this awful tale and much as we would like to, these are murders we cannot forget.

 

31 Responses to Murder Stories I Can Never Forget: Snake River Serial Killer Still at Large?

  1. Lise Lasalle says:

    Well done! A Lewiston Police Captain said he was 99% certain who the killer was but no arrest was made. Puzzling. They usually go after people with much lower odds.
    I wonder what the 1% was….

    I hope Voss stays underground and as far away as possible from other human beings. May the voice of Limbaugh guide him towards total obscurity.
    Let’s hope it won’t take another crime to give them their 1%.

  2. Lianne Loo says:

    I find it fascinating, JJ, that I recognize all these serial killers of whom you have written – but from the other side of the state, where they were reported but lacked the ‘local’ feel that would have given them a personal connection. Your presence in the time and place where these heinous events transpired makes your stories reach out and touch the place in each of us that shivers in the dark when an unknown sound wakes us from sleep…

  3. Cassie Stricker says:

    Just a note for your report, i believe the Christina White picture of the older women is an age progression of Christina, that are quite common with the missing and exploited children bored located all over America…i recognize the logo from my time working at walmart when on my breaks I would stair at the many faces of missing children! the smile the eyes are the same and like i mentioned the logo in the corner…i loved your writing and think it brings light to a story not many people speak of any more…at least of my generation…as a graduate of the LHS class of 2007 i had never really heard of the murders…it wasn’t till my ex-husband was in a civic play that i really heard anything about it…i believe this is a great way to bring light to things that happened in the past…great work!

    • cindy says:

      It is an age progression…make me wonder what else he got wrong in his report. I Know what Christine’s mom looks like and… yea big fail

  4. Gloria Bobertz says:

    I am a family member of one of the victims, Kristina Nelson. In the very near future these cases will be getting more exposure and perhaps the tip needed to get justice.

    • cindy says:

      family member of christine white..I never knew her, yet she is my stepsister so i will continue to make sure there is exposure, know we will not forget or go away

  5. dave says:

    I met him and lived beneath the dome house till he got out of town. I went to an open house before he got all his stuff out and it was unreal most of the stuff was still there but one room was cleaned out pretty good except for a mattress covered up in plastic leaning up against the wall and a wad of cables (video) coming out of the ceiling corner and the room was painted black walls and blue ceiling and stars and moons I think it was very strange along with the rest of the house and in the living room there were special books doctor books, surgical books. Sounds unreal but I saw it and I was not alone I had two other people with me. I did tell this to other people 20 or so years ago.

  6. dave says:

    I see now my comment is pretty cold to the families I am very sorry I hate to hang someone with out a trial but there are just to many times he seems to be right there, in the right town, at the right place and at the right time, I think they should go threw that house one more time

  7. Dave Townsend says:

    I didn’t want to leave my last name but I guess it won’t make a difference

  8. Dave Townsend says:

    I’m still living here and still telling what I saw my ex would probably remember the dates

  9. Dave Townsend says:

    now that its brought up again has anyone eles heard about his problems in Portland I think? Sneaking around a morturary should be a police report on that I think he was arrested I heard that from a sheriff, if that is true it should be easy to check, and they still don’t have enough, he just might take it to the grave, but he’ll still burn in hell. ok I’m done just getten pissed

    • Richard says:

      I just did some research on Lance Jeffrey Voss and found he has plead guilty to a 2004 murder of a 12 year old girl in Indiana. Prior to this he had spent 12 years of a 30 year prison sentence for robbery. The girl he murdered in Indiana was named Christina Tedder. Thought you guys would find this interesting.

      • Anonymous says:

        Richard- I know it seems oddly coincidental, but could that be another Lance Jeffrey Voss? I thought the one involved in these murders has been living in Charlotte, NC?

        • A different Lance Voss killed Christina Tedder. Lance Jeffrey Voss moved to Charlotte NC, then Mint Hill, NC. They need to look at the old evidence in light of new advances in technology, including DNA. Also, Dave is right…they should reexamine that old mattress and anything associated with Lance Jeffrey Voss. The theatre involved in the 3 missing persons (2 murdered women and missing man) should DO THE RIGHT THING AND ALLOW RE-SEARCH for Steven Pearsall….

          • Big Bear says:

            I believe the same unknown subject who committed the murders in Lewiston was responsible for three disappearances in the Coeur d’Alene/Spokane area in 1986-7. Debra Swanson (vanished off Coeur d’Alene’s popular Tubbs Hill) Sally Stone and Julie Weflen at a substation near Spokane.

  10. Has the Lewis Civic theatre allowed infra-red exam of the floor to search for the body of Steven Pearsall? Family of this victim have proposed this but turned down by the theatre.

    • cindy says:

      Wait… the lewis civic theatre turned down trying to find an employee.. why would they turn down the infra red exam? Does it cost them money?

  11. Novatrax says:

    I also was a young teenager born and living in Lewiston/Clarkston when this occurred. It has haunted me from time to time since it first occurred, even to this day, that’s why I came across this blog as I check in on any progress from time to time. It’s been more personal for me as my father was a career policeman for the LPD (retired) and was on the team that worked on this case at the time, it has bothered him to this day. He talks about it once in awhile and has told me what they found, evidence, why they know it was Voss, why they couldn’t get a judge to agree, and things behind the case that are not public knowledge. By the way, folks that posted that the police are 99% sure are correct, it may even be 99.5% sure – there’s no coincidence at all that this jerkoff was ALWAYS related in some way to EVERY victim by people he was near or locations he frequented – AND that the names were all similar (Pearsall walked in on Voss and as a result became an unplanned victim). This is not rocket science, it’s plain as day. Also, there is evidence and clues that are never released to the public in any murder investigation – this ‘non-public’ evidence also points to you guessed it. There’s more to this and why he escaped justice – convictions were dealt out in cases with much less evidence, why not on this one?! Please know that the police that worked on this case (the ones who are still alive) will ALWAYS be bothered by this, they KNOW who did it, they had an almost lock-tight case with more evidence than is ever needed to convict in cases today, but they weren’t allowed to put this guy away…

    • PatrickHMoore says:

      Why were they not allowed to put him way? That’s the $64,000 question.

    • Dena says:

      I am also a distant family relative of Kristina Nelson and understand that there is quite a bit of evidence that was not released to the public back at the time of the murders; however, what I still don’t understand is if a judge won’t agree then, who’s to say a judge now won’t agree??? I was a little girl when this happened and I an saddened that although there is a TON of information that POINTS to the ONLY PERSON OF INTEREST, how can we not get justice NOW???

      Novatrax, is your father willing to discuss this case with some of us family members in more detail?

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    I think that people from that area need to keep talking about these cases on here and maybe a clue might be dropped and picked up by the police. The more it’s talked about, the higher chance of something coming to light, and maybe putting Lance Jeffrey Voss away for good.

    http://www.topix.com/forum/city/stites-id/TJKM239OFR5GFNSB1/p35

  13. Perplexed says:

    What does listing to Rush Limbaugh have to do with any of this? Way to throw your political ideology into the mix.

    • Lori says:

      “Voss is a self-proclaimed survivalist who enjoys listening to Rush Limbaugh.”

      This was the only sentence I could find mentioning Limbaugh. I am missing the author’s political ideology being thrown about. This sentence sounds like a descriptor of Voss’ known behaviors.

      Excellent article and fascinating but disturbing outcome so far…Thank you J.J. Please keep us informed if there are any breaks in this case.

      Although I have no idea of the author’s personal political opinions, I agree with you perplexed, Limbaugh is an extremist of the worst sort. That is what you meant, right?

  14. cindy says:

    Sadly Betty White mother of Christina passed away Sept 26th without knowing what happened to her daughter.

  15. cindy says:

    At the end of the movie confluence ….she said closure, I don’t know what closure is… I hope as she goes to heaven she can get the closure and the answers she has waited for 33yrs.

  16. ayanami88 says:

    an older woman – probably her mother

    its an age progression of what she would look like if she were alive today. the fact that you dont know this makes me doubt the other imformation in this article. i found that out in about 3 minutes. just fyi.

  17. Big Bear says:

    USA Today ran an article on the Hannah Graham case. Evidence seems to point to a serial killer operating in Virginia for the last ten years. The article aims at suspect Jesse Matthew, but 10 years, Virginia, North Carolina. Close proximity…

  18. determined to convict says:

    Hi there. I have been following the Civic theatre cases, as well as the 2 others LJV is thought to have committed. He is now in N.C. where a woman disappeared within a few miles of his house in 2012. Found in a pond. Sounds like the woman who was found in the ocean (Whose tomb/mortuary LJV was convicted of breaking into many, many years ago). I don’t understand why police are not pursuing LJV for past, and possibly recent crimes. What will it take to get his DNA to the police? He has likely committed many more crimes, for which DNA could already be in the possession of police…

  19. W Williams says:

    Couple o’ things:

    1- no judge approves prosecution… a DA does. As a potential overseer, a judge must be neutral and uninvolved; hence the blindfold.

    2- the Limbaugh comments are ludicrous, and undermine the credibility of those making them.

    I feel for the families of the victims. But this is America, and this man stands innocent… until proven guilty, and perhaps the reason no case has been made is because he’s innocent.

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