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.
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.
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, 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.”
Lewiston 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.
Voss 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.
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