Unsolved: Camas killer ‘somebody neighborhood knew’

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CAMAS, Wash. (KOIN) — Could there be a killer living in Camas?

Skamania County detectives think there was in 1975 when a teenager was abducted and killed. Now they’re shedding new light on the cold case to finally try and crack it.

In 1975, 14-year-old Jo Carrol Sanders was living with her father not far from Forest Home Park on NW 7th Avenue, the last place she was seen alive.

For the first time, detectives confirm to KOIN 6 News Sanders was abducted, taken on Tuesday, July 6, 1975 in a yellow or green van.

“It may have been somebody this girl didn’t know, but it was somebody that the neighborhood knew,” Detective Sgt. Monty Buettner said. “It was a very tight-knit neighborhood.”

Her body was found 3 days later naked, bloody and in a gravel pit 700 feet off of Hwy 14, about 10 miles east of Camas in Skamania County near Cape Horn.

Former Skamania County detective Tim Garrity is in a long line of men who have tried to crack the case.

“After 18 years… it’s one of the major cases I think about and wish it had been solved, or if not prosecuted, that we had answers for the family,” Garrity said.

Longtime Sheriff Ray Blaisdell, who also worked on the case, died a few years ago. Buettner described the sheriff as a “tough man” but said this case “hurt him.”

Now, Buettner has pledged not to give up on the case, either. He’s hopeful there’s DNA on Sanders’ clothes that were found scattered along Hwy 14 or on the bloody rock that was next to her body.

“These types of cases are continually reviewed again just for the new technology that’s available and finding a possible suspect,” Buettner explained.

Based on his investigation, the detective said it’s clear Sanders put up a fight. He said the suspect likely killed her to prevent being caught for the crime.

“The person who did this was in fear it would be discovered if she walked away,” Buettner said. “I would think this wasn’t the first and probably not the last time they sexually assaulted an adult woman or child.”

Buettner said there weren’t any similar cases in the Camas area that year, but that doesn’t mean the suspect didn’t strike again somewhere else.

This year, Sanders would have turned 55. Although many years have passed since her death, she will always remain a memory in the minds of those who knew her.

The detective tells KOIN 6 News he isn’t giving up on Sanders’ case anytime soon.

“We’ve done a lot of work on it, but it’s not done yet,” he said.

If you have any information that could help in solving the case, call Buettner at 509.427.9490 or send him an email by clicking here.

 

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