November 14, 2008 - 10:00 pm
Police are investigating whether several young prostitutes working in the Las Vegas Valley might have been slain by the same person, possibly a truck driver.
Las Vegas police Lt. Lew Roberts said authorities are investigating the possibility, but he was unavailable for further comment.
In three cases, a dismembered body was found in trash bags along highways in California, Nevada or Illinois.
A fourth case matches the same profile as the others — that of a young, attractive white woman who had fallen into prostitution.
Law enforcement officials stressed that a truck driver serial killer is, at this point, a theory.
“It’s a theory that’s been looked at, but until we get something more, it’s just a theory,” said North Las Vegas police Sgt. Justin Ryan.
Sgt. Tom Bradford of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office in California said the theory wasn’t new.
“We thought that was a possibility, anyway, but we don’t have any person as a suspect,” Bradford said.
Law enforcement officials indicated they were looking at possible links among several cases:
• Jodi Brewer, 19, disappeared from Las Vegas in August 2003. Her torso was wrapped in plastic and a sheet and was found later that month in the desert near the Interstate 15 offramp to Cima Road , about 25 miles south of the Nevada-California border.
• Jessica Foster, 21, was last seen in North Las Vegas between late March and early April 2006, according to a Web site set up in her memory. She has not been found.
• Lindsay Harris, 21, disappeared from Henderson on May 4, 2005. Nineteen days later, her legs were found in a grassy area a few hundred yards off of Interstate 55, about 15 miles south of Springfield, Ill. Investigators didn’t identify the remains until this year.
A fourth case that might be linked, that of 25-year-old Misty Saens, has been identified by “America’s Most Wanted,” which is profiling the cases in an episode to air this Saturday.
Partial remains of Saens, 25, was found by two bikers in the desert off of State Route 159, the road that leads to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
The partial remains were found wrapped in plastic and a cloth sheet on March 6, 2003, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.
Investigators have had few clues to go on. Boyfriends who doubled as pimps for some of the women are not being named as suspects.
A lieutenant with the Illinois State Police, who are handling Harris’ case because her remains were found in their jurisdiction, said they still don’t have any suspects.
North Las Vegas’ Ryan said because Foster’s body has not been found, “It’s still just a missing person case.”
Las Vegas police weren’t able to comment on the case Thursday because of what a department spokesman described as an “extraordinarily high amount of activity” for the homicide unit in the past few days.
Pamela Brewer, the mother of Jodi Brewer, said she had heard from law enforcement officials that her daughter’s death might be linked to the other cases.
“I feel wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” Pamela Brewer said about the development in the case. “It’s been five years. I think the only way they could have found justice in this case is if they linked her case to other cases.”
Glendene Grant, Foster’s mother, said from Canada that she believed her daughter was still alive and hadn’t been abducted because all of her things were taken from her North Las Vegas house.
“How did all of Jessie’s things go missing if somebody took her?” she said.
In addition to having fallen into prostitution, the young women share other similarities, according to “America’s Most Wanted.”
All were between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall. Three had dyed-blonde hair. Three of them had the middle name of “Marie.”
Grant said she originally believed her daughter’s case was closely related to Harris’. The two women were the same age, pretty, and not originally from Las Vegas.
“Her story, her descriptions, are just so similar to Lindsay’s,” Grant said.
Grant believed so strongly that the cases were linked that she got in touch with Harris’ parents in the small town of Skaneateles, N.Y.. She has continued to keep in touch with them, as well as with the family members of the other two missing women.
Foster, a native of Canada, had been an honor roll student through most of high school and had never gotten into trouble before, Grant said.
In 2005, she went on a vacation with a boyfriend who took her to Florida, New York and New Jersey.
She moved to Las Vegas with a friend and fell into prostitution with a new boyfriend. She was arrested twice for prostitution in 2005, according to the Web site set up in her memory.
Harris had followed a similar path, moving with a boyfriend from New York to Henderson and being arrested for prostitution five times by Las Vegas police.
“I know that Lindsay’s mother and myself believe that our children were brainwashed into, or were forced into becoming, prostitutes,” Grant said.
That was not the case for Jodi Brewer, who fell into prostitution at 17, her mother said. She struggled in school but eventually earned her general education degree and a grant to go to beauty school.
“She was into hair and makeup and was real bubbly,” Pamela Brewer said.
When Jodi Brewer lost her school grant, she fell back into prostitution. When Brewer turned 19, Pamela Brewer filed a missing person report, and 14 days later her daughter’s remains were found in Southern California.
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.