SPOKANE, Wash. - Tuesday afternoon, after 24 long years, Donna Perry, suspected of killing three women in 1990, finally made an appearance in court.
Perry, suspected of killing Yolanda Sapp, Kathleen Brisbois and Nickie Lowe, was known as Douglas Perry until undergoing a sex change in Thailand in 2000. Detectives say they have DNA and fingerprints linking Perry to the murders.
Tuesday was an emotional day for Brisbois' family. They have been waiting for 24 years for a day like Tuesday, where a suspect would finally face a judge. They know it will be a long road ahead in court since the case is just in its early stages, but finally the Brisbois family feels some closure.
It almost was a question as to whether or not Perry would make her first court appearance, after apparently refusing to attend her court hearing scheduled for Monday. On Tuesday she agreed to come to court for the first appearance in the murders of Brisbois, Lowe and Sapp. The cases went cold for decades until detectives found a DNA match in 2012 after Perry had a DNA sample taken from her following her arrest on an unrelated federal firearms charge.
Among those in the courtroom Tuesday for Perry's hearing was Richard Brisbois, Kathleen's brother.
"We are all real happy to have some closure even after 24 years. It's been a long haul and a long time," he said.
The court appearance lasted just a few minutes, and Perry spent most of it looking down at the table in front of her.
"Even though it was a short blurp in setting the bail, it's an on-going process and it's going to take awhile," Brisbois said.
In court documents, Perry told detectives she had the sex change operation as a "permanent way to control any violence." She also said, "I'm not going to admit I killed anybody. I didn't. Donna has killed nobody."
When asked if Doug did, Perry said, "I don't know if Doug did or not. It was 20 years ago."
"It still brings tears to my eyes and my heart gets heavy when I think of my sister," Brisbois said. "I dearly loved my sister, and I miss her a lot, to have some closure eventually would be very nice."
Perry will remain in custody in the Spokane County Jail on a $1 Million bond. She is scheduled to be back in court to enter her pleas next week.
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