Recently discovered DNA evidence links a suspected serial killer to two victims in a trio of cold case homicides that have gone unsolved for more than two decades.
The three women, Yolanda Sapp, Nickie Lowe and Kathleen Brisbois were shot to death and their bodies were dumped near the Spokane River and investigators say Donna Perry is responsible for the trio of killings between February and May 1990. Perry, originally known as Douglas Perry, underwent gender reassignment surgery in Thailand in 2000.
Yolanda Sapp was found dead with three small caliber gunshot wounds in the 4100 block of East Upriver Drive on Feb. 22, 1990. Nickie Lowe's remains were found with one gunshot wound in the 3200 block of South Riverton on March 25. Kathleen Brisbois was found dead with three gunshot wounds along the Spokane River, near Trent Avenue and Pines Road, on May 15.
There was a common scheme in the killings in that all three victims were known prostitutes, all three used drugs and they were all killed with a small caliber handgun.
After Perry's 2012 arrest by the ATF on federal firearms charges, a DNA sample taken from her was eventually placed into the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), a database of DNA collected from convicted offenders, and Perry's DNA was a positive match to DNA evidence found by investigators underneath Kathy Brisbois' fingernails.
In late 2012 detectives were also able to track down a 1969 International Scout owned by Perry at the time of the killings to its current owner and were able to search the vehicle. Among the items of evidence collected from the vehicle was a single unspent .22 caliber bullet, the same caliber bullet used in the killings of Brisbois, Lowe and Sapp.
More recently, a forensic scientist at the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab in Cheney has found more DNA evidence that allegedly links Perry to the murders of Sapp and Lowe.
"With the evidence that was submitted, there were fingerprints on a bottle of lubricant that was in Nickie Lowe's purse which matched Donna Perry's, and also a blanket that was submitted that was in Yolanda Sapp's property. DNA was found in that blanket that also matched Donna Perry," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said Thursday.
Perry is currently serving time in a federal prison in Texas on firearms charges from her 2012 arrest. Perry was not allowed to have weapons or ammunition due to a string of arrests and convictions for assault and weapons charges between 1974 and 1988.
Prior to the 2012 ATF raid on Perry's home, she had been arrested for possession of firearms in 1988 and 1994. During the search of her home following her 1994 arrest, authorities seized .22 caliber handguns..
Perry's sentence on her most recent firearms conviction will conclude on March 6, but because she's been charged with three murders in Spokane, Perry will be transferred from federal custody to the Tarrant County Jail in Ft. Worth. At that point Spokane prosecutors will then begin the process of extraditing Perry back to Washington State to stand trial for Brisbois, Lowe and Sapp's murders.