SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Police and the Spokane Medical Examiner's Office identified a body related to a cold case dating back to 1984.
Police say two fishermen found a nude female body on June 20, 1984, on the south shore of the Spokane River with her hands and feet cut off and her head decapitated. No one identified the body and there were no females matching the description from the Medical Examiners description reported missing at the time of this discovery.
A skull was found in an empty lot at 7th and Sherman in April 1998. Police say investigators thought that skill belonged to the body, and with tips and leads coming in, they couldn't viably identify the person. Three years later, the skull matched the torso found in 1984. However, DNA was uploaded to a DNA index system that records samples from other offenders, crime scenes and missing persons, and there was no match.
Years went by, yet no one knew who "Millie" was, or who tried to kill her. The woman was named "Millie" after the daughter of an SPD detective said, "no one deserves to not have a name."
Investigators continued to re-examine the case trying to find out Millie's true identity, and in 2002, forensic drawing and facial reconstruction of the skull helped with the investigation.
In 2007, Millie's information was uploaded to a missing and identified persons system, and she still went unidentified.
That would all change this past February.
In September 2021, SPD sent DNA samples to a company that specializes in working with degraded samples. The samples were from Millie's torso which was buried in a local cemetery. The company SPD used was the same one used to solve the 1959 Candy Rogers murder case in 2021.
The company, Othram, was able to create a DNA profile on Millie, giving a list of potential family members. Detectives contacted a family member in Spokane who provided DNA to help with the investigation.
The DNA sample helped investigators locate a public record of two sisters, which said Millie could be one of the two sisters. Initial information appeared that both sisters were dead.
However, a deputy medicolegal death investigator with the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office found the younger sister alive in the Midwest.
Deputies with the Oklahoma City Police Department Cold Case Unit found her, where she provided DNA as well.
Othram confirmed the two were sisters, identifying "Millie" as Ruth Belle Waymire, born in 1960.
SPD says Ruth went to Rogers High School. Her parents got divorced when she was young, and her mother and sister moved in with a local family in Spokane. Shortly after they moved, the mother died and the two sisters went their separate ways, not staying in contact with each other.
SPD says Ruth was never reported missing and was described to have a "vagabond lifestyle," spending time in Wenatchee and Spokane. Police say she would have been 24-years-old at the time of her death and was married to a second husband. An autopsy revealed she had a child a year or two before she died.
SPD says her killer has not been definitively identified. At the time of her death, her husband was Trampas D.L. Vaughn, who was born in 1945. Police say Vaughn was born in Iowa and spent time in prison before moving to the Inland Northwest, marrying Ruth in Wenatchee.
Police say there is no record of a divorce between the two, and their child is unidentified right now also.
Police say Vaugh died in California in 2017, but they have not ruled him out as a suspect.
No other suspects have been identified, SPD says. This includes her first husband, who SPD says lives in Spokane and is working with investigators.
SPD and investigators ask anyone who knew Ruth, her husbands, and/or a child/children born to Ruth to contact them through Crime Check at 509-456-2233.
"SPD and the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office would like to thank Othram, King County Medical Examiner’s Office, Dr. Christopher Casserino, Dr. Gary Bell, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma City Police Department, Keokuk Police Department and Ruth’s relatives for sharing their DNA and family history to help solve this 39-year-old case," SPD said in a news release Wednesday.
COPYRIGHT 2023 BY KXLY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.
Vincent Saglimbeni joined the 4 News Now team full time in April 2022 as a digital content producer. Vinny grew up in San Jose, California before graduating from Gonzaga University in May of 2022, studying journalism and minoring in broadcasting during his four years there. In his final semester at Gonzaga, Vinny was the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, The Gonzaga Bulletin. Before officially joining 4 News Now, Vinny spent the summer of 2021 interning with 4 News Now. When he is not in the newsroom, you can find him gaming, playing sports, throwing pizza dough and making pizza for his friends and family or cheering on/anxiously watching — depending on who you ask — his favorite Bay Area sports teams (sorry, Seahawks fans). You can find Vinny on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with any news tips!