Trial begins Monday for former Pasco officer accused of killing Spokane woman in 1986

SPOKANE, Wash. — The trial for a former Pasco officer accused of murdering a Spokane woman decades ago will begin on Monday. 

Richard Aguirre faces a first-degree murder charge for Ruby Doss’ death in 1986. 

Court records show Doss was strangled and her body was found next to a building in east Spokane. At the time, Doss was a sex worker going by the street name “Memphis.” 

A passerby found her body and called the police. When they arrived, officers determined she had not been dead for very long. 

Detectives tracked footprints from a nearby manure pit where a sexual encounter between Doss and her killer likely took place. 

Detectives found boot impressions, leading them to believe Doss had tried to get away, but was chased down by her killer. Court records show she had been hit in the back of the head, then strangled. 

As part of their investigation, detectives found Doss’ coat, wig and earrings buried in the manure pit nearby. That’s where they believe the sexual encounter took place. Police also found a steak knife nearby, along with a used condom. 

In 1989, detectives sent the condom to a lab in New York where DNA was collected. In 2001, the DNA sample was submitted to a lab in Virginia, which was able to create a profile, but there were no matches in the nationwide database. 

The break in the case came in 2015, when a forensic scientist in the Washington State Patrol lab matched the DNA to a profile submitted in Pasco. That DNA belonged to Aguirre, who had resigned from the Pasco Police Department and was under investigation for raping a family member. He was later found innocent of raping his niece in Franklin County. 

Court records show Aguirre was stationed at Fairchild Air Force base from 1984-1988. During their investigation, police tracked down friends and family of Aguirre, who said he used to visit strip clubs and pick up prostitutes on East Sprague. 

One man told police that “after a night of drinking, Aguirre admitted that he ‘hit a woman in the head’ and ‘choked her.’” The friend said Aguirre told him he thought the woman was still moving when he walked away.

Police also questioned Aguirre’s sisters, who said he told them he remembered having an encounter with a girl during that time, but didn’t know if she was a prostitute and wasn’t sure if it was Doss.

The charges against Aguirre were dropped in 2017 due to “significant evidentiary issues,” but he was charged once again in 2020. 

His new trial begins Monday in Spokane.  

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