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DNA Identifies Oregon Serial Killer As Man Who Died By Suicide in 1988

John Charles Bolsinger, who died shortly after the final murder, has been identified as the man who killed a string of women in Oregon in the 1980s — years after he was convicted of a first murder.

By Gina Tron
John Charles Bolsinger Pd

Police in Oregon say they have identified the serial killer responsible for killing three women in the 1980s.

Using DNA technology, the Eugene Police Department has pinpointed John Charles Bolsinger — who died by suicide in 1988 at age 31 — as the man who killed May Hensley, 62, and  Janice Marie Dickinson, 33, in 1986 as well as 73-year-old Geraldine Spencer Toohey in 1988.

It has been a long road to identity the women's killer.

“Several persons of interest were developed and thoroughly investigated over the years — and were excluded through DNA comparison,” the police department stated in a Wednesday press release, noting that “all three cases lacked any strong leads.”

In 2016, they worked with Parabon Nano Labs to create physical characteristics of suspects based on DNA information, also called snapshot phenotyping. By 2017, Eugene Police investigators received the results, which they released to the public in hopes of new leads but it didn’t get anywhere in this case. 

Then, in 2018, they utilized Parabon’s now-infamous genetic genealogy, which was credited for catching the Golden State Killer. The technology narrowed down the suspects to four and, through the analysis of additional evidence, the sole suspect was identified as Bolsinger.

Bolsinger had been accused of murder before: In Salt Lake City, Utah in 1980, he was arrested of killing of 33-year-old Kaysie Sorensen. According to court records, Sorensen was found dead with a clock-radio cord around her throat. Bolsinger claimed he asphyxiated her consensually and panicked when she died. He was convicted of second-degree murder and served a five-year prison sentence before being paroled to Springfield, Oregon in 1986. 

About three months later, the other murders began.

Hensley was found dead in her apartment in June of 1986 during a welfare check. Two weeks later, Dickinson was found murdered behind a car dealership. She was naked and had been sexually assaulted.

In September 1986, Bolsinger was arrested for a break-in and sentenced to another five years in prison, but was released on parole in 1987. 

Soon after that, in February 1988, Toohey was murdered. Like Hensley, she was found in her apartment, had been sexually assaulted and there was evidence of forced entry into the residence. In March of 1988, a month after her murder, police released a sketch of the suspect. 

Geraldine Toohey, Gladys Hensley, Janice Dickisnson

Weeks after that, Bolsinger was discovered dead in his own apartment by suicide.

“The Eugene Police Department and the Oregon State Police are pleased to finally bring closure to the family members of Gladys, Janice, and Geraldine, as well as our community,” police stated on Wednesday. “Both agencies remain committed to constantly evaluating unsolved cases and utilizing emerging technologies to bring closure to other families of crime victims. “