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'Happy Face' Serial Killer Victim Identified Nearly 30 Years After Her Murder

For decades, Patricia Skiple was known simply as "Blue Pacheco" because of the blue clothing she was found wearing when her remains were discovered in 1993 — even though serial killer Keith Jesperson confessed to her murder in 2006.

By Gina Tron
A side by side age progression of Patricia Skiple

Investigators have revealed the name of a heretofore unidentified victim of the “Happy Face Killer,” nearly 30 years after her murder.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department announced on Tuesday that, using genetic genealogy, they were able to identify a body found in 1993 as Patricia Skiple of Colton, Oregon. 

Skiple’s remains were found on the side of California State Route 152 in the Gilroy area — about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco — in June 1993, in an area known as Pacheco Pass.

“At the time of the incident, the female’s body was dressed in blue clothing and her identity was unknown,” they wrote. “Due to the unknown identity of the female adult, Cold Case Detectives later referred to Jane Doe as ‘Blue Pacheco.’” 

When an Oregon newspaper ran a five-part series called  “The Happy Face Serial Killer” in 1994, an anonymous author took credit for the five murders. That letter-writer turned out to be Keith Hunter Jesperson, who became known for signing the letters with a happy face symbol — thus the “Happy Face Killer” moniker. 

Investigators have confirmed that he killed at least 8 people, including the woman now known to be Skiple.

In 2006, the serial killer ”submitted a letter to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office admitting to sexually assaulting and killing an unknown female subject along a dirt turnout on Highway 152,” the department wrote in its release, and a year later he pled guilty to killing her.

In 2019, investigators began utilizing genetic genealogy in an attempt to identify “Blue Pacheco,” partnering with the nonprofit DNA Doe Project. They were able to identify her as Skiple on April 13.

Keith Jesperson

Skiple was known to family and friends as “Patsy,” according to the sheriff’s department. She was a mother and approximately 45 years old at the time she was killed.

While he has claimed to have killed many more people, officials can only confirm that Jesperson killed eight women between 1990 and 1995 in California, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska and Wyoming. He was caught after killing his 41-year-old girlfriend, Julie Ann Winningham, in 1995. 

Jesperson is serving four life sentences without possibility of parole in Oregon.