The Serial Killer From Lewis-Clark Valley
In April of 1979, 12-year-old Christina White went missing from Asotin, Washington. She had just been to the annual county fair but had telephoned her mother at home to say that she wasn’t feeling well. Her mother agreed to pick her up at the bottom of the hill near her friend’s house, but when she arrived, Christina was nowhere to be found.
What is rumored is that Christina had hopped on her bike and gone to a friend’s home to ask for a wet washcloth to put on her neck. According to internet sources, 25-year-old Lance Voss answered the door (Christina’s friend was out back washing the dogs). Then Christina took off on her bicycle…never to be seen again.
However, the truth of the interaction is different. Apparently, Christina arrived at the house and was there with her friend and Mr. Voss for a time. It was then that she began feeling sick and called her mother. Unfortunately, her mother couldn’t pick her up before Christina’s friend had to leave to prep a horse she had registered in the fair. After that, Christina vanished.
On June 26th of 1981, 22-year-old Kristen David – an avid bicyclist – went missing from the Lewiston, Washington area. She had been traveling to her summer job at a factory (during the school year, she sometimes worked at the Lewiston Civic Theatre). Several days later, on July 4th, some fishermen near the Red Wolf Crossing Bridge found a floating black plastic bag. Inside of it they found a woman’s torso and a leg. They called the police to the scene, who immediately found more plastic bags containing more body parts. The body was that of Kristen David, who had last been seen cycling down the road, and perhaps stopped to talk to a man in a van – but witnesses couldn’t be sure.
On September 12th, 1982, 21-year-old Kristina Nelson and her 18-year-old stepsister, Brandi Miller left home to go to the nearby Safeway (grocery) store. Kristina had even left a note on her door for her boyfriend, telling him to go inside because she would be right back. But when neither girl showed up by the next morning, Kristina’s boyfriend called the police and reported them both missing. One year later, two sets of skeletal remains were found at the bottom of a steep ravine near Kendrick, Idaho. They were identified as Kristina and Brandi. Their clothing and a piece of severed rope was found nearby.
Also on September 12th, 1982, 35-year-old Steven Pearsall went missing from the Lewiston Civic Theatre, where he had gone to practice his clarinet and do some of his laundry in the theatre’s machines. Pearsall worked at the theatre as a janitor and set-builder. Notably, victims Kristina Nelson and Brandi Miller also worked at the theatre part-time, as they both attended college at Lewis-Clark State.
One more “coincidence” that cannot be ignored is that there was one additional person who worked regularly at the Lewiston Civic Theatre: Lance Voss. AND, Voss admitted to being the final person to see little 12-year-old Christina White alive.
This is definitely a conundrum of a case. Though it seems probable – even extremely likely – that Lance Voss is the killer, it remains to be seen whether or not he was the murderer of the victims in question. Let’s go through the arguments for and against this suspect being “the one.”
CHRISTINA WHITE – Argument for: When 12-year-old Christina White disappeared, Voss was 25-years-old. Therefore, he was young, but not so young as to be inexperienced. Many serial killers have committed a murder by this age. Additionally, Christina was a particularly vulnerable victim. She was young, overweight, and not feeling well. Then, suddenly, she was alone in the house with Voss. She would’ve likely been easy to overpower or coerce/manipulate in that state, and she would’ve been likely to automatically trust the stepfather of her young friend. Thus, Christina White would’ve been a victim who was easier to control, overpower, and kill than an adult. Voss could’ve seen the opportunity and took it.
Argument against: It was still an extremely risky abduction/killing, considering it would’ve occurred in the middle of the day, in a neighborhood. Additionally, Christina had already called her mother, who was expecting her to show up at the bottom of the hill at any moment. Abducting, killing, and hiding Christina’s body (and bicycle) had to take some time. Voss would have to have been either very bold, or very impulsive to have done this mid-day in a bustling town/neighborhood.
KRISTEN DAVID – Argument for: Voss admitted to frequently driving the same stretch of road that Kristen David used to bike to work. The two were known to each other, since both worked at the theatre.
Argument against: Voss did not own a brown or tan van, which is what witnesses described in their last sightings of Kristen. Additionally, Voss is a large man, standing nearly 6’5″ tall. It seems a bit unlikely that witnesses wouldn’t have noticed the stature of the man (who was seen outside the van in some reports), in comparison to Kristen. Additionally, the body being disposed of in such a way (dismembered and put in bags) is quite a departure from later crimes, where the bodies were found intact. It’s rare for a killer to vary their MO quite this much. So, while it’s possible that Ms. David was murdered by the same person that killed the other victims, the odds are more in favor of her murder having been committed by a different killer altogether.
KRISTINA NELSON and BRANDI MILLER – Argument for: The girls had to walk past the theatre the evening they went missing, on their way to Safeway. It seems natural that they may have stopped there, especially if summoned by Voss, a person that they probably both knew (even if distantly). Additionally, when the girls were found, a piece of rope was found near their bodies. It was traced back to a prop ship that was being built for a production of The Pirates of Penzance at the theatre. Voss had been one of the people working on the ship. Voss also admits to having been at the theatre “all night” (claiming he slept on the couch in the green room) the evening the girls vanished. It seems likely that he easily could have lured them in by talking about the ship he’d been building, and offering to let them see it.
Argument against: It would take a lot to subdue two victims at once. Voss was a big man, but it would still be a difficult chore. When the third victim that evening is added into the mix (Steven Pearsall), it seems even more unlikely that Voss could’ve done it on his own. Still, it’s not impossible, and if one victim was subdued quickly (knocked unconscious, for instance), it would’ve given the killer all the time he needed with the second girl.
STEVEN PEARSALL – Argument for: Pearsall definitely went to the theatre late that evening when no one was expecting him. He easily could have walked in on Voss doing something to Kristina and Brandi. If this happened, Voss would have had no choice but to murder Pearsall in order to keep his secret. If the girls were somehow already incapacitated, it would have been easy for Voss to overpower Pearsall. Pearsall was 5’11” and 160 pounds. Voss was much taller at 6’5″ and heavier as well (around 230 pounds, at the time).
Arguments against: Voss and Pearsall were co-workers, and possibly even “friends.” In fact, they worked together on the pirate ship for the upcoming production, and people saw them work together on a frequent basis. Additionally, if Pearsall arrived before the girls, it seems as though it would have significantly decreased the odds that Voss would have abducted or killed them, given that he would’ve known he had to dispose of all three victims.
OVERALL opinions: At first the case seems strange. The victims vary in gender and age, which makes it feel like a single perpetrator would not be responsible. Additionally, Voss has made a public showing of being “helpful” when it came to investigations, including admitting that he’d been the last to see certain victims. Thus, the victimology and outward forthrightness of the suspect seem to argue against.
However, the female victims (though they varied in age) were all approximately the same build/size. And, oddly, 3 of them were named similarly as well (Christina, Kristen, and Kristina). Finally, the chances of Voss having been the last to see at least two of the victims alive (admitted in the cases of Christina White and Steven Pearsall) seems too far-fetched to be a mere coincidence. Furthermore, the idea that these two victims had no connection to each other (12-year-old Christina and 35-year-old Steven) went missing from the same small town, and their only commonality happens to have been Lance Voss seems almost impossible to believe…unless he was their killer.
What do you think?