TV movie leads to identification of Green River murder victim

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by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

KING5.com

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 18 at 6:29 PM

She vanished 30 years ago. Now, her disappearance is solved. It turns out she was a victim of the Green River killer.

The young woman’s remains were one of four sets King County detectives had yet to identify. For the last 27 years, she's been known to detectives simply as "Bones, victim #16."

Today, she finally has a name. Sandra Denise Major is victim #16 out of 49.

Detective Tom Jensen joined the Green River task force in 1984. He remembers Ridgway leading investigators the site of Sandra Major's remains, along with two others.

“One of the places he took us was to Mountain View Cemetery and he described how he had left these victims there," he said.

DNA analysis has come a long way in recent years, far enough to create a complete profile of the unidentified victims found at that cemetery, including Major.

In April,  Major's cousin in New York called Det. Jensen after seeing a TV show about the Green River killer. They knew Sandra had moved out to Seattle, and when they learned four women still hadn't been identified, they feared she was among them.

They were right.

Det. Jensen remembers the phone call.

“They were still kind of in shock but prepared for the answer. I think there was just relief," he said.

Relief and a reminder that despite Ridgeway's life sentence, this case is far from closed.

“One down, three to go. Not done yet,” said Jensen.

Despite advancements in DNA, it may still not be enough. Jensen says the ultimate result will likely come the old fashioned way.

“I suspect if we do get an identification it’ll be because a family member contacts us," he said.

Major’s family released a statement thanking detectives for their hard work, and saying they are "grateful to finally know what happened to Sandra after all these years."

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