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Colorado cold case suspect's DNA matches profile in unsolved Seattle homicide

Ricky Dawson, 62, was in prison in Florida for a 2001 homicide until he was extradited to Colorado this week.

SEATTLE — DNA of a suspect linked to a 1996 cold case out of Denver, Colorado matches the DNA of an unidentified suspect from a 2000 Seattle homicide.

Ricky Dawson, 62, was in prison in Florida for a 2001 homicide until he was extradited to Colorado this week and charged with first-degree murder over the killing of 35-year-old Terri Turachak on Oct. 5, 1996. 

Dawson's DNA profile out of the Florida case matched that of an unidentified DNA profile stemming from a May 28, 2000 sexual assault/murder case out of Seattle, according to a Denver police affidavit. In that case, the victim was found with multiple blunt force injuries and died of strangulation.

Seattle police investigated and identified the woman killed was 40-year-old Debbie Cashio.

In 2023, her name can be found at the Seattle Justice Center at 600 5th Ave on a leaf of remembrance. The Homeless Remembrance Project honored her during a vigil to keep her name alive while police continued to investigate.

The Fallen Leaves website wrote about Cashio in part, “Our very first WHEEL/Women In Black vigil was for Debbie Cashio. In late May, 2000, we were heartbroken to learn that her body had been found in the “Jungle” greenbelt near 8th and Jackson. After our vigil, Women In Black did a cleansing ritual at the site.” 

“I went and saw it. That brought back a lot of emotions. But it really made me happy as he that she was being remembered,” said Tabatha Johnson, Cashio’s daughter.

Johnson was 11 years old when her mom was killed.

“It was a very tragic thing that happened,” she said.

While there has never been an arrest in her mother's case, Tabatha says she's known about a possible suspect for awhile.

“I think they have like this intuition. But it was something they actively worked on,” Johnson said. “It's overwhelming but it's bringing about some answers that we didn't have so that's been a relief just a one on one a bit more."

Johnson misses her mom. She reflected on the best memories they have together, like her mother glass blowing art or time spent on the beach together.

“Right now I am a mother and I think about this every day because she'd be so proud of who we are and what we become. And every night I pray to her,” Johnson said, visibly emotional.

Johnson wants justice for her mom.

“It would be nice to just have her name connected in some way for people who loved and cared about her. So it can bring closure to a lot of people,” Johnson said.

The Seattle detective investigating the case told KING 5 they currently do not want to release any further details. No charges have been filed in the Seattle case.

Turachak's injuries and cause of death in the Denver case were similar to that of Cashio's, according to the police affidavit.

Denver police were notified in 2004 of a DNA match to Dawson in the 1996 cold case. At the time, he was in custody in Florida. 

Dawson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Florida case. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Dawson now faces first-degree murder charges in the death of the Denver woman.

WHEEL sent a statement to KING 5 regarding Cashio's death.

Watch: KING 5's Unsolved Northwest series

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