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The mysterious disappearance-turned-murder of Kathy Dobson has been unsolved for over 30 years

The single mother of two vanished in June of 1991. Her body was found in an illegal garbage dump in Edmonds in February 1992.

EVERETT, Wash. — The missing persons case-turned-homicide of Kathy Dobson, also known by her maiden name Kathy Dawson, rocked Snohomish County 32 years ago.

The single mother of two vanished in June of 1991. Then, her remains were found in an illegal garbage dump off Picnic Point Road in Edmonds over seven months after she disappeared. She was just 24 years old. 

Family members knew she was hanging out with a dangerous crowd and involved with known drug dealers. So, they suspected the worst when the young Everett mom went missing.  

“They never said she was a mother, a daughter or anything," said Lynne McKee, Kathy’s mother. "They just said she was a dancer from Deja Vu. It wasn’t right. She was a human being."

The Deja Vu in Everett was where Dobson worked as a dancer until her disappearance.

“It drove me crazy that they labeled her like they labeled a lot of the girls that disappeared in that time,” McKee said.

Dobson was the youngest of McKee’s five children and her only daughter.

“I never saw her without a smile on her face,” McKee said

What happened to Kathy Dobson (Dawson)?

Family members said Dobson was deeply involved with drugs, struggled with addiction and associated with drug dealers. The last time her brother, Bob Dawson, spoke to her, she was in jail on drug-related charges.

Dawson said sometime after she got out of jail she just disappeared.

He said she planned on visiting on June 27, to see her daughter, Eva, for her birthday. 

“She would phone me constantly during the week, once or twice,” McKee said. “Eva’s birthday was coming up. When she didn’t phone me back, I knew something was wrong.”

She was officially reported missing in July, just days after her daughter’s eighth birthday.

Eva Dawson said it hurts her heart having to live without knowing what happened to her mother. 

“I want somebody to pay for the crime,” Eva Dawson said. “They need to do their time. They need to. It’s not fair.”

Credit: Kathy Dobson's family

According to Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Elliott Woodall, gathering evidence at the scene of an illegal garbage dump was difficult.

“People come in here and they throw car parts, furniture parts and general trash. It’s difficult for the detectives to find what’s evidence and what’s non-evidence,” Woodall told KING 5 at the scene back in 1991.

A break in the case in 1992

Almost a year later, in December of 1992, there was a break in the case. Informants told prosecutors that the killing was a hit job that was ordered by Yakima-based drug traffickers who believed Kathy was a snitch. 

Two Snohomish County men were arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

“Somebody said she was a snitch and so the rumors are that the enforcement end of that organization picked her up from jail,” Bob Dawson said. “And then she was gone, taken from us. I’m sure she went out with a fight, too.”

The charges did not stick. One month later, the two suspects were released and the charges were dropped.

Brad Pince was the Snohomish County detective on the case. He’s now retired, but he told KING 5 the informants “didn’t even have a thimble of credibility.”

With no crime scene or murder weapon, there just wasn’t enough to bring the case to trial.

McKee said she was surprised they were let go.

“In my gut, I thought they had something to do with it,” McKee said. 

She still believes they do.

“Somebody knows something,” Bob Dawson said. “DNA wasn’t there at the time, but we have DNA now. Why? Why can’t they get this solved?”

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department has not responded to KING 5's request for information on whether any of the evidence found with Dobson's remains, including a bra, ever made its way to the state lab for DNA testing.

Remembering Kathy Dobson (Dawson)

“She was just a wonderful sister, wonderful mother. That’s how she should be remembered, no other way,” Bob Dawson said.

He said he feels empty inside and it's tough on him not knowing what happened to Dobson.

“Heartbreaking when I look at Eva, because I see my sister,” Bob Dawson said.

McKee said her daughter loved animals. She even showed dogs in her spare time.

For almost 15 years Dobson's case has been featured in the state’s cold case deck of playing cards that are given to jail and prison inmates across the state. It is unknown if the cards have generated any leads.

Credit: The Daily Herald
Snohomish County Sheriff's created the state's first deck of cold case playing cards in hopes of gathering tips

These missing person cases, murders and other mysteries are solvable. To submit a tip to the KING 5 Unsolved Northwest team, click here or fill out the form below.

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