Her Runaway Daughter Met an Unthinkable Fate

Cecile Gaspar didn't learn what happened to 14-year-old Wendy until 2020
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2022 4:22 PM CDT
Her Runaway Daughter Met an Unthinkable Fate
The Green River in Washington State.   (Getty Images / gmc3101)

In August 1983, Cecile Gaspar's 14-year-old daughter ran away from her Colorado home. Again. Gaspar had grown accustomed to her teen's penchant for taking off, which Gaspar chalked up to Wendy Stephens going through a rebellious period after falling in with a new crowd, writes Leah Worthington for the New York Times. Earlier that summer, Wendy had already spent a month away from home. When she returned, the mother and daughter had "one of those conversations of, 'Yeah, Mom, I don’t know why I do the things I do,'" recalls Gaspar. But when Wendy left that August, it would be for the last time. It wasn't until October 2020 that Gaspar would learn what befell her "magnetic" daughter—an almost unimaginable fate: Wendy was the youngest known victim of the Green River Killer.

On March 21, 1984, the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state had received a call: "The guy that manages the Little League Baseball field in Burien said a dog just came home with a bone." In a swampy patch near the baseball field were the rest of the remains, which were dubbed Jane Doe B-10, or Bones 10. It would be more than 25 years before police had the evidence—DNA, in this case—to arrest Gary Ridgway. He was convicted of 49 murders in 2003 and had the death penalty taken off the table by giving up information on his victims. "He was hazy on the details, but said he thought he had picked Wendy up near a KFC on Pacific Highway South before taking her to the ball field, where he strangled her and left her body," writes Worthington. Of course, it would be another 17 years before police knew that Wendy was Wendy. (Read the full story.)

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