Author Topic: Robert Evans | "Chameleon Killer" Convicted of Murders Suspected in Others  (Read 1093 times)


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‘Chameleon’ Killer ID’d as Culprit in Four New Hampshire Barrel Bodies, Others
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 1:08pm 4 Comments
by Seth Augenstein - Senior Science Writer - @SethAugenstein

A 1985 booking photo of "Curtis Kimball" (left). A 1986 newspaper photo of "Gordon Curtis Jenson" (center), suspected of child abuse. A 2002 mugshot of "Lawrence William Vanner" (right). Police say all three are the same man, who is believed to be responsible for killing at least six people. Photos: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
The Bear Brook Murders, one of the most infamous cold cases in American history, was broken open today by investigators.

But in a strange twist, they have honed in on the killer—but still lack the identities of the four victims found stuffed in barrels in the New Hampshire woods.

A man known as Robert Evans in the 1970s and early 1980s in New Hampshire was the biological father of "Child 2," one of the four victims. The man known as Evans also was an employee of the owner of the property where the bodies were discovered.

In a complicated investigative web, it was the connection to two other missing persons cases in New Hampshire, and a completely separate murder in California, which have connected the dots of a serial killer who was apparently stalking multiple states from coast to coast—and likely has at least a half-dozen victims over decade, and potentially more.

The killer named Evans went by at least four other names—and his true identity remains unknown. A startling investigation by the New Hampshire and California authorities, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and others have started to paint a horrifying portrait of an unknown size—though they are starting to understand its shape.

“This is a guy who was a chameleon,” said Jeffery Strelzin, chief of the homicide unit for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. “We are confident we have our killer—we now want to ID these victims.

“When you can’t identify your victims, you generally can’t get anywhere,” he added. “In this case, it was the opposite … Now we need to identify and try to find all of his victims.”

Denise Beaudin (left) went missing in 1981. "Bob Evans" was her boyfriend at the time. Eunsoon Jun (right) was murdered in 2002. Her husband, "Curtis Kimball," was convicted in her killing and died in prison while serving a 15 years to life sentence. Photos: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
Coast to Coast, Name to Name

Robert Evans was initially sought in connection with the disappearance of Denise Beaudin and her infant daughter Dawn in November 1981, authorities said.

Evans next popped up in California in 1985. But he was named Curtis Kimball on the West Coast, and he was with a girl going by the name of Lisa. Denise Beaudin had disappeared along the way, somehow.

A series of arrests and aliases mark the killer’s trail. He was still Curtis Kimball in 1985 at the time of a DWI. He was Gordon Curtis Jenson when working in an RV park, and when he abandoned the little girl Lisa in 1986. A family at the RV park adopted the girl. The story of abuse she told her new family and authorities led to felony arrest warrants for him.

The same man—now known as Gerry Mockerman—was picked up by authorities in 1988. He was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to three years in prison. He served 18 months, before he was paroled, and absconded.

The killer—whatever his new name—disappeared for 12 years.

The man resurfaced with the name Lawrence William Vanner in 2001. Doing odd jobs as a handyman, he met a woman named Eunsoon Jun, whose roof he repaired. They were married in an unofficial backyard ceremony in August 2001. Jun went missing in September 2002, and her body was found in her basement weeks later.

The husband was arrested that November and charged with murder—and he was eventually convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

The prisoner known in the legal system as Curtis Kimball died in a California prison on Dec. 28, 2010.

It is not known how old he was, since he gave birthdates throughout his life that ranged from 1936 to 1952, depending on what alias he was using, authorities said.

The first barrel (left) was discovered in 1985 and contained the bodies of a woman and a young girl. The second barrel (right) was found in 2000 and contained the bodies of two young girls. The same suspect is believed to have killed all four victims, who have yet to be identified. Photos: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
The Lingering Mystery

Back in New Hampshire, the Bear Brook case was mired in infamy—and dead ends.

The first barrel was found by hunters near Bear Brook State Park in the New Hampshire woods in November 1985. Inside the 55-gallon drum were the bodies of a woman and a young girl. The case quickly went nowhere, despite New Hampshire authorities committing hundreds of hours to try and identify the two females.

Fifteen years later, in 2000, investigators combing the woods for clues on the long-unsolved case came upon the unthinkable, just a short distance away: yet another barrel. This one contained the bodies of two more little girls.

For 15 years more, the trail led nowhere beyond those woods outside Allenstown, New Hampshire. DNA early on established the woman and two of the girls were closely related, perhaps mother and daughters, or siblings.

All four victims lived in New Hampshire together prior to their deaths, they found. The middle child, however, was different—she had likely come from somewhere in the middle of the country.

One investigative hope was oxygen isotope analysis, completed in 2015. The tests of the isotopes in the remains determined all four had lived together in the Northeast, drinking the same water marked by a particular chemical signature.

DNA and other findings from the remains have narrowed down the inter-relationships, too: the woman likely had dark, wavy hair and was between 22 and 33 years old. The oldest girl in the same barrel was 10 years old at the time of death. The youngest victim, who was also related, was 2 or 3 years old and had a large gap in the front of her teeth. The unrelated middle child was 3 or 4 years old and had a different appearance, according to the latest sketch.

That middle child is now confirmed to be the biological daughter of the killer—whether he is known as Evans, Kimball, Jenson or whatever other names he used in his decades of mayhem.

Police created a map that tracks the possible locations throughout the years of the serial killer known by several different aliases, including "Robert Evans" and "Curtis Kimball." Image: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
The DNA Link

The link was the little girl he abandoned, then known as Lisa Jenson.

Curious about her barely-remembered past and the man she had been with for the cross-country travel, she took a genetic test. It was linked to people in New Hampshire—people who turned out to be her cousins and her grandfather.

Further testing and contact with police established an incredible connection: she was Dawn Beaudin, the little girl last seen on the East Coast in 1981.

The woman, now with a happily married life including three children of her own, released a statement through authorities at the press conference this morning.

“I am so grateful to be reunited with my grandfather and cousins,” she said, calling it an “incredulous” story. “Please turn your attention to the unidentified victims.”

Police now believe Evans killed at least six people: Denise Beaudin, the four Bear Brook victims and Jun, whose murder was the one for which he was actually caught. However, the biological mother of the daughter he killed and placed in the barrel remains unknown—and unaccounted for. (Elizabeth Evans is a name that appears occasionally in documents, but investigators are unsure of her real identity.) All the known victims were killed with blunt-force trauma. Some were dismembered.

“Frankly, we do not know the true identity of the subject right now,” said Sgt. Michael Kokoski of the New Hampshire State Police.

Little investigative clues have mounted, however. Based on things he said and his history, they believe he may have been in the military, perhaps in the U.S. Navy, prior to appearing on the New Hampshire radar in 1977. Heavy drinking marked his entire life, including the DWIs. And he also was a drifter, with only months at a time in the same place. Almost everyone he had met along his travels described him as aloof and strange.

Most chillingly, perhaps—investigators are not only unsure of what the killer’s real name is, but they’re also unsure of his travels. Beyond California and New Hampshire, he stole a car in Idaho. He is also believed to have potential connections in a wide swath of the rest of the country: Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Hawaii, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia and Virginia.

Police are asking anyone to see if they recognize the man known as Robert Evans, Curtis Kimball, Gordon Curtis Jenson, Gerry Mockerman and Lawrence William Vanner. Tipsters should call the New Hampshire State Police, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-(800)-THE-LOST.



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The Tale of the Abandoned Girl’s DNA that Led to a Notorious Cold Case
Tue, 02/07/2017 - 11:44am 1 Comment
by Seth Augenstein - Senior Science Writer - @SethAugenstein

Carol Schweitzer, supervising case manager at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, was one of the lead investigators to make the connection between Lisa’s case and the infamous Bear Brook Murders just down the road. Photo: Courtesy of Carol Schweitzer
Editor’s Note: Forensic Magazine spoke with the detectives from multiple agencies who broke open the infamous Bear Brook Murders cold case in New Hampshire in January. The following is a narrative explaining how one determined California deputy’s work led to a DNA discovery, which was picked up by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s team of experts, which in turn allowed a group of New Hampshire cops to make an on-the-ground push to identify a long-lost killer.

Peter Headley, a detective in the Crimes Against Children Detail of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, had spent five years on the case.

The little girl named Lisa had been abandoned in 1986 at an RV park by a drifter. Lisa’s case was singular. Against the odds, and despite the toughest of beginnings, she had reached a happy ending: she was married with children, and had developed a normal adult life.

But her earliest memories were vague shadows of abuse—and a man she could barely recall, who had kidnapped her from somewhere. The adult woman needed answers.

“Lisa’s case was very unique, one of a kind,” said Headley. “We did not know who she was. We didn’t know where she had been taken from. We had nothing to go on.”

But Headley and his colleagues in California had seen the gamut of horror inflicted on children, from physical beatings to molestation and child pornography. He knew there was something to this case. After all, the man who had abandoned the girl was later arrested for killing and dismembering a woman, and burying the body in her basement. Something in the past had brought the little girl and the future killer together—and it was probably important.

“Knowing what we knew about him, we felt there were most likely victims, right from the beginning,” Headley said in a recent interview with Forensic Magazine.

Peter Headley, detective with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office, didn’t give up on the decades-old case of a little girl who had been abandoned by a killer and abuser. Photo: Courtesy of Peter Headley
So, he persisted. Hundreds of hours were spent on the phone, revisiting locations, conducting interviews, reviewing what documentation he could find. He attempted to reconnect the drifter to the time and place where his path had intersected with the girl’s. He exhausted lead after lead over the course of five years.

The drifter who had claimed to be her father, and was her longtime abuser, was like a phantom. The man who went by several aliases—incarcerated under the name Curtis Kimball—refused to tell authorities where Lisa had come from. He died in prison in 2010, taking his secrets to the grave.

Lisa’s memories of her past were vague, and she never knew where she had come from, before the man known as Curtis Kimball left her at the Holiday Host RV Park in Scotts Valley when she was just about 5 years old.

The case haunted Headley, maybe as much as any other. So he kept at it, doubling back over locations, assessing things Kimball had said and other clues he left behind on his trail.

“Every little thing, you research. A big problem with cold cases is the records are gone,” said Headley. “From DMV records, to records from the RV parks he had stayed at, they were gone. It made it very difficult.”

A 2002 mugshot of Curtis Kimball (left), who was convicted of murder after killing and dismembering a woman named Eunsoon Jun (right). Kimball died in prison in 2010. Photos: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office

But the little girl Lisa, now an adult woman, had the vital clues right in the nuclei of her cells. All it took was the latest forensic genealogy techniques—and thousands of hours more.

Headley reached out to, a site originally created for adoptees to find their birth parents through online autosomal and Y-DNA, and the assistance of volunteers. Headley found Barbara Rae-Venter, a genetic genealogy expert who volunteers with the site.

Most of the DNAAdoption cases at least have a place to start the search—a geographical location where the child was abandoned, or a clue as to where a person was born or came from. In this case, there was no leads other than the drifter who was not her biological father, Rae-Venter said.

“We didn’t have that piece of geography that we would normally have,” Rae-Venter told Forensic Magazine. “There were no clues. We did not even know whether Lisa was born in the U.S. or Canada. The drifter who had abducted her had quite literally been all over the U.S. and up into Quebec in the time around when it was believed Lisa was abducted.”

But they could try. Using a sample of Lisa’s DNA, they combed through several online databases looking for genetic clues. Upon Rae-Venter’s advice, Lisa submitted a DNA sample to each of the three genomics testing companies.

First they came upon a “huge, huge hint”—a person in the database who had enough genetic similarities to indicate he was a second or third cousin, all the way on the East Coast.

The cousin had a huge family tree uploaded onto the site. Headley persuaded that person to upload their DNA profile to GEDmatch alongside Lisa to determine further similarities. The GEDmatch site is for comparing and contrasting multiple companies’ databases. And it produced nearly immediate results.

“We got a huge, fabulous clue,” said Rae-Venter.

DNA expert Barbara Rae-Venter, a volunteer with, aided Headley in tracking Lisa's DNA profile in the hope of finding relatives—and a possible clue to her past. Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Rae-Venter
The X chromosome has a total of 196 centiMorgans, a unit of similarity measurement. Lisa and the man shared 113 of them, a pretty close match indicating a common female ancestor. “This was exciting,” said Rae-Venter.

Then, a second lucky break. Within the database of 23andMe, the searches turned up a man who had been adopted, who was another second or third cousin. The California man agreed to transfer his information to GEDMatch, too, and his centiMorgans were twice the match with Lisa’s of the first man. After further detective work, Headley and Rae-Venter were able to get a court order for the man's original birth certificate - and therefore track down the adopted man’s father.

Knowing the adoptee’s father, plus the two Ancestry matches, allowed a triangulation of the ancestry—straight back to the first man’s grandmother as the common ancestor.

“It gave us the name of who was the common ancestor, and where the matching segment of the X chromosome came from,” said Rae-Venter.

But there was still detective work to do. The grandmother had 18 children. Using a family tree, and numerous cross country phone calls, Headley persuaded a group of strangers who were descendants of each of the grandmother’s children to assist in the investigation by providing genetic reference samples.

After about a year, they had their name—and an identity.

Lisa was really Dawn Beaudin, last seen in 1981 at the age of six months in New Hampshire.

So how did she end up in California?

A thorough investigation of Lisa's ancestry revealed that the abandoned girl was Dawn Beaudin, daughter of Denise Beaudin (pictured). Both disappeared in 1981. Photo: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has thousands of stories of the vanished, the abused and the unidentified. Thousands of faces in databases, and thousands of names to remember and look up. Not all of them can be committed to memory.

But some cases no one can forget.

As Carol Schweitzer and other NCMEC investigators plotted the last known appearance of Beaudin and her mother Denise on a map last year, they noticed a close connection to a huge unsolved case nearby.

Immediately it was clear—Dawn Beaudin had last been seen in Manchester. That town in southern New Hampshire was just 15 miles down the road from Allenstown, site of one of the most notorious cold cases in American history.

“The team was looking at the map to see where Manchester was,” Schweitzer recalls. “When they’re pulling up the map to see where Lisa originally came from, we noticed that’s right there. Right near the New Hampshire case.”

They’re known as the Bear Brook Murders, after the nearby state park. In 1985, hunters came upon a 55-gallon drum in the woods, which they opened to find two bodies stuffed inside: a woman and a girl, both decomposed. A full investigation turned up no leads, other than the fact that they had been dumped there a few years earlier.

In 2000, as state police detectives continued to investigate the two homicides, they came upon the unthinkable: a second barrel, with two more bodies stuffed inside. This time, both were little girls. DNA eventually determined that two of the girls were related to the adult woman, but the fourth victim was a girl unrelated to the others.

Schweitzer and the NCMEC team almost immediately made the connection. The center had been looking at Lisa’s case since 2004, once DNA had ruled out that the man in a California prison who had abandoned her was not her biological father. But they had never had a case open from the other end, on Dawn Beaudin from New Hampshire, before. She and her mother Denise and her mother’s boyfriend Robert Evans had simply disappeared from the area following a family Thanksgiving dinner in 1981, amid financial problems. Dawn was only officially reported missing in 2016, amid these new revelations.

NCMEC had never had a point of interest on the map quite that close to the Bear Brook Murders. But now they did—and they had pictures and descriptions of the man named Curtis Kimball who had abandoned Lisa in California.

Everything was lining up.

“Everyone in the unit here is familiar with the large cases, one of them being Allenstown,” Schweitzer recalled. “We started to hear the information that came in on Lisa’s case. She went missing in 1981 … The timeline is consistent, location is consistent, you have a mother and daughter that go missing at the same time.

“This was too similar; we needed to track down if there were any links to the New Hampshire case,” she added.

The first barrel found in the Bear Brook Murders case (left) was discovered in 1985. The 55-gallon drum contained the bodies of a woman and a young girl (far left and center left composites). The second barrel (right) was discovered in 2000. It contained the bodies of two young girls (center right and right composites). Images: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office

NCMEC contacted Headley, and Headley contacted the New Hampshire State Police.

We have found Dawn Beaudin, he told them. And there could potentially be a link to that big cold case of yours, he added.

Fingerprints and jail records indicated that the same man in California had gone by the names Gordon Jenson, Curtis Kimball, Gerald Mockerman and Lawrence Vanner. Under these various names, he had been arrested for a DUI with Lisa in the car, abandoned the girl, been convicted of abusing her and ultimately put away for life for murdering and dismembering a woman named Eunsoon Jun in 2002. He died in prison in 2010 as Curtis Kimball.

Sgt. Michael Kokoski of the New Hampshire State Police and other detectives on its Cold Case Unit started looking at the “new” disappearance of Beaudin. (It was never reported in 1981, because Evans manipulated the rest of the Beaudin family into thinking it was a planned move.)

Using thorough police work and interviews with surviving family, they matched the Curtis Kimball in California who had killed Jun and abandoned Dawn Beaudin in 1986 to the Robert Evans of New Hampshire who had disappeared with the girl and her mother Denise Beaudin in 1981.

A 1985 mugshot of Curtis Kimball after he was arrested for DUI and child endangerment (left) and a 1990 parole photo of Kimball after he was convicted of child abuse. Kimball absconded after being released on parole. Photos: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
A half dozen detectives started completely reworking the case in mid-2016, led by Kokoski and Jeffrey Strelzin, the chief of the homicide unit for the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.

The state police put together a timeline and a history that matched with the dead killer out in California, too. He had worked at Waumbec Mills in Manchester as an electrician under a supervisor. That supervisor owned the property where the four bodies were found in the barrels.

According to interviews, Evans was also known to have dumped other items on the property. Some of the barrels on the property were known to have come from the mill. And some of the bodies were even bound with the same kinds of electrical supplies the killer worked with at the mill.

They ran down the DNA—none of the females in the barrels were from the Beaudin family.

But after further, intensive DNA work by Bode Cellmark Forensics, they had their “Eureka” moment.

The middle child, found in the second barrel, was not related to the other females.

But she was the biological daughter of Evans/Jenson/Kimball/Mockerman/Vanner.

Strelzin told Forensic Magazine that—despite the connection between the mill and the property—Evans only appeared on their radar in 2014. And it was only the results of the DNA tests in late 2016 that narrowed the focus on the drifter and electrician who vanished from the East Coast in 1981.

“We are confident we have our killer, now we want to ID these victims,” said Strelzin.

The four females remain unidentified. Though oxygen isotopes in the bones indicate most of them were from the Northeast, no one has come forward to identify them.

Most chillingly, Evans/Jenson/Kimball/Mockerman/Vanner himself remains unidentified today.

“Frankly, we do not know the true identity of the subject right now,” said Kokoski, during a press conference.

Entire decades of this “chameleon’s” whereabouts remain unknown. Prior to 1977, between 1981 and 1986, and between 1989 and 2002, he was like a phantom. He himself claimed to have spent significant time in about half the country, perhaps under more aliases. More victims are potentially unaccounted for—perhaps never to be found.

Testing of oxygen isotopes from the bones of the four victims found in barrels near Bear Brook state park determined approximate geographic origins of each victim. One of the victims (right composite) was determined to be the biological child of murderer Curtis Kimball, who went by several different aliases throughout his life. Image: Courtesy of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office
Leads remain, and the work continues. A woman going by the name of Elizabeth Evans lived with Robert Evans in Manchester, so there could be a missing Elizabeth from somewhere in the Northeast, or beyond. The DNA of the killer’s daughter, stuffed like garbage into that steel drum, may still yet yield clues, especially when genealogy is superimposed over the geography of the isotopes. And there are multiple geographic leads into the “chameleon” killer known as Evans in New Hampshire and Kimball in California, including one possibility that he grew up in sparsely populated Wyoming. He may have been military, perhaps Navy, according to information unearthed during countless police interviews.

Headley said a separate law enforcement agency found a witness who saw an unknown 6-month-old child with the chameleon killer in the mid-1980s.

“We’re far from done,” said Headley.

Unfortunately, the advanced DNA techniques that linked an abandoned girl in California with horrific murders on the opposite coast, and broke open one of the biggest American cold cases, can’t be used to establish who Evans was. Upon entering prison for Jun’s murder in 2002, he provided a sample that contained the 13 CODIS loci of his DNA. But digging up his body to get more genetic clues from his full genome isn’t an option.

“He was cremated,” said Schweitzer.