UnResolved Docuseries Episode 5: The Trail of a Killer
EVERETT, WA (3TV/CBS 5) – The seaside city of Everett, Washington, is known for its views of the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound. But in the mid-1990s, a visitor arrived in the area, and a series of violent incidents involving women soon followed.
“This is probably one of the most beautiful locations of any city in the United States. We’re surrounded by water on three sides. There’s a deep water port there,” said Gene Fosheim, a local historian. “Certainly, in the 1900s, this was one rough town. You had 24 labor unions. You had two-dozen sawmills. You had strikes going on all the time. And there was some bloodshed.”
But he does not recall the day in October of 2000 when someone attacked Victoria Mikelsen along the Interurban Trail.
“I would walk this trail with my good friends in summer between middle school and high school. And we would go swimming at Silver Lake. This was a fun, happy trail, until that morning of October 9th in the year 2000,” said Mikelsen, as she walked along the trail two decades after the attack.
“He came up behind me, put his arm around my shoulders, cut my neck, and then I was struggling to get away from him. And then I kicked my leg up in the air as tall as his head. And I kicked the knife out of his hand like a karate kick. And it flew out of his hand. And then he strangled me until I passed out.”
Mikelsen survived the attack, but she was seriously injured. “I couldn’t eat right. I couldn’t sleep right. I was in pain. I couldn’t stand up straight, and I couldn’t walk,” said Mikelsen. It took months for her to recover, and the attacker remained on the loose. “I knew he was still out there, and I know that they never found him.”
At the time, investigators believed the attacker was a transient because the location of the trail was between a freeway and a transient camp. But now, police think the attacker was one of Mikelsen’s neighbors. It turns out, Bryan Patrick Miller lived about 100 yards from Mikelsen. Police believe Miller murdered three young women in Phoenix in 1992 and 1993, then moved to Everett. Six years ago, detectives from Phoenix traveled to Everett to speak to Mikelsen.
“They showed me a picture of his mug shot and I was like, ‘Ooh. That’s really creepy. He’s got the same exact face. He’s got the same cheek bones. The same eye sockets. The same facial bones,’” said Mikelsen.
She says there is no doubt in her mind that Miller is the person who attacked her more than 20 years ago. But the statute of limitations has run out, and Miller has never faced charges for that attack. However, he did not stay off the police radar in Everett. On May 3, 2002, Everett Police arrested Miller when a different woman came forward and accused him of attacking her with a knife.
Her name was Melissa Ruiz Ramirez, and she was 25 years old. Miller claimed he picked her up while she was walking along the side of the road. He took her to his place of employment. Nobody else was there. At that point, he claimed she tried to rob him, and he stabbed her in self-defense. Ruiz Ramirez said Miller attacked her unprovoked. A jury acquitted Miller of criminal charges. But one juror told us she was not aware of Miller’s background and does not believe the jurors were told all of the facts in the case. In 2004, another woman was attacked in the Everett area. This time, it resulted in murder. Kelly Sarsten was 37 when she disappeared from her rural home along the Pilchuck River. Police found her body the next day in shallow water. Her remains had been mutilated.
“When it happened, we never thought it would take this long, ever,” said Judy Wolfe, one of Kelly’s sisters. “Kelly was an ace of diamonds. She was bright, happy, energetic. Was always there for people when they needed her,” said Sandy Fririchs, another sister. Sandy and Judy describe Kelly as unforgettable.
“Not long after high school she went to beauty school and became a beautician. Then she just kind of got tired of sitting around waiting for her next client to show up. Somebody had told her, ‘You need to drive dump trucks.’ And so here’s Kelly, this blonde bombshell gal, driving these dump trucks,” said Wolfe. Kelly’s sisters say they can’t believe the case remains unsolved. “It’s just so maddening that whoever did it has been free for this long. They killed a vital person in this world, who had plans in life. They killed my sister. They took her away from her family and her friends and they’re out there free. It’s not fair.”
Sandy and Judy say they thought about the possibility that Bryan Miller killed Kelly. “The MO is definitely similar, but was he here? I don’t know,” said Wolfe.
The detective in charge of Kelly Sarsten’s case told us he did not believe Miller was Sarsten’s killer. However, sandy and Judy say they’re still not sure. “They could be wrong. Who knows?” said Judy.
Back in Phoenix, Miller’s former friend Keen Azariah said he originally looked into Miller’s past actions, hoping to help clear him. But he soon began to suspect Miller may have had something to do with Adrienne Salinas’ death. He said he traced Miller to Tempe the morning Salinas disappeared. And he noticed that Miller had been having anxiety attacks around that same time. Salinas’ body was found in Apache Junction, near the base of the Superstition Mountains, and that is an area Azariah claimed Miller knew well. He also said Miller was going out for pre-dawn bike rides at that time.
None of those facts amount to proof Miller was involved in Salinas’ death. But Tempe police have not ruled him out. They say they’d still like to interview him, although Miller has made no indication he is willing to speak to the police. He is set to stand trial in the Brosso and Bernas murders in August.
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