Alleged killer to be charged in nine additional slayings

SPOKANE, Wash. - Robert Lee Yates Jr. will be charged this week in nine additional slayings, plus one attack in which the victim survived, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Yates so far has been charged with a single count of first-degree murder in the 1997 slaying of a 16-year-old runaway.

Tuesday's statement was the first indication that officers had identified a survivor in an attack involving Yates. Sheriff's spokesman Dave Reagan said the survivor was female, but he declined to provide any other details.

Since the April 18 arrest of Yates, a 47-year-old married father of five, sheriff's officers have said repeatedly that they believed he was the serial killer who preyed on prostitutes in Spokane and Tacoma in the late 1990s and could be responsible for more than a dozen slayings.

''We have a victim who survived an attack by Robert Yates,'' Reagan said.

Yates will be charged on Thursday with nine additional counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery, Reagan said. The attempted murder and robbery charges arise from the attack in which the victim survived, Reagan said.

Prosecutor Steve Tucker has scheduled a news conference Thursday to discuss the charges, Reagan said, adding victims' names and additional details would be released then.

Tucker did not return a telephone message Tuesday, but on Monday he said his office was considering whether to file nine additional murder charges against Yates.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers in Germany are investigating whether Yates might be involved in the deaths of as many as 26 women in that country, FBI Agent Norm Brown said.

Yates served two tours of duty in Germany with the Army, and German authorities are especially interested in any evidence found in a 1988 Chevrolet van that Yates had shipped to Germany.

The Spokane County sheriff's office has custody of the van and is searching it for evidence. Officers are also trying to put together a detailed timeline of Yates' travels in Germany, Brown said.

Yates is being held in the Spokane County Jail on $1.5 million bail.

He is charged by information in the death of Jennifer Joseph, a 16-year-old runaway from Spanaway, Wash., near Tacoma.

Investigators said DNA samples from a white 1977 Corvette that Yates once owned and the site where Joseph's body was found linked Yates to her death.

Investigators have said DNA and other physical evidence tie Yates to a string of killings of drug addicts and prostitutes in Spokane and Tacoma.

Yates is a U.S. Army veteran and a helicopter pilot for the Army National Guard. He was working at a Kaiser Aluminum Corp. smelter near Spokane at the time of his arrest.

Detectives have seized a dozen cars and vans that Yates either owned or had access to since moving to Spokane in 1996. They have also combed through Yates' home in a comfortable south Spokane neighborhood.

Yates has four daughters and a son. They and his wife have been in seclusion since his arrest and have made no comments.


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