“Happy Face Killer” Victim Identified from 1994 Florida Case

“Happy Face Killer” Victim Identified from 1994 Florida Case

Another victim of Keith Jesperson, infamously known as the “Happy Face Killer,” has been identified. Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden announced on Tuesday that the body discovered next to a Florida freeway in September 1994 belongs to Suzanne Kjellenberg, strangled at the age of 34 by Jesperson. This identification marks the seventh out of Jesperson’s eight confessed victims to be named.

Jesperson, now 68 and serving four life sentences without parole possibility in Oregon, earned the moniker “Happy Face Killer” due to the smiley faces he drew on letters addressed to the media and the police. He openly admitted to murdering eight women across five states from 1990 to 1995, while also claiming to be responsible for over 100 deaths.

Sheriff Aden revealed that Jesperson had encountered Kjellenberg hitchhiking near Tampa in August 1994. According to Jesperson, after Kjellenberg woke up screaming in his parked truck, he strangled her to avoid attracting attention from a nearby security guard. Her body was found by a work crew a month later.

Kjellenberg’s identification was made possible through a collaboration between Florida officials and genetic genealogy firm, Othram. After producing a genealogical profile, Kjellenberg’s Wisconsin-based family was informed. Last month’s interview with Jesperson unveiled previously unknown details about the crime. Despite his confession, he will not face the death penalty for Kjellenberg’s murder due to an existing agreement.

Apart from Kjellenberg, another victim, Patsy Skiple, was identified last year. She was discovered dead in 1993 near Gilroy, California. Currently, only one out of Jesperson’s eight victims remains unnamed, found in 1992 near Blythe, California.

Jesperson’s victims include:

  • Taunja Bennett (1990, Portland, Oregon)
  • Unidentified woman, possibly named Claudia (1992, near Blythe, California)
  • Cynthia Lyn Rose (1992, Turlock)
  • Laurie Ann Pentland (1992, Salem, Oregon)
  • Patricia Skiple (1993, near Williams, found near Gilroy)
  • Suzanne Kjellenberg (1994, Crestview, Florida)
  • Angela Subrize (1995, Laramie County, Wyoming, found in Nebraska)
  • Julie Winningham (1995, Washougal, Washington)

While Jesperson’s assaults predominantly resulted in fatalities, one survivor is known: Daun Richert-Slagle, a 21-year-old mother met Jesperson in 1990. Despite an attempted assault, she and her infant child were eventually released.

Chris Morris
Author: Chris Morris

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