St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 21, 1999
Edition: FIVE STAR LIFT
SERIAL MURDER EXPERT ANALYSIS
WHO KILLED AUDREY CARDENAS?
Part of an ongoing series
EXPERT EXAMINES CRIME PATTERNS
AUDREY CARDENAS MURDER
EXPERT EXAMINES CRIME PATTERNS
Series: WHO KILLED AUDREY CARDENAS?
Part of an ongoing series
EXPERT EXAMINES CRIME PATTERNS
CONVICT FITS PATTERN OF A SERIAL KILLER
DALE ANDERSON MURDERED OTHERS, LEADING EXPERT BELIEVES
Author: Carolyn Tuft And Bill Smith
Of The Post-Dispatch
Copyright 1999, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dale R. Anderson, imprisoned for one of the most brutal slayings in Belleville history, likely killed newspaper intern Audrey Cardenas and four other women.
That's the conclusion of Robert K. Ressler, perhaps the world's foremost expert on serial killers.
Ressler called Anderson a "sexual psychopath," who was the "very model" of a serial killer.
"The guy is connected to every single one of these cases," said Ressler, who formerly directed the FBI team that profiled serial killers and actually coined the term "serial killer."
"There has been no one that I've seen as of late who fits the pattern of a serial killer as strongly as he does," said Ressler.
If Ressler is right about Anderson, that means two men have spent a total of 30 years behind bars for murders they didn't commit.
Anderson, who denies killing anyone, was convicted of the 1989 murders of a mother and her young son near Belleville. Ressler believes Anderson also killed:
* Elizabeth K. West, a 14-year-old freshman at Belleville Township High School West whose strangled body was found in a creek between Belleville and Millstadt on May 5, 1978. She vanished a block from her home as she was returning from performing in her high school play.
* Ruth Ann Jany, 21, whose body was found in July 1979 near a creek five miles south of where West's body was discovered. She disappeared a year earlier after stopping at an automatic teller machine in downtown Belleville. Police believe she was strangled.
* A still unidentified woman thought to be 18 to 23 years old, strangled and hidden in a cornfield near Summerfield in St. Clair County in September 1986.
* Kristina Povolish, 19, whose strangled body was discovered in a weed-covered ditch in July 1987 just southwest of Belleville.
* Audrey Cardenas, 24, whose badly decomposed body was found in an overgrown creek on the campus of Belleville Township High School East in June 1988. Investigators believe she was either strangled or had her throat cut.
Another man, Rodney Woidtke, was convicted by a judge of murdering Cardenas. Woidtke received a 45-year prison sentence.
Ressler said he is 95 percent certain that Anderson, not Woidtke, killed Cardenas.
Woidtke is innocent, Ressler said flatly. "Get him out of prison."
Woidtke, a mentally ill transient who confessed to the Cardenas murder after hours of questioning, has spent a decade in prison. The crime scene investigator in the case has said that he believes Woidtke is innocent. Attorneys are now battling in court to free him.
Ressler said he is 80 percent sure that Anderson also killed West, Jany, Povolish and the unidentified woman.
Gregory R. Bowman, 47, has spent 20 years of a life sentence in prison for the West and Jany murders. He confessed to the crimes after police questioned him intermittently for eight months.
Ressler says he does not believe Bowman would have been capable of killing Jany or West - especially in the premeditated way in which they were murdered. Bowman's past crimes were spontaneous, whereas evidence shows that the Jany and West murders were carefully planned, Ressler said.
Both Woidtke and Bowman immediately recanted their confessions and maintain their innocence. No physical evidence tied the men to the murders.
Ressler said there are too many links between the five murders to ignore.
"I can't say for 100 percent sure" that Anderson killed all of the women, Ressler said. "The fact is, I mean, my God, these crimes happened within this small perimeter of Belleville, and they got closer (to Anderson's home) as he got more comfortable."
Ressler said there is enough circumstantial evidence to reopen all of the cases.
Anderson, 47, has been in jail since September 1989 for killing pregnant Jolaine Lanman and her 3-year-old son, Kenneth, in their home east of Belleville. Both were hit in the head and stabbed repeatedly.
Anderson's motive was an attempt to retaliate against three supervisors for firing him from his job at the Illinois Department of Public Aid. Before he killed Lanman, Anderson forced her to write a note saying that the supervisors were involved in the attack on her and her son and had also killed Cardenas. Anderson is serving life without parole for killing the Lanmans.
Ressler's conclusions are backed, in part, by former Illinois State Police crime scene investigator Dee Heil, who said he believes Anderson killed Cardenas, West and Povolish. Heil said he is less certain about Jany and the unidentified woman.
St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus, whose department investigated all but Cardenas' murder, said he welcomes Ressler's review.
"You've got to at least pay some attention to it," Justus said. "I firmly believe that, while we can't prove it at this point, Anderson killed somebody before" the Lanmans.
Appellate Judge Clyde Kuehn, the state's attorney who charged Bowman with the Jany and West murders, said he's intrigued by Ressler's findings.
"It's a very interesting theory looking back at it," Kuehn said. "There is no question that they all fit a pattern."
Linking the crimes
Many facets of the five murders connect them, Ressler said.
All of the victims, he said, had similar physical characteristics. All were between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed between 100 and 120 pounds. All but Povolish had brown hair and, shortly before she died, Povolish dyed hers from brown to blond.
Ressler said the killer apparently abducted or used a ruse to entice the women into his car, or in Cardenas' case, into the creek bed. He believes none were abducted initially by force. Even though other people were in the area where some of the women were abducted or killed, none reported hearing or seeing anything that would have indicated a struggle.
Ressler also said that all of the bodies were moved and concealed.
None of the crime scenes produced any physical evidence - hair, fingerprints or fiber - from the killer. And none of the victims had defensive wounds - bruising on the arms or flesh under their fingernails. That shows the killer had complete control over them when they were murdered, Ressler says.
"In these crimes, all seven (including the Lanmans), the similarities outweigh the differences," he said.
Ressler calls all the murders "organized crimes." Murderers, he said, fall into two categories - organized and disorganized.
A disorganized criminal would grab a woman as she was washing her car, attack her at the spur of the moment and kill her without thinking about being caught. Such killers often leave physical evidence and the murder weapon.
"All these crimes were the work of an organized killer," Ressler said.
An organized killer like Anderson carefully plans his crime, he said.
In the Lanman killings, Anderson went to Jolaine Lanman's door on the afternoon of Sept. 27, 1989, posing as a potential home buyer. He carried what Ressler calls a "murder kit" - a bag with gloves, rope, tape and scalpels - to aid him in the killings and to help him remove any evidence.
That alone, Ressler said, shows that Anderson methodically planned his attack.
Anderson placed a garrote, a loop of rope, around Lanman's neck. Ressler believes Anderson used the garrote to force Jolaine Lanman to write the note implicating the three supervisors. The garrote shows Anderson was a sophisticated serial killer, he said.
"It's a very devastating tool," he said.
Anderson's method changed with the Lanmans, Ressler said. Instead of simply abducting a young woman off the street, he killed Jolaine Lanman to frame the supervisors, he said.
"So, now, the obsession has carried beyond just committing these homicides" to making them fit a carefully crafted plan, he said.
After the Lanman murders, police searched Anderson's house and found what Ressler considers circumstantial evidence that ties Anderson to the other crimes.
They discovered detective magazines, often found in the homes of serial killers, who use the photographs to fantasize about crimes, Ressler said.
Investigators also found four other murder kits: locked briefcases filled with guns, knives, scalpels, handcuffs and rubber gloves. Ressler said the kits are something many serial killers own.
More telling, Ressler said, are the file folders police found in Anderson's wall safe. They were filled with notes, memos, faked police reports and newspaper clippings about the Cardenas homicide.
Anderson also kept a diary in the briefcases. He wrote that Cardenas went jogging the night of her abduction and that he jogged along behind her. He also described how he went back to her apartment to clean up "hair, fiber and fingerprints."
"He's putting himself there. He's writing it in his diary and he's admi tted going to her apartment," Ressler said. "He talks about Cardenas' married boyfriend. He read the damned letter off her kitchen table."
The letter from Cardenas' boyfriend, telling Cardenas that he was going back to his wife, was found on Cardenas' kitchen table after she disappeared.
The police also found a mysterious school identification card from Mexico with the picture of a young boy named Jorge Compos Cardenas in Anderson's wall safe. Anderson explains that he got the card on the night of Cardenas' murder from a man who he said had witnessed Cardenas' abduction.
Police were unable to locate the owner of the identification card. Last year the Post-Dispatch found him working for a railroad in Juarez, Mexico. He said he had no idea how Anderson got the card, which he believed he lost while living illegally in Texas. He said he had never been to Illinois. Audrey Cardenas had lived in Texas all of her life.
Ressler believes Anderson took the card from Cardenas to keep as a "souvenir." Serial killers often take such mementos - photos, rings and other personal items - from their victims.
In the safe, police also found two other files filled with newspaper clippings - one on the Povolish case, the other on the killing of the unidentified woman near Summerfield.
"How can (the police) look past the fact that this guy's keeping files on all of these missing and murdered women?" Ressler asked.
Anderson had even more direct ties to the women, he said.
* Anderson had gone to church with West at the Union United Methodist Church in Belleville, where she sang in the youth choir. Both were parishioners. Anderson's family knew the West family.
At the time of the Jany killing, Anderson had made evening visits to see his ailing father in the same hospital where Jany worked evenings.
* Anderson worked at the Belleville public aid office where Povolish went every month to keep receiving her benefits. It is unclear whether Anderson was her caseworker.
* Povolish frequently went to the home of her boyfriend's parents, who lived across the street from Anderson's parents. A person who knows Anderson said Anderson spent long periods watching Povolish and her boyfriend working on a car.
Anderson was at any of the other victims' funerals.
If Anderson was not involved in the murders, it is not likely that he would have "so many connections with so many missing and murdered women," Ressler said.
Ressler said Anderson had other traits common to serial killers. He was obsessed with being a cop and even told others, including his parents, that he was a police investigator.
Ressler said many serial killers want to be police officers because the y crave control. David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, was a security guard, and John Wayne Gacy often posed as a police officer.
"That's how a lot of these guys get control over their victims," Ressler said.
At the time of every murder, Anderson was having serious problems in his job.
That was the most telling factor indicating Anderson was a serial killer, Ressler said. Such stress frequently causes serial killers to act, he said.
When West and Jany were murdered, Anderson was having problems as a jailer at the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. He got caught sneaking a gun into the jail and was later fired.
But if Anderson killed all the women, how does Ressler explain the eight-year gap between the second murder, in 1978, and the third, in 1986?
Ressler said such an interlude isn't uncommon as stress and the urge to kill subside during certain periods. He believes Anderson may have stopped killing because his job at the welfare office satisfied his need to control women, who were forced to follow his directions to get their benefits.
Anderson began running into trouble with his supervisors in the fall of 1986, about the time that the unidentified woman found near Summerfield was murdered.
Anderson's problems at the public aid office continued through June 1988 when he was suspended and later fired for canceling the cases of clients without their knowledge, for being disruptive and for refusing to follow orders. Povolish and Cardenas were killed in July 1987 and June 1988.
"During every case, he's got some kind of conflict going on in his life," Ressler said.
A killer's personality
Ressler said neither Woidtke nor Bowman have the type of personalities that would link to them to the Cardenas, West and Jany murders.
Both men are what Ressler calls "disorganized offenders," who, if they killed, would have acted without a plan and left evidence behind.
Ressler believes Woidtke's paranoid schizophrenic condition would have prevented him from planning anything in his life, much less a murder. He was homeless, Ressler said, and couldn't even plan for his own shelter or food.
When someone lured Cardenas into the overgrown creek on June 19, 1988, she had to have been told something convincing enough to make her voluntarily walk in the creek for 120 feet with her killer, as the footprint evidence suggests, Ressler said.
"If she was fantasizing that she was going to break a big story, and Anderson said, `Hey. I'll walk you down and I'll show you something that will blow your mind down in this creek bed,' she probably would have gone," Ressler said.
"But the way Rodney Woidtke looked, being homeless and everything, if she'd seen him, she'd be running the other way."
Moreover, someone as disorganized as Woidtke would never have gone back to the crime scene and argued with police the day Cardenas' body was found, Ressler said.
Woidtke first became a suspect and was arrested when he appeared near the creek bed on the day Cardenas' body was found.
"Police are saying that because he came back to the crime scene, he was the killer," Ressler said. "That's a lot of bull. He would be long gone."
Anderson had the kind of personality that would draw him back to the crime scene, Ressler said. Anderson has repeatedly said in interviews that he was sitting in his car on the school parking lot that day watching Heil collect evidence.
Bowman, like Woidtke, also had a personality that precluded his planning a crime, Ressler said. His crimes show he acted spontaneously without attempting to cover his tracks, traits that show he was a disorganized personality, he said.
Weeks after Jany's disappearance, Bowman got in an argument with a woman at a laundromat because she wouldn't give him change. Drunk and high from marijuana, Bowman dragged her to his car kicking and screaming, drove off and let her out blocks away.
Bowman said he grabbed the woman because he feared she would tell police that he had accosted her.
Whoever abducted West and Jany carefully planned those acts, Ressler said. West was less than a block from her home when she disappeared. Witnesses saw her walking down her street, then saw a full-size, late-model car. When the car was gone, so was West. None of the witnesses heard West scream or saw the driver get out of the car.
A disorganized criminal, like Bowman, would have dragged her into the car, and her screams would have attracted the witnesses' attention, Ressler said.
Jany was taken from a well-lit and often-visited automated teller machine in downtown Belleville. No one heard or saw anything.
"What they did in these cases was match these suspects to the crime scenes because they were convenient," Ressler said.
Sgt. Robert Miller, the St. Clair County sheriff's deputy to who took Bowman's confession, said he is still convinced of Bowman's guilt.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Bowman killed those two people," Miller said. "Anderson killed one person and they want to say he did every crime."
Justus, the county sheriff, said he hopes some day Anderson will tell about of all of his crimes.
"Maybe as he gets older, if he gets some kind of illness that could take his life, he may want to tell it all," Justus said. "I don't see that happening right now."
THE BASIS FOR THIS REPORT
Robert K. Ressler conducted a review of the murders of Audrey Cardenas and four other women. He studied crime scene photographs, autopsy findings, police reports, court records and newspaper accounts of the crimes. The Post-Dispatch hired Ressler to do the analysis. He was paid $2,000.
Ressler, 62, worked for the FBI from 1970 to 1990. He was the first manager of the department's program to profile killers by examining crime scenes and by studying the psychology that motivates them. He has helped police track down dozens of serial killers.
Ressler has interviewed more than 50 of the world's most notorious serial killers, including John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. He's written four books on the habits and the minds of killers, including two textbooks used to train police.
Robert K. Ressler says these are the
Characteristics of a serial killer
*Is a psychopath with an obsessive/compulsive personality.
* Kept "murder kits," briefcases with weapons, rope, tape, rubber gloves and condoms.
*Carried guns, handcuffs, blackjacks and phony police identification and badges.
*Was obsessed with police work and with becoming a police officer.
* Read true detective magazines, a staple of serial killers.
*Has a controlling personality who challenges authority and had difficulty getting along with coworkers.
*Was ineffective in his job; he did not attain a position equal to his college education.
* Is manipulative, cunning and a liar.
* Is intelligent.
* Kept files on missing and murdered women.
Ressler says this is
How the murders are linked:
*All victims were young women with similar physical characteristics (all were small and most were dark-haired).
*All are believed to have been strangled.
* All are believed to have been abducted in or near Belleville.
*All were taken from the point of their abduction to another location and then killed.
*All of the victims were moved after they were killed.
*All of the bodies were concealed.
*All were found relatively close to the areas where they were abducted.
*All were murdered by a so-called "organized" killer.
*There was little or no physical evidence found at any of the crime scenes.
* No defensive wounds were found on any of the victims, indicating the killer was in complete control of his victims.
Ressler cites these reasons
Why Anderson killed all five victims:
*He appeared to have at least some link to each of the identified victims.
*He kept files on at least three of the murder cases.
*He followed the cases in the media.
*He attended a funeral service for at least one of the victims and possibly others.
*Anderson was between the ages of 26 and 36 at the times of the killings, the optimum age span for a serial killer.
*Anderson was undergoing personal and job-related stress at the time of each of the murders.
*The Lanman murder scene indicates that Anderson had killed others before murdering the Lanmans.
*All of the abductions and murders were committed in the vicinity of Anderson's home.
*All of the murders apparently occurred during the evening or weekends, during a time when Anderson would not have been working.
*There is no physical evidence linking anyone else to any of the crimes and even though two other men confessed to three of the murders, the confessions do not match the crime scenes.
*Anderson fits the profile of a serial killer.
*Anderson had a car at the time of all of the murders, allowing him to transport his victims or leave the scenes of his crimes easily.
(1) Color Photo headshot - Robert K. Ressler
(2) Photo by Laurie Skrivan / Post-Dispatch - Dale R. Anderson