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The Case Files of Keith Hunter Jesperson

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1 The Case Files of Keith Hunter Jesperson
The Happy Face Killer The Case Files of Keith Hunter Jesperson

2 Keith’s Childhood Keith’s father was abusive, mentally and physically. He beat him when he did something wrong and treated Keith different from all his other siblings. Keith had to pay rent and he also had to do all the chores that his siblings didn’t have to do. His mother was emotionally unattached. Keith learned from his father about killing animals, especially neighborhood cats, at a young age. Throughout the book, experts stated that one of the signs of a serial killer is torturing/murdering animals as a child.

3 Murder Number One: Taunja Bennett
Keith met Taunja outside a bar in Portland, Oregon. Taunja was mildly retarded. Keith took Taunja back to his house and he raped her. He punched her face over 22 times, breaking her nose, her jaw, and causing her teeth to cut through her lips. However, she was still conscious. Finally he strangled her for 5 minutes before she finally died.

4 Taunja Bennett cont... Keith then took Taunja’s body to a ravine near Crown Point in Oregon, where he dumped it. He cut aways the buttons on her jeans so any fingerprints that may exist wouldn’t connect him to the murder. Then, he threw her purse and walkman into a blackberry patch. This proves to be a very vital move later in the case. (Location of Taunja Bennett’s purse)

5 Laverne Pavlinac and John Sosnovske
Laverne Pavlinac confessed to helping her boyfriend, John Sosnovske, murder Taunja Bennet. He received life in prison and she was sentanced to 10 years as an accomplice in the murder. Laverne proved they murdered her by showing police the buttons that was believed to have been cut from Taunja’s jeans.

6 Murder Number Two: Claudia
Keith picked up Claudia at a truck stop. He wouldn’t buy her drugs so she threatened to turn him in for assaulting her. To keep her from escaping he tied her up using duct tape and strangled her. Then he raped her multiple times . He played a “death game” with her and finally strangled her to death. He dumped her body in a brushy canyon in Blythe, California. (Location of Claudia’s body)

7 Murder Number Three:Cynthia
Cynthia was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. She asked Keith for a good time and he said he wasn’t in the mood, maybe later. Then, she busted into his truck later in the night and he just snapped. He strangled her to death. He broke her neck, making sure she was dead, then simply threw her body into a garbage pile outside the Blueberry Hill Café near Livingston, CA.

8 Murder Number Four: Laurie Pentland
Laurie was a “lot lizard” which is a nice word for a hooker. After Keith paid her she told him he had to pay double and that made him angry. He strangled her off and on for an hour, playing his “death game” with her until he finally killed her. He dumped her body in a pile of brush behind GI Joe’s in Salem, Oregon.

9 Murder Number Five: Cindy
Cindy was a homeless woman in Corning, California. She just wanted to get to Salines, California and begged Keith to take her there. He killed her because he said she was “asking for it.” Keith told her that he was going to kill her but she didn’t believe him. Finally, after he got what he wanted from her, he played his game with her and killed her after her fifth time of losing consciousness. He dumped her body behind some rock piles somewhere along I-5 in California.

10 Julie Winningham Keith met Julie at a truck stop in Troutdale, Oregon. He talked to her for hours and invited her to come with him on his next trip. She accepted. He started to fall in love. The only thing wrong with her was she did drugs, and didn’t like that he didn’t do them. However, he did buy her marijuana. Soon she began cheating on him with his friend so he dumped her. They had been dating off and on for a year and a half. But that wasn’t the end of their story…

11 Murder Number Six: Susanna
(Keith is unsure of name, probably Susanna) Keith picked up Susanna in Florida. She wanted a ride to Lake Tahoe, California and he told her he could take her. He was unsure about whether to kill her or not, but in the end he killed her. He was scared of getting caught because she screamed whenever she could. He dumped her in the brush alongside the road somewhere and fastened white plastic zip ties around her neck to he could claim her as his kill once he got caught.

12 Murder Number Seven: Angela Surbrize
Keith met Angela at the Ridpath Hotel in Spokane, Washington. They had a really good night together and she actually survived. Then she asked him to take her to Denver to see her father. He agreed. But soon, her dad didn’t want to see her so her plans changed and now she was headed to her boyfriend in Indiana. She told Keith she thought she was pregnant and she was going to trick her old boyfriend into thinking it’s his. Then she said that she thought about tricking him (Keith) but he would have wanted to marry her and she didn’t want that. Ridpath Hotel, Spokane, WA

13 Angela Surbize Cont. Soon Angela got impatient about getting to Indiana. That was her downfall. She kept waking Keith up while he was trying to sleep and finally he had had enough. Keith tied her with duct tape and raped her multiple times. He got angrier when she tried to reach for her mace. (He had already taken it from her purse.) He had to be sure he killed her because he had connections to her like she used his credit card and they had been seen together, ect. So, he taped her hands in front of her so her fingerprints would disappear. Then he tied her up under his truck, behind the wheels so she wouldn’t be seen. He tied her ankles to the bottom of the truck. Then he drove. This grinded away her fingerprints and her face so she couldn’t be identified. Then he dumped what was left into a grassy bank.

14 The Return of Julie Keith spotted Julie at the same truck stop in Oregon that they had met at before. He knew she was going to use him but he figured he would use her first, so he played along with her games. They even got engaged. Soon she was asking for money for everything; her DUI’s, her wrecked car, marijuana, court costs, ect. She threatened him that if he didn’t pay up she would report him for raping her, which he actually didn’t do.

15 Murder Number Eight: Julie Winningham
Keith strangled Julie until she passed out. Then he began to drive. After awhile he slammed on the breaks, making her fall off the bed and cut her forehead on the metal part of the seat. Then he raped her. Soon he played his death game with her and finally strangled her to death. He dumped her body on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. After this murder, he cried. Columbia Gorge, Washington

16 Jesperson’s Confessions
Keith confessed multiple times before he turned himself in. He wrote a confession on bathroom stall in a Greyhound rest stop in Livingston, Montana. The confession stated, “I killed Taunja Bennet January 21, 1990 in Portland, Oregon. I beat her to death, raped her and loved it. Yes. I’m sick, but I enjoy myself too. People took the blame and I’m free.” He also sent multiple letters to Oregon’s Statesman Journal with confessions that were ignored. him

17 Confessions Cont. After seeing an article about the alleged murderers of Taunja Bennet in the paper Keith was furious that everyone ignored his confession, so he wrote another one and sent it to the Washington County Court house. “I killed Miss Bennett Jan and left her 1 ½ miles east of Lateral Falls on the switchback. I used ½” soft nylon rope burnt on one end- frayed cut on the other- and tied it around her neck. Her face her teeth protruded from her mouth. Death was caused by my right fist pushed into her throat until she quit moving. Threw her Walkman away. Her purse $2.00- I threw into the Sandy River. I cut the buttons off her jeans. I had raped her before her death. I left her facing downhill and her jeans down by her ankles. I did not know any of them.” He signed with a smiley face. The confession was ignored, again.

18 Confessions Cont. When his confession was ignored he wrote another one. This time he wrote a letter, fully describing the murer and how much he enjoyed it. He sent this letter to the Oregonian. This time there was a reaction. The Oregonian printed the letter but no one believed it because the “murderers” had already been caught.

19 Justice After evading the law for around five years, justice finally caught up with Keith Jesperson. He was arrested March 30th, 1995 for the murder of his fiancé Julie Winningham, which he later confessed to. Soon after he confessed to multiple other murders. No one believed him at first, but he told authorities exactly where all the bodies were and identified each of them specifically. It is unclear how many murders he actually did commit because he has been caught lying multiple times. An interview with Keith explains why he lies... “I built their cases foundation out of lies that I alone can tear apart in court. When it is all over, the truth will be shown to exist. The prosecutions case will fall apart and my jury will know the truth. They will not like the truth because it is relatively simple and not gory in what the prosecution would like everyone to believe. I have orchastrated this case from the start and know what will happen in the end. The prosecution cannot have me both ways. Either I'm credible or I'm not believeable. “ (

20 Closing the Taunja Bennett Murder
Soon the truth came out about Taunja. Keith took credit for this murder by leading police to the sight where he dumped her purse, in the blackberry patch alongside the road. It was still there, 5 years later. Her drivers license was inside, identifying the owner. Then the real story came out. Laverne Pavlinac was being abused by John Sosnovski. She made up the tale of their murder so she would be free of his abuse. She hoped he would be locked up forever and she would be safe when she was released from jail. She later confessed she had cut the buttons from her daughters jeans.

21 Closing Thoughts I believe that if Keith’s conscious hadn’t gotten the better of him, he would have gotten away with murder. He was smart. He made murder easy. As I read the book I was shocked that he got away with it, but then I thought about it and I wasn’t. He raped and murdered people that no one would know was missing. He hid them, and covered his tracks impeccably. He was the perfect murderer. I do believe that his childhood played a role in who he has become and I saw his struggles throughout the book. It helped me to see the other side of the story. The side of the murderer, not the victim. The inner struggle between his murderous impulses and his desperate need to be loved. That was all he wanted in the end. Someone to love him.

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