GPS device throws suspicion on Yates in Yakima death

Herald news services

SPOKANE — Yakima County law enforcement officers are trying to determine if the 1988 slaying of a prostitute is tied to serial killer Robert L. Yates Jr. of Spokane.

The body of Geni Harrop, 34, was found near the U.S. Army’s Yakima Training Center. Yates, who recently admitted 13 murders around the state, was a former Army helicopter pilot who made trips to the training base.

Yakima County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Garcia said Friday the investigation was focusing on a diamond ring that Harrop normally wore. It was missing when her body was found.

Yates earlier this year confessed to killing 10 women in Spokane County in 1997-98, a woman in Skagit County in 1988 and a man and woman near Walla Walla in 1975. He was sentenced in October to 408 years in prison.

Yates is now in jail in Tacoma, awaiting trial in two homicides in Pierce County.

The Yakima possibility came to light recently with the revelation that a computerized global positioning system receiver was found in a search of Yates’ home after his April 18 arrest.

Spokane County officials developed a computer-generated map plotting the 72 locations stored on Yates’ GPS device. One of the GPS readings was for an area near where Harrop was killed, Garcia said.

  • Robber shoots teen girl: A 16-year-old girl was shot through both shins during an armed robbery at a mail store on Friday afternoon. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said a man entered the Mail Box Center in the Spokane Valley and herded two customers, the owner and her 16-year-old daughter into a back room. The robber began handcuffing the victims, and at some point his gun discharged, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Reagan said. The shooting may have been accidental, he said. The girl was struck in both shins, but her wounds were not considered life-threatening.

  • Jury to hear "gift club" lawsuit: A state lawsuit that contends a "gift club" called the Renewal Celebration is an illegal pyramid scheme will be decided by a jury, Benton County Superior Judge Craig Matheson has ruled. A trial date was not set. Organizers say the Tri-Cities-based club is a means for ordinary citizens to help each other get out of debt. But the Attorney General’s Office, which filed the lawsuit in March, contends it and similar clubs are pyramid schemes that pay off for a few people who join early but inevitably take money from others who join later. Members typically paid $500 to $5,000 to join Renewal Celebration. As more members joined, earlier members would work their way up the pyramid, toward a goal of a payoff many times bigger when they reached the top.

  • Child molester flees justice: An Ashland child molester whose light sentence was thrown out by an appeals court has fled rather than face resentencing. An arrest warrant for Arthur Silverman, 61, was issued by Jackson County probation officers. Silverman was arrested in December 1996 for molesting two boys. At the time, Silverman was working as a counselor specializing in sexually abused children. The victims were not involved in his counseling job.

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