Police seek clues in 20-year-old slaying

INDEX — Robyn Kenworthy sounded worn out when she called her mom.

She wanted to come home. The 20-year-old needed a break from the streets and her on-again, off-again love affair with heroin. She planned to catch a bus on Aurora Avenue. Her mom never heard from her again.

Kenworthy’s body was found Oct. 22, 1988 near Index. She was naked. Someone dumped her on a pile of brush. Investigators couldn’t determine how she died.

In death, Kenworthy has returned on the king of clubs. She is part of the state’s first set of cold-case playing cards. Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives recently put the cards in jails to generate leads about unsolved slayings and missing persons cases that date back to the 1970s.

Detectives in the past aired suspicions that Kenworthy may have died at the hands of prolific serial killer Gary Ridgway. She fit the description of the women Ridgway hunted. Snohomish County detectives interviewed Ridgway after he admitted to killing 48 women in King County. He gave no hint that Kenworthy could be among his victims, sheriff’s officials said.

Judy Kenworthy doesn’t think she’ll ever know who killed her child. Too many years have passed. Her daughter’s drug addiction led her down a dark, twisted path littered with dealers, addicts and men who paid for sex. Those kind of people usually don’t live long enough to give up their secrets, Judy Kenworthy said.

Still, she thinks about facing the killer one day. She knows what she would say.

“Do you know what you took from me? Do you know what you took from her grandparents? Do you know what you took from my son and stepdaughter?”

Her daughter was sensitive, beautiful and intelligent. She was great with kids and old people. She had a great sense of humor.

“She had a lot of potential that was thrown away,” Judy Kenworthy said. “First by her and then by whoever killed her.”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

About this series

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives created the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. Each Sunday for a year, The Herald will publish a story about a case featured on one of the cards. The 52 cards can be viewed on The Herald’s Web site.

Anyone with information about unsolved homicides or missing persons cases is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Up to a $1,000 reward is offered. Tips also can be left on the sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845. Callers may remain anonymous, although tips have been more successful when callers speak with detectives, police said.

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