Woman’s slaying unsolved after 20 years

INDEX — Jennifer Burnetto walked out of jail and into the path of a killer.

Burnetto, a mother of two, was last seen alive June 10, 1988 shortly after being freed from the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma. Two weeks later a man walking his dog found her body. She’d been dumped more than 80 miles away in east Snohomish County.

Burnetto, 32, was stabbed to death. The killer tried to hide her. She was left near a remote logging road east of Index. Her naked body was partially buried by rocks and dirt.

For more than 20 years the killer has never been caught.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives included Burnetto’s slaying in the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. She is featured on the nine of spades.

The cards have been handed out in prisons and jails around Washington. Inmates are offered a reward for providing information that leads to an arrest in the county’s dozens of unsolved homicides and missing persons cases dating back to the 1970s.

Cold-case playing cards have helped police in Florida make a handful of arrests, and more police departments are turning to the cards in hopes of generating new leads in stalled investigations.

Snohomish County homicide detectives were four months into investigating Burnetto’s slaying when another woman’s body turned up at a former logging site north of Index. Someone had tried to hide Robin Kenworthy’s body under logs and other forest debris.

Police didn’t ignore the similarities.

Both women had fallen prey to heroin. Both took to the streets to feed their addictions. Both were dumped in remote locations miles from where they were last seen alive.

There were differences, too, but detectives explored the possibility that the women were killed by the same person, including the Green River Killer.

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives in 2004 spoke with Gary Ridgway after he admitted he was responsible for killing 48 women in King County. He didn’t give police any clues that he killed Burnetto or Kenworthy, sheriff’s detective Jim Scharf said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, 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.

Anyone with information about unsolved homicides and missing persons cases is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 800-222-TIPS (8477). Up to $1,000 is offered for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction.

Tips also can be called into the sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845. Callers may remain anonymous, although tips have been shown to be more successful when callers leave their phone numbers and are willing to speak with detectives, police said.

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