The King County Sheriff’s Office announced this week that it has identified the last known remains of the Green River Killer case as belonging to Tammie Liles.
The partial remains were found at a location investigators were led to in 2003, and labeled “Bones 20,” due to an inability to confirm identity when located.
Identification was completed after extensive testing and research by Othram, a forensic sequencing laboratory contracted by the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) to do forensic genetic genealogy (FGG) testing.
With this identification, police said that there are no other unidentified remains associated with the Green River Case.
In the fall of 2022, members of the King County Sheriff’s Office met with Othram representatives and discussed the “Bones 20” case. Additional attempts to identify the remains throughout the years had been unsuccessful. Othram was contracted to attempt to build a suitable DNA profile and conduct associated FGG research if they were successful.
In August 2023, Othram notified KCSO that they successfully built a DNA profile for the unknown victim and their in-house forensic genetic genealogy team had tentatively identified “Bones 20” as Tammie Liles, who was first identified as a victim in 1988 through the match of dental records to a separate set of discovered remains at a location in King County.
The mother of Tammie Liles was later contacted, and detectives obtained a DNA sample from her. This sample was sent to the University of North Texas which was then able to identify using traditional STR and mitochondrial DNA testing that the remains are also those of Tammie Liles.
In 1985, the remains of two unidentified women were found near the Tualatin Golf Course near Tigard, Oregon. Later, one of these remains was identified through dental records as Tammy Liles.
In June 1985, the remains of two other women were found nearby off Bull Mountain Road, just outside Tigard, Oregon. Green River Detectives went to assist with the search of that site. Those two females were soon identified as Denise Bush and Shirley Sherrill. Both were on the Green River Missing Person List and had last been seen in the Seattle area in October 1982.
Gary Ridgway was interviewed about all these cases in 2002 and 2003. He admitted responsibility for the murders of Bush and Sherrill in King County and stated that he moved the bones of each to the Tigard site sometime later. This was confirmed in the Bush case by the presence of remains in both Washington and Oregon. Ridgway took investigators to the location where he originally left Sherrill’s body, but nothing was found to confirm his claims. Ridgway at that time denied responsibility for the murders of Liles and the other unidentified female found near her, who was later identified as Angela Girdner.
In 2003, Gary Ridgway led investigators to a site on the Kent-Des Moines Road where he claimed that he had left a victim’s body. A search of the area turned up several bones and some teeth. No skull was found and most of the major bones were absent. Samples of the remains were sent to the University of North Texas who obtained a DNA profile for the victim, which was uploaded into NDIS, a national database that contains the DNA profiles of missing people and unidentified remains. With no identification made on these remains, investigators labeled her as “Bones 20.”
In November 2003, Ridgway pled guilty to the murder of “Bones 20,” Denise Bush, and Shirley Sherrill, along with 45 other victims, and was sentenced to life in prison. He would later plead guilty to the 49th victim.
While Liles had originally been identified as a victim in 1988, the discovery of “Bones 20” in King County and subsequent forensic testing last year has concluded that the remains are those of Liles.
“The King County Sheriff’s Office is immensely grateful for the work of Othram Forensic Sequencing Laboratory, The University of North Texas, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, and all others who worked on helping to identify Tammie Liles,” KCSO said.