Woman whose body was found in August may be victim of serial killer
Wednesday, April 22, 1998
IDAHO FALLS -- An 18-year-old Wyoming woman who was found dead last August beside a highway on-ramp in eastern Idaho may have been the victim of a serial killer.
Bonneville County Sheriff's detectives are working with law enforcement agencies in Utah, Wyoming and Nevada to tie the death of Tonya Teske to seven other murders committed in the region.
The department has never released a cause of death in the case but has always treated it as a homicide. Officials have said the autopsy and a series of tests by the state crime lab did not give a definitive cause of death. Most of the other victims were either shot or strangled.
A newspaper article in The Salt Lake City Tribune on Nov. 4, 1994, said that a killer known as the Great Basin serial killer was thought to be responsible for six murders at that time. At least four of those victims are also on the list of murders potentially related to Teske's death, according to a statement issued on Monday by the Bonneville County Sheriff's Department.
At different times, detectives have said there was a suspect in her death. In October they reported finding evidence in the Island Park area related to the case. The suspect was a truck driver who lives in Idaho, Bonneville County Sheriff Byron Stommel said at the time.
A couple found Teske's body Aug. 15 lying beside the southbound entrance to U.S. Highway 20 near Ucon. It took detectives 10 days to identify her.
A trucker saw a sketch of Teske on television and told authorities that he was at a truck stop in Belgrade, Mont., when local deputies questioned Teske about soliciting sex via a citizens band radio.
Like the other murdered women, Teske hitched rides with truckers along interstates 15, 80 and 90.
"Her life kind of centered around truck stops and truckers," Stommel said last summer.
And as most of the others, Teske was found naked, limiting the available evidence in the case. Five victims remain unidentified.
All showed some evidence of sexual assault. Initially, detectives said Teske was not sexually assaulted, but Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Wilde said there is some evidence consistent with a sexual assault.
The victims in each case were physically assaulted around the head and face.