http://www.kirotv.com/investigations/25914424/detail.htmlCold Case Leads Jefferson County Detectives To New Remains
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter
Posted: 5:36 pm PST November 24, 2010
Updated: 5:38 pm PST November 25, 2010
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Wash. -- While following new leads on a cold case double-murder, Jefferson County detectives have stumbled onto what they believe are the remains of yet another unsolved homicide.
KIRO Team 7 Investigators first reported in September that police were looking into the possibility that some charred bones, found on Protection Island years ago, might be tied to a missing Port Townsend mother or her little boy. Althea and Jeffrey Blankenship disappeared in March of 1973 -- last seen in the company of a former county engineer who frequently worked on that island.
New evidence suggests the remains belong to a different, unknown murder victim.
Something terrible happened here on Protection Island in the early 1970's. Team 7 Investigators spoke with witnesses who remember the burning of a massive debris pile followed by the smell of flesh.
A never-before-seen photo of what appears to be a bone-infused ash pile from that day, was offered to police following the airing of a Team 7 Investigation in September.
The picture was part of an extensive diary listing daily events on Protection Island as it was being developed. A dated entry in the diary says the charred human remains were found in late 1972, several months before Althea and Jeffery Blankenship disappeared. That means a third, still unidentified murder victim, was burned on that pile in 1973.
"It certainly isn't what we were hoping for but, this is the nature of working on old things," said retired homicide detective Bob Gebo, now works on the Jefferson County cold case murder squad. "You follow the leads and where ever they lead you and sometimes you get more, sometimes you don't."
The latest development leaves cold case detectives far from discouraged. They tell us they still believe Althea's former landlord, Glenn Bagley, knows where the bodies are buried.
Kent cold case detectives think Bagley also killed his ex-wife, Ester Mae Gesler, in 1976. He hasn't been charged with either crime.
Last year, KIRO 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne tracked down and spoke with Bagley in Manila, Philippines. On camera, Halsne asked Bagley why he thought detectives believe he killed Gesler, plus Althea and Jeffrey Blankenship.
Bagley: "It might be something the police made up. I know when they do stuff they can lie or do anything they want to trick people into saying stuff, ya know."
Halsne: "They got the target on you."
Bagley: "That might not be true, ya know, so."
Team 7 Investigators have learned that because of our interview in Southeast Asia and our extensive reporting on these cold cases, detectives are following yet another new lead. Their unindicted suspect, Glenn Bagley, routinely flew a plane around the time his alleged victims disappeared. Based on a new tip, the cold case unit located Bagley’s old plane and are processing it for evidence.
Gebo told Halsne that every new clue helps progress this case toward a conclusion.
"I'm not any less enthusiastic about Mr. Bagley's involvement in the disappearance of these people," Gebo said. "We just don't know where they are. When you look at where we are today -- as opposed to when we first picked up this case -- we're miles ahead."
That picture of the burn pile is right now being analyzed by forensic experts at the King County Medical Examiner's Office for additional clues. A planned, future excavation of Protection Island in search for more remains is still possible. Because it's now a national bird sanctuary, the Department of the Interior has to give the OK.