The good news is that detectives in Spokane County, Wash., believe they've identified the man who murdered a woman, and possibly two others, 52 years ago. The bad news is that the 85-year-old suspect died three days before detectives obtained an arrest warrant for first-degree murder on Friday. Duke J. Pierson died of natural causes in Covington County, Ala., on Jan. 22, roughly 10 months after he denied wrongdoing in an interview with investigators, reports KOMO News. Nonetheless, detectives believe Pierson killed 31-year-old Dorothy Fielding, a female coworker with whom he was rumored to be having an affair. Cigarette butts were found in her car ashtray after she vanished in August 1967, though she didn't smoke, and Pierson did. Eight months later, her body was discovered in her supermarket uniform in a shallow grave in an off-road park near Spokane.
A few years after that, the body of a Fielding acquaintance who disappeared in June 1967 was found in a shallow grave in the same park, just 1.8 miles away from where Fielding was buried, per KREM. But until a tip arrived last April, detectives had no idea that Fielding knew 47-year-old Ruby Lampson; both women were known to frequent the same tavern. Detectives now suspect Pierson is to blame for both of their deaths and that of his wife. In the month following Fielding's disappearance, 33-year-old Sandra Pierson was found dead in her exhaust-filled car in the couple's closed garage in what was reported as a suicide, though her children believe she was too small to close the "heavy and possibly malfunctioning garage door" on her own, per KOMO. Authorities are seeking tips as they continue to investigate. (A man is charged in a teen's 1979 stabbing death.)