Identifying Victim of ‘Happy Face Killer’ After 3 Decades: Police Seek Help

Riverside, California – More than three decades after a woman was murdered by the “Happy Face Killer,” police and prosecutors are seeking the public’s help to identify the victim. The woman was the last unidentified victim of Keith Jesperson, known as the “Happy Face Killer,” who was convicted of her murder in 1992.

The Riverside County district attorney, Mike Hestrin, stated that the goal of the new nationwide effort is to provide closure to the victim’s family by identifying her. Investigators have referred to her as “Claudia,” as Jesperson, the convicted murderer, has called her. However, they are unsure if that is her real name.

According to law enforcement interviews, Jesperson claimed that he met “Claudia” at a brake check area near Victorville, California, while working as a trucker. He confessed to killing her during an argument about money and dumping her body in Blythe. Jesperson described her as a woman with shaggy, wild blonde hair in her early twenties to thirties, wearing tight clothing, and living in or frequenting Southern California and Nevada.

Recent advances in DNA technology and tips from the public have given investigators hope of identifying the victim. Forensic investigators and genealogists have traced her to a deceased father from Texas who traveled extensively and to half-siblings who were unaware of her existence. Jesperson, a long-haul trucker and father of three, terrorized the country in the ’90s, claiming to have killed women in five states. His killing spree lasted from 1990 to 1995, when he turned himself in to police.

The unidentified woman’s body was found on the side of a highway in California in 1992. Jesperson pleaded guilty to her murder years later and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. He earned the nickname the “Happy Face Killer” due to the smiley faces he drew on a letter he sent to a newspaper bragging about his crimes.

In conclusion, the Riverside County officials are hopeful that with the help of the public and advances in DNA technology, they will be able to provide closure to the family of the unidentified victim of the “Happy Face Killer.”