Murder case immortalized on TV show
- Christina Lent
- Beaverton Valley Times - News
Team leaders who brought down a serial killer reunite two decades later
Tru TV's Body of Evidence will reopen the case files of Randall Woodfield, who became known as the I-5 Killer, following a break in the investigation into the Feb. 14, 1981, murder and sexual assault of Beaverton resident Julie Ann Reitz.
In Saturday night's broadcast, Beaverton Police Chief David Bishop and former Marion County District Attorney Chris Van Dyke will team up after more than two decades to detail the months of detective work that linked Reitz's tragic death to an ever-growing trail of Woodfield's victims.
It will also shed light on the discovery and prosecution of 'a modern day monster.'
'In our show we share the stories of important cases in a way that honors the victims of these horrible crimes and is respectful of survivors,' said Libby Sallaway, a field producer for Body of Evidence. 'We work to educate the public about the hard work that goes into solving these cases and the detectives and prosecutors who work to put the people who commit these crimes in jail.'
Forensic profiler Dayle Hinman and a production crew from the show began filming for the high-profile I-5 Killer case last September in Beaverton.
The team spent four days filming in different locations across the city, including City Hall, the Sidelines Bar in Bethany and in the Hyland Hills neighborhood where Reitz was found shot and assaulted in her Cherryhill Drive home.
Wanting to emphasize how important the Beaverton case was in identifying Woodfield as the I-5 Killer, the show reunited two key players in the multi-agency investigation and prosecution team.
'It brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad,' said Bishop, who in 1981 served as the Beaverton police captain in charge of overall investigation operations for the Reitz case. 'We were dealing with a very gruesome homicide that opened the doors to one of the largest criminal investigations in the Northwest, spanning three states.
'Our case proved to be the turning point that led to the arrest of Woodfield and clearance of other cases connected to the so-called I-5 bandit.'
As the first jurisdiction to prosecute Woodfield for his crimes and the only one to get a murder conviction, the case was monumental for Chris Van Dyke, who led the prosecution team at the age of 30.
'That case was really significant to both Dave and I,' Van Dyke said. 'It was my first murder case.
'I had never dived into anything that deeply before. There was a huge amount of pressure that etches firmly in your memory.'
The I-5 Killer is reported to be linked to 140 cases ranging from robbery to rape and murder.
'All the victims we're aware of were young women like Julie Ann in the prime of their lives,' Bishop said.
It took the dedication and cooperation of 56 law enforcement agencies across state lines along the I-5 corridor to take Woodfield off the streets and keep him behind bars for life.
The show will focus in on the turning point for the I-5 Task Force.
That key came when Bishop traveled to Springfield to interview Woodfield as a suspect in the Reitz case.
As he waited for Woodfield at his home on South E Street, a woman showed up.
'I asked her a question, I don't know why,' Bishop recalled. 'I asked, 'Did he make any phone calls to Beaverton?' And she said she assumed so because there was a $289 charge on the bill.
'I asked to see the bill and as you look at it, you realize that you're looking at a map of I-5 in that bill with calls stretching from San Francisco to Bellingham, Wash. It was then I knew who we were dealing with and that we were into a much larger operation.'
Bishop initially arrested Woodfield on a parole violation and took him to Salem.
The damning phone records were posted on a wall and dozens of law enforcement agencies traveled to review them. It didn't take long for officials to begin matching open criminal investigations to those phone bills.
'It's an amazing story of how a crime was solved,' Van Dyke said. 'A lot of pieces of a puzzle had to be put together.
'Randall Woodfield could have easily gone undetected, but it was the quality of that investigation that led to his conviction.'
There's a lot of lessons to be learned from this case, Van Dyke said.
'It underscored the value of a team approach in dealing with complicated investigations,' he said. 'By taking part in the evidence gathering, it helped with trying the case. Because of the multi-jurisdiction cooperation, I was far better prepared to try the case in the long run.'
Van Dyke now serves as president and CEO of the Nau apparel company.
In the years following Woodfield's trial, he and Bishop have remained friends.
'We created a lifelong friendship from those 20-hour work days,' he said. 'It was that case that introduced us in the first place.'
Knowing that they were part of the team that tracked down the man who stole Julie Ann Reitz's bright future, means a great deal to both Van Dyke and Bishop.
Eight three-inch binders containing the notes for the Beaverton homicide investigation into Reitz's death are on the top shelf of the bookcase in Bishop's office.
'I keep them up there as a reminder of what we were able to accomplish and the fact that we took a bad guy off the street, preventing him from killing other people or committing other crimes,' Bishop said. 'They are a constant reminder that every case can be solved as long as you put together a dedicated team of people. It's a lesson in how important it is to never give up in the search for justice.'
Body of Evidence airs Saturday from 9 to 11 p.m. on Tru TV.