Transgender inmate named as murder suspect in three cold cases

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by KREM.com

NWCN.com

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 2:34 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Spokane Co. deputies executed a search warrant in the home of a Spokane woman, who the sheriff’s office says could be tied to three cold case murders.

Yolanda Sapp, 26, Nikkie Lowe, 34, and Kathlene Brisbois, 38, were all shot and killed within three months of each other in 1990. Sapps and Brisbois were found completely nude, while Lowe’s body was partially clothed. All three victims were considered known prostitutes, according to Spokane police.

Detectives say they have enough evidence to now consider Douglas (Donna) Perry, 60, as a person of interest in these murders.

The three homicides became cold cases, but local authorities have been tracking them for years. WSP scientists found male DNA under Brisbois’ fingernail clippings in 2009. Comparisons to potential suspects’ DNA came up empty until they got a hit in September of this year. The DNA matched Perry’s, who was already in custody for illegal possession of firearms charges in March of 2012.

Perry has an extensive criminal history in Washington reaching back to the 70s, with charges ranging from reckless endangerment to second-degree assault. She also had federal charges brought against her in 1988. Authorities say she had a pipe bomb, 49 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition in this case. The federal government charged her again in 1994 for additional firearms and ammunition.

Police began questioning Perry’s mental health decades ago. In 1997, Spokane police say they found attorney papers and weapons in her vehicle. They searched it after allegedly catching then Douglas Perry with a prostitute. The documents reportedly stated Perry suffers from a gender psychosis disorder and does not like females. Fellow inmates even questioned Perry’s sanity when he served time in an Oregon prison in the 90s. According to court documents, Perry would talk about taking prostitutes home to feed them. They reportedly believed he could have killed prostitutes in the past based on his behavior.

Douglas Perry named himself Donna in 2000 following gender reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand.

Federal and local agencies executed the search of Perry’s home in March. According to court documents, a retired Spokane detective observed Perry purchase ammunition and a pistol magazine in Spokane Valley. The detective was aware of Perry’s criminal past, so police contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Police say they came across some unusual belongings in this search like bras, panties and transgender catalogs. Detectives reportedly remember thinking the panties seemed especially odd because they were obviously old and too small for Perry. They believed she was perhaps keeping them as trophies for past behavior.

Because of the recent break in the case, police requested a new search warrant of Perry’s home. They seized the bras and underwear, handguns and any proof a contact with the three victims.

Detectives would like to speak to anyone who might have information about these cases, or Perry's potential involvement.  Anyone with any information that may assist detectives with these cold cases are asked to contact SCSO Detective Jim Dresback at 509-477-2714 or JDresback@spokanesheriff.org. Detective Mark Burbridge can be contacted at 509-625-4262 or info-mburbridge@spokanepolice.org.

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