Updated 06/19/2012 10:45 PM
Thirty Years Later, Family of 'Green River Killer' Victim Has Answers
After more than 30 years of wondering what happened, a Rochester family finally has some answers. Police in Washington State have identified the remains of Sandra Denise Major.
Major was reporting missing in Seattle in 1982. She was 20 at the time. DNA from Major's siblings helped identify her as the 16th victim of one of the nation’s most notorious killers.
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"Not knowing in itself causes a lot pain,” said Barry Major.
For years, it was a question he didn't want answered.
"I was always optimistic; I was hopeful."
After all, closure leaves little room for hope.
"I just thought maybe she was just living somewhere else on her own,” Barry said.
Barry was just 14 when his big sister Sandy left the family's Virginia Avenue home.
"Like something great was missing, because she was a great person."
After an argument with her mother, Sandy didn't tell her family where she was going.
"At that time, I just remember thinking well she's leaving with a friend. I didn't think anything of it," said Angela Major.
Barry's wife Angela was Sandy's best friend. Just six months after she left, Angela had a sinking feeling.
"I knew in my heart that something was very wrong."
A letter from Sandy sent in 1982 was post marked Seattle, Washington, with no return address. Just a few months later, Sandy was reported missing by a friend. She was last seen getting into a pick-up in North Seattle.
"Seattle, Washington is a such a great distance from Rochester. I never imagined something like this would happen."
In 1985, police found the remains of two women near a cemetery in Auburn, Washington. "Bones 16," as the King County Sheriff's Office called them, were eventually sent to a lab in North Texas.
Barry submitted DNA at the Rochester Police Department.
"I was hoping for a different result, man."
Monday, police reported there was a match.
"It all came back like yesterday. Just like yesterday. So it really hurts."
Sandy was one of Gary Ridgway's 49 victims. He's serving a life sentence in prison.
Barry says he actually forgives Ridgway.
"I'm not going to hold onto any hatred because that deprives me of being a healthy individual, and I'm not going to do that."
Barry's mother passed away in 2005, never knowing what happened to her daughter. Barry now believes she now does.
"I believe that her and Sandy are together right now."
The Major family hopes to bring Sandy's remains home so she can be laid to rest in Rochester.
Barry and Angela were married 25 years after Sandy went missing. The couple believes Sandy would have wanted it that way.