Decapitated woman found unclothed in river identified

On the 20th of June, 1984, two anglers encountered a dead, naked woman by the south bank of the Spokane River. The female had had her arms and legs severed, as well as her head removed. Spokane police began to interrogate the case, but no missing lady matching her description had been reported, and there was no identification near her body either. Rather than assigning her the usual “Jane Doe” title, Detective Don Giese’s daughter named her “Millie”, as she thought that no one should have to go nameless.

In April 1998, a woman walking her dog located a skull in a vacant lot close to the river. Investigators believed that the skull might have belonged to the deceased woman, but they could not confirm this hypothesis without DNA. Millie’s body was buried in a nearby cemetery, but her remains were exhumed in 2001. Using the DNA from her body and the skull, law enforcement officers managed to prove that the skull was a confirmed match to the torso.

In 2002, the police in Spokane released images and a facial reconstruction of what experts thought Millie could have looked like when she was killed. Still no leads. Millie’s information was uploaded to the NamUs, a national missing and unidentified persons registry, in 2007, yet again, with no results.

In 2021, the DNA from Millie’s remains were presented to Othram Labs, a laboratory that brands itself as “a revolution in cold case solution.” The DNA collected from Millie’s exhumed body allowed Othram to create a DNA profile, which they provided a list of possible family members to Spokane police. With the aid of the Spokane County Clerk and Washington State Department of Health, the detectives located a record matching the DNA profile of two sisters.

The investigators established that one of the sisters was still alive in the Midwest, and due to the absence of any trace of the other sister, the detectives believed they had solved the nearly 40-year-old mystery. They were right. In February 2023, DNA collected from the sister and tested at Othram verified a sibling relationship between the woman and the naked woman.

Millie was really Ruth Belle Waymire who was born in 1960 and 24 years old when she passed away. Her sister said that their parents had split up when they were young and then their mother died a short time after. After their mother’s death the sisters had gone their own ways and had not kept in contact. It turned out Waymire was married to Trampas D.L. Vaughn, her second husband, when she was killed, but she had never been reported missing. Her autopsy revealed that she had likely had a child a year or two before her death, yet the identity of Waymire’s child or children remains unknown.

Vaughn was born in Iowa and had done prison time in before moving to the Pacific Northwest. He and Waymire got married in Wenatchee, Washington and there appeared to be no records of a divorce. The detectives wanted to speak to Vaughn right away regarding Waymire’s death, but they discovered he had died in California in 2017. The police have not ruled Vaughn out as a suspect, but they have not identified any other suspects either, including Waymire’s first husband, who still lives in Spokane and is cooperating with the investigation.

The Spokane police are asking anyone who knew Waymire, her husbands, or possibly her child to contact them through Crime Check. Waymire would have been 63 years old next month.