Confluence: A Murder Mystery in Southeast Washington

In their true-crime documentary, Idaho filmmakers Vernon Lott and Jennifer Anderson remind us of a rash of killings during the late '70s and early '80s near the southeast corner of our state. In an age before cellphones, the Internet, and DNA testing, cops on the Washington and Idaho sides of the border were slow to link the string of five murders. Far from Seattle, the population hub of Lewiston, Idaho, was a place where children roamed freely and parents never worried about their kids becoming faces on milk cartons. Confluence intersplices new interviews with white-haired parents and retired cops with home movies and snapshots, occasionally training the camera on the wide, uncaring landscape and sky. More than three decades since the initial 1979 disappearance of a 12-year-old girl—her body never found— memories have dimmed and newspaper clippings yellowed. "The police did nothing," says one irate father, but the pattern of victims—a child, a female cyclist, and two young women and a man working in a community theater—didn't scream out like those of Ted Bundy or the Green River Killer. Today, there is no easy CSI-style resolution. Though old evidence is being tested for DNA, says one police official, "We're kinda stalled out." A grieving mother asks rhetorically, "What's 'closure'? I haven't experienced it. I don't know."

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