Ever noticed that some serials get more attention than others by the public simply based on their sexual and physical appeal? Now before you get all riled up, what I mean by appeal is the curious and disturbing reaction many women have to serial rapists upon their arrest. Consider that young (and sometimes older) women who flock to courthouses, save newspaper clippings, and develop dysfunctional fantasies about these utterly deranged men, have no concept of their sadistic crimes. They weren’t there. They don’t see the terror and suffering of these men’s’ victims. They don’t realize these terrible endings could just have easily been their own. Worse, some do, yet still this stuff turns them on. That’s probably got a lot to do with the frenzied media coverage and excessive photographs after an arrest. Hey, sex sells. One such media-friendly wacko was Randall Woodfield, first known to police and eventually to the press as The I-5 Killer.
The I-5 Killer/I-5 Bandit
At 6′ 1″, with black hair and brown eyes, Randall Woodfield was a good-looking but troubled young man. Born in Salem, Oregon, Randy came from a middle class family with no signs of dysfunction (really?). His childhood wasn’t filled with horrifying abuse like so many killers. He was a cherished son in a close-knit family. Randy was overshadowed as a youth by his two older sisters. They did well in school. One became a doctor, the other an attorney. Still Randy was admired and respected by most people who knew him. He was popular among his peers, and was a football star at Newport High School and at Portland State University. From an early age, it was apparent that young Randy had a few emotional problems. Beginning in adolescence he began to exhibit anti-social sexual behaviors, primarily a penchant for indecent exposure. Upon his first arrest for the crime in high school, his football coaches hushed it up so that he wouldn’t be kicked off the team. Around this time, Randy had a mentor he admired, a bar manager named Chuck Heath. Heath recalled that Randy always permitted underage girls into the bar, The Faucet. One year Randy asked Heath if he would lie for him in a small claims court case. Heath realized Randy was “weird” and refused to associate with him anymore. Former Beaverton Police Chief David Bishop was a detective when Reitz, Heath’s friend, was murdered about 4 a.m. on Feb. 15, 1981, shot twice in the back of the head after being raped.
Three arrests in the early 1970s for petty crimes such as vandalism and public indecency did not prevent Randy from being selected in the 1974 Draft by the Green Bay Packers as a wide receiver, in the 17th round (428th pick). He tried to establish himself with the Packers during Coach and General Manager Dan Devine’s last season but he could not shake his problems with a trip across the country. The Packers cut him after he was caught exposing himself yet again. Angry and depressed, Randy dropped out of college just three semesters away from graduation. At age 25, things didn’t look too bright. He had no money, no job, no prospects, no friends. Once to celebrate Valentine’s Day, he organized a party for himself at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Portland. Nobody showed up. After the embarrassment,Randy went out and killed again.
In early 1975, several Portland women were accosted by a knife-wielding man, forced to perform oral sex and then robbed of their handbags. Law enforcement reacted by having female police officers act as decoys. On March 3, 1975, Randy was arrested after being caught with marked money from one of the undercover officers. In April 1975, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree robbery. Randy was sentenced to ten years in prison, but was freed on parole in July, 1979. Ten years. Out in four. Wonderful. God bless the American justice system.
On October 9, 1980, Cherie Ayers, Randy’s former classmate, was raped and murdered in Portland. Ayers had been bludgeoned and stabbed in the neck. Small wonder why Randy had no friends. When questioning him. homicide detectives found Randy’s answers to be “evasive and deceptive” but, because his blood type did not match semen found in the victim’s body, no charges were filed. One month later Darci Fix and Doug Altic were shot to death execution-style, in Altic’s Portland apartment. A .32-caliber revolver was missing from the scene. While Fix had once been involved with one of Randy’s closest friends, police did not connect Randy to the crime. Darn. That might have slowed down his spree somewhat.
By January 1981, law enforcement manufactured the nickname “The I-5 Bandit,” given his preference for committing crimes along the Interstate 5 corridor. On January 8, he held up the same Vancouver gas station he had robbed in December, this time forcing a female attendant to expose her breasts. Something that angered him and set him off was rejection. He showed off his buff body in one issue of Playgirl magazine, his bulging muscles slicked in oil. But when he called women, some turned him down. That made him mad. Soon after, he went out on a killing spree. In February 1981, he called his sister in Shasta County, Calif., asking to have coffee with her. She said her husband didn’t want him around. Soon after, Woodfield forced his way into the Shasta home of Jannell Jarvis, 14, and her mother, Donna Eckard, 37, and killed them.
On March 3, 1981, Randy was brought into the Salem Police Department for an interrogation. His apartment was searched two days later by warrant. Detectives were looking for someone who was familiar with the I-5 freeway, as well as someone using false beards and moustaches as a disguise. On March 7, Randy was taken into custody after being positively identified by several of the I-5 Bandit’s victims during a police lineup. Randy went to trial for murder, attempted murder, and two counts of sodomy. A media frenzy surrounded the good-looking former football player. Headlines blazed with news of the I-5 Killer’s arrest. Cameras vied for positions to film Randy and take his picture for newspapers. Groupies attended his trial, competing for his attention, convinced of his innocence. Eventually Randy was convicted on June 26, 1981, and sentenced to life in prison plus 90 years. After conviction of sodomy and weapons charges in Benton County, 35 more years were added to Randy’s sentence. While he was charged with four murders, it is estimated that Randy committed as many as 44 murders, as well as 60 sexual assaults.
Decades later, Detective Jim Lawrence of Portland’s Cold Case Unit combed through 12 binders of case files to help pin down Randy’s murders. He found a report filed after Randy’s father, a phone company executive, visited him in jail. “It was a really short meeting,” Lawrence said. “When the dad walked out, he told the detectives, ‘He’s not the son I know.'” “He said he wasn’t going to help the detectives put away his son. No one from Randy’s family has ever spoken again.”
In April 1987, Randy filed a $12 million libel suit against author Ann Rule, author who wrote The I-5 Killer. The account life and crime of Randy’s spree became a best-selling book in 1984. The Federal Court in Oregon dismissed the lawsuit in January 1988, citing that the statute of limitations on such a lawsuit had been exhausted. In 19 Randy became pen-pals and “lovers” with Diane Downs, (pictured below) a woman imprisoned in Oregon Women’s State Penitentiary for shooting her 3 children, killing one and critically wounding two others. Their relationship was quite bizarre. The Dysfunctional Diane described her serial killer boyfriend as “charming, supportive and stimulating” and wasn’t disturbed that he was a convicted rapist and murderer. She considered him “handsome and a nice guy.” Hey, Diane shot her own children in order to be with an ex-lover, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised. In one love letter Randy asked Diane for her permission to masturbate to her picture, assuring her he wouldn’t disrespect her by soiling the picture. Gross.
One afternoon, Diane made good her escape from Oregon Women’s Pen and managed to stay on the run for 10 days before she was re-captured. At the time the media identified Randall Woodfield as her prison boyfriend, but strangely he denied their relationship (rather like Matt Damon breaking up with Mimi Rogers on a daytime talk show). That’s the media’s idea of celebrity among federal prisoners. Eesh.
Having access to the internet while in prison, Randy wrote the following on his MySpace account in 2006: “I’m Randy, I’m 55. I spend the remainder of my days in prison because I have committed a murder along with many other crimes. I once tried out for the Green Bay Packers. The only reason I didn’t make it is because the skills I had to offer they didn’t need at the time.” “Committed a murder“; gotta love it.
Keith Hunter Jesperson who nicknamed himself The Happy Face Killer, once stated to a reporter that Randy had an appeal to groupies he couldn’t understand. Gorgeous girls often visited him in prison “in spite of him being a rapist and murderer.” Of course, Hunter himself was the same, but apparently that’s beside the point.
During his time at the penitentiary, Randy has married three times and divorced twice. Death groupies. Whatever. Death groupies are a disturbing phenomenon themselves. See Gross Groupies and Gruesome Egos .Some letters Randy wrote from prison were eventually sold online as a collection titled, The Serial Killer Letters and published by The Charles Press. (this letter below written to Jennifer Frio)
Dear Ms Frio;
Okay — Truce. We are both right, and we need to find a middle ground. Im not angry with you, just disappointed in your style, or possibly “hidden agenda”. Whatever. I will never really know. And you will just use me for your own purposes.
Ive shared a lot with you, now its up to you to “ASK” the right questions. And to be open-minded as well. You make statements like…”All the inspectors and courts disagree”, etc. Not so Jenny. Read the police report first filed by Det. Kominek, lead “Dick” who hypnotized the victim-witness, who helped police draw the composite drawing of “I-5 Killer” suspect!! Go figure. Now ask yourself why they would fight my defense counsel, to keep (Larry Moore) out of my trial for murder. Because they KNOW they messed up.
Okay, enough crying on your shoulder. You only care to know “why murderers strike out in anger or rage“? How should I know? What a question Jenny. Care to write more personally? Share a photo? Talk once by phone? Your choice.
In the 2000’s through the advanced processing of DNA, police are still linking Randall Woodfield to several rape-murders, including what was once the 1980 unsolved murder of Cherie Ayres, giving closure, although not comfort, to surviving families. It is likely the police will continue to discover cases involving Randall Woodfield for many years. Fortunately, Woodfield is locked up where he belongs and the horror of his murderous legend will never claim another victim.