Murder Victim Near Seattle Identified as Sacramento Woman Decades Later

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SACRAMENTO–

It started with an arrest and ended in murder — an 18-year-old woman, who told police her name was Brenda O’Neil was arrested for petty theft in Sacramento. Through the years, police arrested her time and time again for drugs and prostitution.

Eventually, she worked her way out of Sacramento, up the I-5 corridor and into King County, Washington. And that’s where she gave police yet another name.

“In the mid-80s she has several bookings into the King County Jail under the AKA of Rita Lang,” King County Sheriff’s Detective Scott Tompkins said. “And again, that’s not her true name, but  it was an alias that she used and we know it’s the same person because all of these arrests have the same FBI number.”

In November 1988, “Rita” failed to appear in court on drug charges.

“When she got out of jail in 1988, that’s the last time we know that she was alive,” Tompkins said.

Nearly a year later, skeletal remains were found by some construction workers in King County. The remains went unidentified until very recently. Through bone reconstruction and sketches, forensic detectives were able to figure out who it was. It was the woman who called herself “Rita Lang.”

Investigators distributed her picture to the media, hoping the public would help find her real name and where her family lives and who might have killed her.

The picture made its way back to Sacramento, where Arlene Seuell lives.

Seuell was sure the woman was her sister, and DNA testing later confirmed that.

The woman’s real name was Celia Victor.

“My sister always felt that it was the Green River Killer up in that area, and he targeted prostitutes and runaways,” Seuell said.

Gary Ridgway — better known as the Green River Killer — killed 49 women, leaving many of their bodies along the Green River in King County, Washington. He evaded capture until 2001. Since then, he has bragged that he’s killed 80 women.

The Green River Killer theory hasn’t escaped detectives as they continue to investigate her death.

In the meantime, Seuell says her family is looking for Celia’s children.

“To our knowledge, she has three other children. The oldest is a girl and her name is Starla,” Seuell said. “I’m not sure of the other children’s names, but hopefully this will get out and find them.”

Seuell wants the King County Sheriff’s Office to know she’s grateful.

“This has been, like, almost 28 years and the initial detective, he wouldn’t let that go, it was a cold case and I’m just grateful that I may have an opportunity to find my family,” she said.

Amy Henderson contributed to this report.

 

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