Cold Case: The Torso Murders
In just over three months in 2003, the dismembered torsos of two women washed ashore within 12 miles of each other on Turnagain Arm.
Jim Chaplin says he tried to help Lekanoff get off drugs and off the streets where she worked as a prostitute. In an interview with KTVA in 2004, Chaplin recalled his thoughts when he heard the news: “The timing seemed off. I thought that if something happened here in Anchorage, it would have happened soon, right away. Because she left all her belongings and didn't come back for them.”
Chaplin said after Lekanoff vanished, his new girlfriend had an odd encounter.
“This was the summer after she disappeared,” he said. “My (new) girlfriend looked out the window and said she saw Desiree in (a car parked outside) and she had sent somebody up to see if I still lived there or what.”
Chaplin said he never actually saw this event happen, and never heard from Lekanoff again.
In the years to come since the torsos were found, Anchorage Police tried to draw any connections they could between Lekanoff and Rothe.
“We found some similarities,” Markiewicz said. “We found that they both were working the streets. At certain times, they were both working on the streets of Anchorage as prostitutes.”
But other than that, they don't have much to go on. Neither had any family in Alaska that this reporter could track down.
“There's still hope and conviction that one day the person responsible will be brought to justice,” Markiewicz said.
Markiewicz said it's frustrating when cases like this go cold, but someone knows something, and with the passage of time they might be willing to come forward.
“Somebody may know the suspect, but they may be afraid of the suspect,” Markiewicz said. “But when the suspect is out of the picture, when they go to jail or leave the state, maybe people feel more comfortable to come forward.”
Detectives say they try not to let these cases fade from their memory or the public's.
Police say this cold case was featured on national TV in the last few years, and they will aggressively go after any lead they get, in hopes to some day find the justice these two women deserve.If you have any information, call Anchorage Police at 786-8900.