Police Baffled by Cold Case Murder of Spokane Woman, Potential Serial Killer Ties


Cold case investigators haven’t given up on trying to solve the murder of 30-year-old Debbi Finnern as the 36-year anniversary of her death from multiple stab wounds approaches.

They are still asking who did it and why? A few serial killers are among the possible suspects.

Victim had no ties to the community

Over three decades ago, Debbi Finnern made a move that her family still doesn’t understand. She relocated to Spokane, Washington, from Omaha, Nebraska – seemingly on a whim.

Her brother, who is three years younger, is still baffled about why his big sister wound up in a community that she had no ties to.

“She didn’t have a lot of money at that time,” her brother recalls, “I don’t think she had a car.”

Her brother speculates: “I thought maybe she traveled to that area with a group of friends. She didn’t seem to me like the type who would uproot on her own.”

The murder of Debbi Finnern

On a summer night in 1984, the murdered body of 30-year-old Debbi Finnern was discovered. Spokane police officers reported that they saw Debbi in the area roughly an hour before her body was found.

According to the police report, the officers told her that she wasn’t in a safe area of town and advised her that she should head home.

But Debbi never made it home.

Near the 1800 block of East Front Street, Debbi’s lifeless body was found. Investigators ruled out robbery. She was still clothed but had no bra or underwear.

She had been stopped at least eight times, according to the autopsy report, and had defensive wounds all over her hands and wrists. It was apparent that Debbi had fought for her life.

The autopsy and toxicology report revealed that most likely Debbi had sexual intercourse shortly before her death. The only substance in her system was caffeine.

Who murdered Debbi Finnern and why?

The names of lots of suspects and potential suspects have surfaced over the years, some now notorious. One such name his serial killer Robert Yates who is known to have begun a killing spree of Spokane working girls a few years after Debbie was found.

Another potential name that has come up is the “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway.

Another strong person of interest that the Spokane Police Department considered is a man named Clayton Giese, now deceased. Giese raped and stabbed to death a 12-year-old named Marsi Belez in the summer of 1985.

Will DNA identify the killer?

Authorities have been quiet on the subject of DNA in the case. But the family hopes that if there is a viable DNA in Debbi’s case, they hope it can be compared to Giese or identify another suspect and bring them some closure.

Police seek the public’s help

If you know anything about who murdered Debbi Finnern in June of 1984, please call SPD at 509.456.2233.

Tips can also be made anonymously online through P3Tips.com.

P3 Tips mobile stands for “public-police-private sector” working together to solve and prevent crime. It allows anyone to share information anonymously with crime stopper programs and law enforcement entities.