Advertisement
Terrance Peder Rasmussen (left in 1959, center in 1960, right in a 1985 booking photo during which he was going under the name "Curtis Kimball") has been identified as the "Chameleon" killer believed responsible for the death of one woman and three young girls whose bodies were found in barrels in 1985 and 2000 in the same location in New Hampshire. Rasmussen, who went under several aliases, died in prison under the name Kimball in 2010 while serving a sentence for the murder of his wife, Eunsoon Jun. (Photo Credits: Courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office)

The “Chameleon” killer butchered women and children, and left an undetermined trail of bodies and mayhem across the United States in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

In New Hampshire, he was Robert Evans, an electrician who apparently killed a woman and three children and stuffed their bodies in barrels in the woods in 1981. He was a drifter named Larry Vanner who conned an unsuspecting woman in the late 1990s in California, before killing and dismembering her, and burying her in a pile of cat litter in her home. In between, he was Gerald Mockerman, Curtis Kimball, Gordon Jenson and other names and identities, with separate birth dates and identifying numbers he could rattle off to police, or victims.

Authorities had not been able to pin down his core identity, as they had a decades-long delay in their pursuit of the serial killer, who died behind bars in 2010.

But they have now caught up with the “Chameleon.”

After a year of a multi-agency investigation, they finally have their man: the “Chameleon” was one Terry Peder Rasmussen, a U.S. Navy veteran whose wife left him and took their four children before he went on what is proving to be a historic killing spree across America lasting decades.

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office announced this morning the biggest breakthrough yet in the investigation: Rasmussen’s identity, and a bit of the history that pinned him to the infamous Allenstown, New Hampshire case—sometimes known as the Bear Brook Murders.

After the DNA of “Robert Evans” proved he was the biological father of one of the girls in the New Hampshire barrels, authorities announced their campaign to discover his true identity—and to pinpoint more of his horrific exploits.

The latest breakthrough was made through dozens of tips they received from the public—and finally the match of the DNA between the Evans sample and one of his known surviving biological children, they announced this morning.

“As a result of those efforts, a DNA sample was obtained from a living adult believed to be Evans’ child,” they said in a statement. “Testing on that adult’s DNA sample has confirmed that his father was the person known as Robert ‘Bob’ Evans. Those DNA results and other investigative work have allowed investigators to confirm that Robert ‘Bob’ Evans’ true identity is in fact, Terry Peder Rasmussen.”

Gaps remain in the timeline and the narrative of Rasmussen’s marathon rampage, notably some of the females he was seen with, along with the time periods 1974 to 1978, 1981 to 1984, and 1986 to 1988.

But the New Hampshire authorities have compiled a major trove of information on the long-dead killer.

Rasmussen was born in Colorado on Dec. 23, 1943. He lived there and in Arizona with his family, and attended Phoenix North High School between 1959 and 1960. But in 1961, still a teenager, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. During his military time, he served as an electrician in a construction unit on bases across the U.S. West—and also on Okinawa (both stints fit descriptions of his work skills and worldly knowledge of language and cultures that were highlighted by investigators earlier in the investigation). Rasmussen was given a general discharge in 1967.

After his service, Rasmussen moved to Hawaii, where he married. The couple moved to Arizona in 1969, and would move around to various locations in Phoenix and Redwood City, California. But they also had children during this period, twin daughters in 1969, a son in 1970 and the youngest daughter in 1972.

The couple separated in 1972, then reconciled—but she left for good with the kids between 1973 and 1974, authorities said in their timeline.

This part of the killer’s family last saw him in the Christmas season of 1974 in Arizona. He told them he was living in a particular apartment building in Ingleside, Texas. But he left—and they never saw him again.

However, he was with an unidentified female during that visit, the family (all still alive) told authorities.

Authorities are now looking to further complete the timeline—and the death toll—from the “Chameleon killer” who was Terry Peder Rasmussen.

Sgt. Michael Kokoski of the New Hampshire State Police told Forensic Magazine that investigators are now essentially entering "phase three of three," now that the ID has been made. It was the product of a half-dozen detectives spending the majority of their hours tracking the trail, along with the help of another half dozen assisting. The other agencies have also provided fundamental breakthroughs: the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Manchester (NH) Police Department, the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sheriff's Office, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services all made vital contributions.

Finding the ex-wife and four children still alive was a needed - but unexpected - break, Kokoski said.

"It's not necessarily something we expected," the sergeant said.

The third phase in New Hampshire is to identify the victims - and find the last woman seen with him in the Granite State, authorities said.

"Maybe this allows someone to make a connection," added Jeffery Strelzin, the senior assistant Attorney General for New Hampshire. "The focus is on identifying the four bodies in Allenstown, and finding out where Denise Beaudin is."

Rasmussen—then known as Vanner—was finally arrested for good in 2002. He had been living in the house of Eunsoon Jun, who had disappeared and whose mummified remains were found in a pile of kitty litter. He was locked up and pleaded guilty shortly after his fingerprints matched his previous crimes.

Advanced DNA searches through genealogy databases discovered a heretofore-unknown serial killer last summer.

Rasmussen, under the name Curtis Kimball, had been imprisoned for the abuse and abandonment of a little girl in 1986. He had been traveling with the girl for some time, left her at an RV campground, and though he was later caught and served years in prison, he again disappeared off the radar of authorities. When the abandoned little girl grew up, she wanted to know where the killer had taken her from. (Her DNA proved the man who had abandoned her was not her father.) Instead, her DNA later pointed back to a family on the East Coast—and to a birth identity in New Hampshire.

Peter Headley, a detective at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, enlisted the latest state-of-the-art genetic ancestry help to find her surviving biological relatives, all the way across the country. The girl known as Lisa had been an infant named Dawn Beaudin when she had disappeared with her mother Denise Beaudin and a man named Robert Evans from their Allenstown, New Hampshire home in November 1981. All three were never heard from again. None were ever reported missing by the family left behind, because they had been told they were purposely leaving to avoid debts.

The Bear Brook Murders crime scene was discovered long after the killer left. One barrel with two bodies was found in 1985, the other with two more decomposed remains was discovered a short distance away in 2000. The site was just several miles down the road from the home of Evans and the two Beaudin females. So investigators from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the New Hampshire State Police and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office acted on a hunch, and ran virtually every DNA test possible.

It had long been established that Evans/Kimball was not related to Lisa/Dawn Beaudin. But he was the biological father of one of the little girls inside the Bear Brook barrels. The “Chameleon”—whose real identity has finally been determined—is almost certainly the killer of the four Bear Brook females, the New Hampshire Attorney General announced earlier this year.

Rasmussen, as of this identification, is believed to have killed at least six females: the four Allenstown victims, Denise Beaudin, and Eunsoon Jun. But authorities acknowledge more victims may be out there among the unidentified bodies and unknown graves of America.

Headley told Forensic Magazine by phone Friday investigators still have their work cut out for them.

"This definitely filled in a lot of the gaps," he said. "But there's still a lot of work to do."

Advertisement
Advertisement