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Episode 91

Who Killed Donna O’Steen?

May 24, 2021   Tags: ,
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In November 2001, Donna O'Steen took her daughter to a piano lesson before school. When she didn't return to pick her up, the piano teacher and Donna's daughter went to the house to look for her. Inside an unknown offender stabbed Donna over 10 times and stole random items. The case remains unsolved today. 

The Murder of Donna O'Steen:
On Thursday, November 8th, 2001, 53-year-old Donna O'Steen took her 11-year-old daughter to a piano lesson before school at 7:45. She was set to return to pick her up at 8:45 AM. 

Donna returned to the family home. She spoke with her sister Shirley on the phone around 8:25 that morning. The conversation didn’t last long. But Donna told Shirley she was in a bad mood. 

At the end of the piano lesson, Donna wasn't there to pick up her daughter. They tried to call Donna but there was no answer. When she still hadn't arrived by 2:30, the piano teacher brought Donna's daughter home.  

Pulling up to the house on 37th Avenue Northwest, the two could see Donna’s car in the driveway. All the doors were locked. Donna's daughter got the hide-a-key and tried to open the front door, but the security bar lock was on the door. It would only open a crack.  

The teacher felt something was wrong. They brought over the landscaper from a neighbor's house. When they got back to the house the door on the deck that led to the kitchen was now open. 

The landscaper went inside. He told the Seattle Weekly newspaper that he knew something was wrong when he entered. He started to go up the stairs and noticed two drops of blood. They were on the middle steps and looked about the size of a dog’s paw. 

Once at the top of the stairs, he entered the bedroom. He saw draws pulled out. Clothes were on the floor. The TV was on its side. His first thought was someone was trying to rob the family.  The landscaper also thought the person might still be in the house. He ran outside to get the friend he had been speaking with. 

The neighbor, the landscaper and the piano teacher went back into the house. They entered the bedroom and saw jewelry all over the bed. 

She saw Donna laying in the “short, narrow passage between the bed and bath.” She was face down, but her face was turned to the outside wall. Her hands were bound with duct tape behind her back. 

She was still dressed. There were two holes in the drywall. Investigators believed the holes were from Donna kicking. The family’s Portuguese water dog--Scupper--was confined to the first floor. 

The phone lines to the house had been cut. 

The blood evidence was largely a pool of blood underneath Donna. But there were smudges against the window frame. There was another smear on the door frame. According to the news, there were other smears in the bathroom and hall. Another smear was located on the back door and the stairway leading from the house in the back. Unfortunately we don’t have the crime scene photos to see the patterns. We contacted the Seattle Police Department to discuss the case, but they declined.

We do know that the autopsy reported Donna had been stabbed 13 times. The wounds were to her neck and chest. There was no evidence of sexual assault. 

The Investigation:
Investigators initially thought the same thing as the landscaper--it was a burglary that went wrong. But as they looked closer at Donna’s body and the home, it didn’t seem as likely.

None of the knives from the home were missing. The killer had brought their own. The duct tape that was used to bind Donna was also not from the house. There were also gloves. The offender had come prepared. 

Once investigators started cataloging the missing items, robbery seemed even less likely. The offender took a pickle jar that was filled with nickels, which supposedly weighed 18 pounds. Other items missing were a small, child-size lavender combination lock safe, a black Outdoors backpack, a bank bag, and a silver bracelet. Also missing was Donna’s wedding ring from her first marriage--it was gold with a small diamond. 

Meanwhile the killer had left much more valuable items. The emerald ring Donna wore was still on her finger. Silver dollars were left. The offender didn’t steal the Omega watch or pearls either. 

Investigators turned to Donna’s life. Richard Haynie was called at work and told something bad happened at his house. Donna being killed wasn’t mentioned. Police made Morgan stay at a neighbor’s house. They wouldn’t allow Richard to pick up his son from school. He waited for hours outside his home to be told what was going on.

Police finally told him Donna was dead. Richard was interrogated for hours. He gave blood samples willingly. He also took a polygraph. Richard told Westside Seattle he “was on the top of the list...Plus people suspect you did it anyway. Or had it done because I was at work when it happened.”


According to reports, Richard was later ruled out. There were train tracks that ran behind the home. According to some neighbors, the tracks did bring transients to the area. There was a story that one such transient bragged about killing a woman when he was at a local bar. 

The police searched for the man. They located him. After speaking with him, he was dismissed as a suspect.

Investigators also looked into a man who lived in the neighborhood the day of the murder. The man lived in a rundown cabin down from the home. Police obtained a search warrant. They searched the dwelling and questioned the man. 

The man was released.

Three years after Donna’s murder, the Seattle Police released information to the public. They released two sketches.

The sketches were not explicitly thought to be suspects. They were two unidentified men in the neighborhood on the morning Donna was killed. Investigators wanted to talk to them.

The first man was described as white male, in his 30s or 40s. He is 6 feet, 180 to 200 pounds. On the morning of November 8th, 2001 he was wearing a white, long-sleeved painter-type shirt, matching white painter pants, an orange see-through traffic-type vest and a white hard hat. He had light brown/blond hair. It was a box haircut. He may have had a mustache or bad skin. 

The second man was also a white male, 40 years old. He is 6 feet with a medium build. He was dressed like a construction worker with clean clothes.

On top of the sketches, police also released photos of some of the jewelry that was taken. The silver bracelet featured horses running. The other photo was of the companion ring to Donna’s first wedding band. It is a man’s golden ring with what looks like a blue stone.



ASSIGNMENT:
53-year-old Donna O’Steen’s case remains unsolved to this day. It occasionally is mentioned in local media, but largely hasn’t gained nearly enough attention.

Donna was killed on November 8th, 2001 in her home on 37th Avenue Northwest. She talked to her sister shortly before 8:30 AM and her daughter arrived at the home with her piano teacher around 9:30 AM. She was stabbed 13 times. The bedroom was ransacked but most of the valuable objects were left behind. 

We described two men who were unidentified in Donna’s neighborhood that morning. If you have any information about her murder or these men, please contact us.

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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