(PHOTO AND STORY: KHQ.COM)
One woman is missing, another was found dismembered, and a third was sexually assaulted and left for dead. New documents reveal detectives believe the same man was connected to each case. So why has he only been charged with hurting one of them? KHQ poured over documents in this special investigation in search of answers for grieving families.
"There is a part of your spirit so injured, that you never feel the same," said Jackie Forney, "There's no real happiness anymore."
Jackie's daughter Heather Higgins vanished in September of 2010.
"The sparkle in life goes away, and everything is just dull," she said.
Heather's body has never been found, but loved ones have long suspected she was murdered.
"I'm in hell, pure hell," she said. "This took my life away."
Jackie devoted everything to finding out what happened to her daughter.
A name quickly surfaced from witnesses. They said Heather got a ride from him the day she disappeared.
Police records obtained by KHQ's Hayley Guenthner show the man's name came up repeatedly as detectives investigated Heather's case. Police records show a passerby found a large knife and an ID of Heather's just a few blocks from where the man was living. Records also show a witness told detectives the man told her he "did something really bad." The witness said the man also said he didn't kill Heather, but "disposed of (her) body by putting her in a sleeping bag." He allegedly dumped her body near a ski resort "up north," according to the witness.
Because the man has yet to be charged, we are not naming him.
KHQ showed Jackie the documents containing those details. She said they were shocking to read.
"This person should have been stopped," Jackie said. "It's not like nobody knew he was. I feel really bad that someone else had to die."
That someone else may have been Kala Williams.
"It just breaks my heart," said Williams' aunt, Jo Cameron.
Kala's dismembered body was found stuffed in trash bags and a sleeping bag shortly after she disappeared in 2012. Police records show the same man they believe was involved in Heather's case, was detective's top suspect in Kala's.
"A monster is right," said family members of the suspect.
Documents show a detective pushed to the get the man charged for Kala's death. He wrote a charging request complete with an affidavit of facts for prosecutors to review, claiming DNA tied the man to items found with her remains. The case still had a huge hurdle.
"She was murdered," family said of Kala. "Brutally murdered."
At least one expert doesn't appear to agree. One of Spokane County's Medical Examiner's, Dr. John Howard, lists Kala's death as undetermined.
"That means he doesn't want to spend the time to determine what happened to my niece," Julie Beauchanie said.
Records show Spokane Police did hire an outside expert to review the case. He found Kala died of "homicidal violence," but still, no charges were filed. Months later, records show the same man went on to sexually assault and strangle another woman. She survived and he was arrested. He's currently in jail for that attack, but could be out as early as next year.
Both families are left hopeful prosecutor's will charge him before that happens.
"Nobody should get away with the heinous evil things that this person has done to our children," Jackie said. "I know if it was their child, they would want whoever to be doing their job."
KHQ reached out to SPD and the prosecutor's office. Both refused to comment as this is a very active case. Prosecutors said they continue to review the file.
Calls to Dr. Howard were not returned.