Accused killer's farm searched for additional evidence
Investigators are now in their third week scouring the grounds of Susan Monica's rural Rogue River farm to determine whether the accused double-murderer's status graduates to that of a suspected serial killer.
Over the past two weeks, investigators have dug more than 50 holes and drained a pond on Monica's 20-acre farm in search of more than just evidence linking Monica to the two victims she is alleged to have murdered and dismembered in separate crimes over the past 17 months, authorities said.
They continue to look for more bodies, Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert said.
"Any time you have multiple homicides, that would be a natural assumption — and you don't want to miss anything else," Heckert said Friday.
Heckert did not use the term "serial killer" and so far she has no information on any new victims, but she and investigators have not ruled out the possibility of one before they walk away from 9184 W. Evans Creek Road.
"When you have two homicides more than a year apart, that's a concern," Heckert said. "So we're continuing to search the residence to make sure there are no other victims."
Monica is accused of murdering Robert Haney, a 56-year-old handyman and tenant, on the property in early September 2013 and another unidentified victim in early August 2012. An initial identity theft charge accused Monica of using Haney's Oregon Trail card without him being present, and investigators' search of Monica's farm on that case led to the discovery of human body parts, police said.
Though Monica's indictment alleges that she dismembered the bodies, investigators have remained mum on how they believe Monica disposed of the bodies, what body parts were discovered and where they were found. Fingerprints matching the FBI's National Fingerprint Database identified Haney as one of the victims.
Heckert said investigators believe they know the identity of Monica's alleged 2012 victim, but they will not disclose any information about that person until they positively identify the body. Investigators may have to rely on dental records or a DNA match to a family member for that identification, said Heckert, who declined to elaborate.
Heckert added investigators do not believe the 2012 victim was tied to any local missing-person cases.
A welder by trade whose jail records list her as 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 260 pounds, Monica kept pigs and other livestock on the farm she bought in 1991.
A former tenant told the Mail Tribune that she killed his two dogs and a cat and fed them to her pigs. A former employee also told the Mail Tribune that Monica talked openly about wanting to kill her and feed her to the pigs after a falling out.
Investigators have declined to say whether they suspect the pigs played any role in the homicides.
Manhattan-based criminology and serial killer expert Scott Bonn identifies serial killers as those who murder at least three victims, with the murders taking place in separate events and different times. Also, the killer experiences an emotional "cooling off" period between the murders, when the killer blends back into his or her seemingly normal life, Bonn said.
Serial murders differ from "spree" murders, which Bonn defines as the killing of multiple people at different locations over a short period of time, usually within a week.
Bonn said his definition of serial killer stems from the "classical" FBI definition, but that agency in 2005 reduced the murder threshold from three to two and dropped the cooling-off period all together.
If Monica is convicted on the two murders for which she's charged, "based on the FBI's criteria, you have a serial killer there," Bonn said in a telephone interview Friday.
Statistically, women account for up to 20 percent of serial killers, even though they account for just 10 percent of single murders, said Bonn, who was unfamiliar with Monica's case.
"It's statistically more likely for a woman to be a serial killer than a murderer," he said.
Women serial killers are more likely than men to kill people they know, Bonn said. Also, statistics show women are far less likely to use violence such as strangulation, stabbing or shooting "and even less likely to dismember" their victims than men, Bonn said.
Investigators have been at Monica's farm around the clock since they entered with their first search warrant Jan. 10 to investigate the identity theft charge but quickly found evidence of a homicide.
Acquaintances, tenants and former employees described Monica as a "hoarder" who lived in somewhat squalid conditions, rarely bathed and owned a backhoe. They said her property was pockmarked with dimples and depressions.
"I think it will be safe to say more than 50" holes have been dug by investigators, sometimes over where they noticed ground disturbances and other times when something on the surface suggested evidence could be below, Heckert said.
Three multiple-family driveways that offer access to and around Monica's farm have remained blocked by Jackson County sheriff's deputies during the search, which has no set date for conclusion.
"It's unusual for us to be out on a crime scene for this period of time," Heckert said. "The circumstances dictate this. This is an unusual case."
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.