Cold Case Files: The Search For David Willoughby's Killer - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cold Case Files: The Search For David Willoughby's Killer

Posted: Updated:

The case has gone unsolved for 43 years, but cold case detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office hope the murder of 8-year-old David Willoughby won't remain unsolved for much longer.

"David's memory ends in a tragedy and I want to close that for his family, I do," Detective Kirk Keyser told KHQ's Kelsey Watts. "How can you not have a connection to an innocent 8-year-old little boy?"

Detective Keyser has been working on the case for four years, pouring over two volumes of case files, reports, interviews with witnesses and evidence.

It was September 8, 1970 when Willoughby's older brother and his friend decided to walk from their home to Geiger Field, where kids were commonly given parachutes at the time. Detective Keyser said David and his friend took off after the older children – but stayed behind them by a few minutes. However, David's friend became tired and decided to turn back near Highway 2. David pressed on alone.

"That was the last time David was absolutely, positively seen - not captive, and alive," Detective Keyser added.

Two witnesses later reported seeing David with a man in a green 1959 Nash Rambler Station Wagon. One said David came in to a store with the man, and a woman reported seeing a man fumbling with something in the back seat of the car. When it passed her, she saw a little boy in the back crying and screaming for help.

18 days after his disappearance, David's body was found in the underbrush of the Pend Oreille County Park, just across the county line.

"According to the autopsy, David had been sexually assaulted and strangled," Detective Keyser said. "It appears he was kept alive for 8-10 days after his disappearance."

That behavior leads Keyser to believe David's killer may be linked to other cold cases across the northwest.

But who did it?

For the first nine years, dozens of people were ruled out; however, it wasn't until 1979 someone called in a tip that lead detectives to a person of interest in the case who matched the description of the man with the 1959 wagon. However, he died a year later.

Now, 43 years after David's death, a relative of the person of interest has volunteered to give a DNA sample. Detective Keyser knows a DNA profile of an adult man was collected from the crime scene and now he's hoping this new evidence will help close the case – whether it leads back to that person of interest or someone else.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    10 Cheapest Houses For Sale In Spokane

    Wednesday, November 27 2013 2:35 AM EST2013-11-27 07:35:08 GMT
    Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - Whether you are in the market for an affordable place to live or are in the business of flipping houses, here are the 10 cheapest homes for sale in Spokane according to AllSpokaneHomes.com. Yes, they all need some work and some need a lot more than others, but when your mortgage payment is around the $200/month range there's at least something to stay positive about.>>
  • INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    INCREDIBLE drone video shows fire destruction over Pateros/Brewster

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:51 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:51:52 GMT
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
    KHQ.COM - Chelan HD Productions has given us permission to show this incredible video they shot with a drone surveying the damage done from the Carlton Complex Fire in the areas of Brewster and Pateros. This video is truly jaw dropping and really shows the level of destruction from the fire.>>
  • Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Do you know this person? Suspect still at large in Jitterz coffee stand robbery

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:14:57 GMT
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>
    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d’Alene Police Detectives and the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force are continuing to investigate the Robbery of The Jitterz coffee stand in the 2800 block of Government Way. The suspect is described as a white male, early 20’s, 5’08”-5’09”, very skinny build, white T-shirt, blue jean shorts.>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: Severe thunderstorms roll through the Inland Northwest

    PHOTOS: Severe thunderstorms roll through the Inland Northwest

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:44 AM EDT2014-07-24 14:44:35 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A storm seemed to leave just as fast as it arrived Wednesday in Spokane. High winds blew over trees and utility lines, causing widespread power outages and some severe property damage. INSIDE>>>| Power Outages | PHOTOS |>>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A storm seemed to leave just as fast as it arrived Wednesday in Spokane. High winds blew over trees and utility lines, causing widespread power outages and some severe property damage. INSIDE>>>| Power Outages | PHOTOS |>>
  • House without power catches fire due to candle

    House without power catches fire due to candle

    Thursday, July 24 2014 9:11 AM EDT2014-07-24 13:11:09 GMT
    KHQ.COM - There was heavy smoke hovering in the air this morning above Greenwood Avenue when firefighters responded to a structure fire at 5033 N. Greenwood around 3:30am. According to neighbors, a man lived in the basement of the home and a couple lived on the upper level.>>
    KHQ.COM - There was heavy smoke hovering in the air this morning above Greenwood Avenue when firefighters responded to a structure fire at 5033 N. Greenwood around 3:30am. According to neighbors, a man lived in the basement of the home and a couple lived on the upper level.>>
  • Storm damages RVs near Silverwood

    Storm damages RVs near Silverwood

    Thursday, July 24 2014 2:52 AM EDT2014-07-24 06:52:53 GMT
    ATHOL, Idaho - The storm that ripped through the Inland Northwest on Wednesday not only interrupted the fun at Silverwood Theme Park for a while, it also did some major damage to Silverwood's RV park across Highway 95. >>
    ATHOL, Idaho - The storm that ripped through the Inland Northwest on Wednesday not only interrupted the fun at Silverwood Theme Park for a while, it also did some major damage to Silverwood's RV park across Highway 95. Several RVs and cars were damaged due to falling branches and trees. Only one injury was reported, and it was a very minor knee injury.Multiple crews were called into to remove the downed trees. >>