Little known about suspected serial killer's life while in the Wiregrass

FORT RUCKER-Little is known about the life of Robert Lee Yates Jr., while he lived in the local area and served in the U.S. Army as an instructor pilot at Fort Rucker.While local law enforcement authorities look into the possibility that the 47-year-old aviator may have been involved in a 5-year-old local murder, Yates is facing one murder charge in Spokane, Wash., and is expected to be charged with more in what is being described as one of the worst serial killings in tne nation's history. Yates was taken into custody in Spokane, Wash., April 18 in connection with the murder of a 16-year-old girl but law enforcement authorities in Washington report that he is a strong suspect in at least 12 homicides in the Spokane-Tacoma area, and may be connected to up to 18.Yates, an aluminum smelter strike replacement worker and helicopter pilot in the Washington state National Guard, served at Fort Rucker as an OH-58 Kiowa Scout instructor pilot from July 1995 to April 1996. Fort Rucker Public Affairs Officer Maj. Mike Negard said it is believed Yates also had served and/or trained at Fort Rucker at some point prior to 1995 but no records are available to determine the time period.Negard said Yates opted for an early withdrawal in 1996 after 18 years in the Army. He had been stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., prior to coming to Fort Rucker in 1995. Yates was a member of the 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment.Negard said Fort Rucker officials plan to release no further information."As with all of our interactions with local law enforcement, Fort Rucker is prepared to assist in any way if requested by civilian authority," he said.Negard said as of Friday post officials had not been contacted by Washington state law enforcement officials or other authorities.Early news reports about Yates' arrest indicated he lived on Andrews Drive in Daleville while he was stationed at Fort Rucker. However, the Sun-Courier has confirmed that Yates lived on N. Harris Street on Fort Rucker at least a part of the year that he lived in the Wiregrass.Spokane newspaper reporters covering the Yates case also said their information indicates Yates lived on post.Dale County Sheriff Bryant Mixon has said his office is looking into the possibility that Yates may have been involved in the 1995 murder of a 19-year-old transvestite Terayon Corbett Aug. 10, 1995, but at this point "we have nothing to connect him" to that murder.Mixon said the Yates case is very interesting to local authorities and they want to compare facts in the Corbett murder to the Yates case. However, he said the local investigation will be postponed until the peak of the Spokane investigation passes and authorities there have time to collaborate with him and the Dale County investigators.Mixon said officials do not believe Yates could be connected to the September 1991 murder of 19-year-old Daleville High School graduate Holley Respress since he is not believed to have been in the Wiregrass at that time.Yates was linked to the murder of 16-year-old prostitute Jennifer Joseph after a 2-1/2 year investigation by Spokane law enforcement officials.He was ordered held on a $1.5 million cash bond during his first appearance in a Spokane County Jail courtroom last Wednesday and he has requested a public defender.Described by neighbors in his Spokane as private and somewhat of a loner, Yates is married and has five children.Local residents were expressing shock and disbelief Friday that anyone living in the local area could be responsible for so many gruesome murders."You never know who might be living in your neighborhood," one Daleville resident said. "It's scary."

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