It would take police months to link those casings to the ones recovered at other murder scenes in Phoenix.

Within a day after her murder, fingerprints identified the victim as Tina Washington.

Femenia informed one of her grown sons of her murder and asked the young man whether his mom wore jewelry. Though broken with grief, he answered without hesitation:

Preschool aide Tina Washington's body was found December 12, 2005, behind a warehouse at 40th Street and Southern Avenue.
Paul Rubin
Preschool aide Tina Washington's body was found December 12, 2005, behind a warehouse at 40th Street and Southern Avenue.
Kentucky con James Mullins falsely confessed to murdering one of Goudeau's early victims.
Kentucky con James Mullins falsely confessed to murdering one of Goudeau's early victims.

"The ring."

That would be the "mother's ring," with the names of Tina's three sons inscribed next to each of their birthstones.

Femenia later also learned that one of Tina's co-workers had tried on a new bracelet of Tina's on the day of the murder before placing it back into a ziplock sandwich bag with the ring.

Tina, the co-worker said, usually took off her jewelry and put it in the bag, so as not to call attention to it when she walked across Southern Avenue from the school to the bus stop for her ride home.

That bag would become Exhibit 29 at Mark Goudeau's trial.

But it still would be months before Femenia had any clue that Tina Washington was Mark Goudeau's first homicide victim in Phoenix.

Nor did they know that, just a few months earlier, on September 5, 2005, Goudeau had gunned down Georgia Thompson in the parking lot of her Tempe apartment complex.

Thompson was shot once in the back of her head at close range shortly after midnight. Like Tina, her shirt was pulled up and her pants were unbuttoned when the police got there. Her purse also was missing. Thompson had just exited her car after an evening out that included dinner with her boyfriend and his parents.

The inscription on her orange T-shirt read "Better Luck Next Time."

This part of the Goudeau epic also would include slipshod police work by a Tempe police detective who tearfully apologized for her mistakes at Goudeau's recent trial.

Susan Schoville was swayed in late 2005 by career Kentucky con James Mullins that he had murdered Thompson after a meeting at a Tempe bar went sour.

Yes, Mullins confessed to the slaying, and the overeager Schoville bought his story after providing him with enough information to help make his tale sound at least plausible at first blush.

In truth, though, Mullins never had even set foot in Arizona before the murder, and he was guilty — in this jurisdiction — of nothing but stupidity.

The catalysts for Mullins included a tabloid television show — where he learned enough about the Thompson case to conjure up a yarn.

As nutty as it sounds, his apparent motivation was to get out of Kentucky and be housed in a prison facility where he might be allowed to smoke cigarettes.

If all this seems too strange, consider that a Maricopa County grand jury indicted Mullins on second-degree murder charges and that former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods personally led the prosecution.

But in mid-2006, Phoenix police forensically linked the Thompson murder to crimes committed by the serial Baseline Killer. After several tense weeks that played out in the media, the case against Mullins was dismissed and he was shipped back to Kentucky ("I Dunnit," September 21, 2006).

As the Baseline Killer's body count mounted in early 2006, Phoenix police created a task force, assigning several seasoned detectives and more than 100 street officers to the case full time.

Also, in early 2006, the cops decided to go public with a composite sketch that combined the independent recollections of two victims from November 3, 2005.

That night, a man with a dreadlock wig and wearing a fisherman's hat had held up a lingerie store on 32nd Street just south of Indian School Road.

Immediately afterward, he forced a young woman at gunpoint to drive him out of the area. He nabbed her as she was dropping off clothes into a donation bin.

The woman went along with his sexual demands and probably lived as a result. Mark Goudeau's DNA later was identified on swabs taken from her body that night, among other evidence.

The composite sketch depicted a round-faced black man with a thin mustache, the dreadlocks, and a floppy hat.

It appeared all over the media and, later, on billboards, including one at 24th Street and Indian School, five minutes by car from Mark Goudeau's home.

Behind the scenes, though, Phoenix police seemed stalled on the all-important forensic fronts.

The Baseline Task Force detectives became increasingly vocal, as the summer approached, in their insistence that any DNA evidence had to get processed with greater urgency. (A pending lawsuit in Superior Court alleges that the department's failure to timely test critical swabs for DNA or to send the swabs to the superior state lab cost several Baseline Killer victims their lives.)

Crime-scene techs had found DNA on the right breast of one of the South Phoenix sisters from the September 2005 assaults. But the Phoenix lab scientists concluded it wasn't a sufficient sample to identify a suspect through the national or state DNA-linked databases.

The Phoenix lab also chose not to test the swab from the woman's left breast, which had been covered with dirt after the rapist made the older sister (six months pregnant) spit in his hand before he wiped it on the breast in an apparent effort to get rid of his own DNA.

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