‘Lost Women Of Highway 20’ Episode 2 Recap & Ending: What Happens In Marlene Gabrielsen’s Case?

The previous episode of the true crime documentary, Lost Women of Highway 20, about the disappearance of Kaye Turner and Rachanda Pickle, had me believing that the person who showed up at Gary’s, the Camp Sherman Store’s owner, was a different person than John Ackroyd, who was now being interrogated for Rachanda’s disappearance. But the episode begins and shocks everyone with the revelation that it indeed was John Ackroyd, who had a history of offenses, and if the police had been a little more discerning, they could have stopped Rachanda’s or Kaye’s murder. Episode 2 of the documentary focuses on the overall cultural unaccountability where men like Ackroyd were allowed to go scot-free even though there was circumstantial evidence against them in an older case. The inner workings of the police in a small town in Oregon were glanced over, and we got a clear sense that times have changed for the better.


Spoilers Ahead

What Did John Say In The Interrogation?

Whenever the police interrogated John about the disappearance of his stepdaughter Rachanda, he would describe what ‘another guy’ would have done. The police began to have a disturbing feeling that when John described how this ‘guy’ would have killed Rachanda, he was actually describing what he himself had done. In a bizarre case, when questioned about where he was during her disappearance, he first stated that he had left earlier from work and that later that day he had the best sex of his life with his wife Linda. This was absolutely shocking for the detectives to hear, as generally, when a kid has gone missing, parents can’t even think about anything else, let alone sex. But the excuse was that John thought that Rachanda hadn’t gone missing and that she would return. The detectives who had worked on the cases linked to possible sexual assault and disappearance cases knew that arousal was definitely linked with violence, and John’s admission about his evening made it look like his unusual arousal was due to the fact that he had just committed a violent crime.


What Was John’s Connection To Kaye’s Case?

Gary revealed that 11 years ago, John was the one who came to the store to claim the $1,000 reward for giving information about her. He said he was the last one to see her alive, which immediately sounded off. It turns out that when the police came, they already had him on file as one of the suspects, as he had been one of the witnesses who had seen Kaye jogging on Highway 20. They did a polygraph test on him, and he failed. The theory was that he was working with an accomplice, and his colleague Roger Beck was contacted, whose wife Pam provided an alibi for both Roger and John, and the case weakened. Nevertheless, John showed the police where he had found the clothes, and they did find a few bones apart from the clothes and jewelry, which helped the police ascertain Kaye had definitely been killed. So the missing person’s case was now a homicide case, but who exactly killed her and how? The police couldn’t pin the murder on John, but everybody had a strong inkling that he was the one who did it and perhaps received help from Roger. There was another case in John’s past where he should have faced jail time, but the shockingly lukewarm behavior from the county police perhaps helped the criminal continue on his path.

What Was The Negligence In Marlene Gabrielsen’s Case?

A year before Kaye disappeared on Christmas Eve, 1978, Marlene Gabrielsen had been assaulted by John Ackroyd. The case to this day remains an example of how rural police swept sexual assault cases under the rug and didn’t take them seriously. In 1977, Marlene, who lived in the small town of Sisters, 25 miles off of Santiam, was returning from the rodeo. She needed a ride into town. John lived far off in the opposite direction of the town in Sweet Home, but on the fateful day, he was right where he could find his prey. Marlene took a lift from John, where he assaulted her. She complied with all of his demands, as she was a mother and didn’t want to get killed by John. John dropped her off, and Marlene immediately called the cops about the crime. John was called in for questioning, and he stated that Marlene actually made advances at him and not the other way around. The police cross-questioned Marlene to such an extent that she started to feel like she was dumb to have filed a police report. One counterstatement from John had weakened her case, it seemed. But it added to the offenses that John had or might have had that weren’t even reported.


Could Rachanda Have Been Saved?

It wasn’t that something happened out of the blue. The signs were there. Byron was pleased to have John as a stepdad, who probably was a little more outgoing than Steve, but even he noticed the strange behavior John had towards Rachanda. Byron described how one day John came into Rachanda’s room on the pretext of calming her down, as she was having a nightmare. There was a paddle he had made to spank Rachanda if she did something out of line. Rachanda’s school friends noticed the depression she was sinking into, and as the friends had been assaulted by their stepdads, they understood her pain, but what could they do about it? If just one person had listened to her, then perhaps Rachanda could have been saved. But if a woman like Marlene was not heard, then what chance did 13-year-olds have? There was still nobody, and the police could do nothing, even though they had found a rope and a few blood stains, which indicated that John had taken her to the woods by force and killed her. The atmosphere in the town was one of disgust and dread. Nobody wanted John to live in Santiago. So John applied for a transfer, and that became an even bigger problem as he went to Corvallis, a town famous for its colleges full of young boys and girls. Did something happen there that ultimately got John caught, or did he get away with another crime? The final episode is expected to reveal what happened next.

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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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