Serial killers and American true crime documentaries are a match made in heaven. Lost Women of Highway 20 brings another case of serial killings, where several women went missing near a highway in Oregon. There is usual suspense created about whether the killer was caught, but in the first episode, the focus is more on the family dynamics. The episode is split into two parts, figuratively speaking. The first part concentrates on the disappearance of a girl named Rachanda Lea Pickle, and the second part on the murder of a woman named Kaye Turner, who went missing over a decade ago in the same region of Oregon. The two cases are hinted to be linked together, and through the different people involved in the case—the sheriff, the local store owner, and the news reporters—the case’s impact on the family dynamics is explored. All this is just in the first episode. Here is a recap:
The Disappearance Of Rachanda Pickle
Rachanda, a 13-year-old girl, went missing in Santiam, Oregon. Santiam, being a small town right beside Highway 20, was not ready for a case of this magnitude, which would later be connected to another case, complicating everything further. Generally, when children aren’t found in their rooms, the parents usually call their friends to find out if they are at their place. But Rachanda was nowhere to be found. Rachanda’s mother thought that she had to wait 24 hours before reporting the case to the police, but after having waited a full day, she came to know that no such time limit existed in a missing child’s case. Whether these 24 hours would have helped or not is purely a conjecture at this point, but the fact of the matter is that Rachanda never returned.
She was the daughter of Steve and Linda Pickle, who had married at a very young age and had two children, the other being Byron. Byron described Rachanda as a funny, cute, and upbeat young girl who wouldn’t just run away, which is why her disappearance created an eerie atmosphere as the possibility of someone having kidnapped her became a strong one. There was Rachanda’s cousin Jennifer, who revealed that Steve was a pedophile and that Jennifer had been molested by him. So could Steve have done something unforgivable to Rachanda? The devil is in the details.
Steve and Linda had divorced each other long before Rachanda’s disappearance. Linda had married another man named John Ackroyd to have a bit more financial stability. Steve hadn’t cut ties with the family, and at the time of Rachanda’s disappearance, Byron was at Steve’s place, a little south of Santiam. Rachanda had left the place after an altercation with Steve, and she had told Byron she wanted to leave, and so she did. July 10 was the fateful day, but if you think Steve was behind her disappearance, think again, as he was with Byron, who was his alibi. There was Camp Sherman, a recreational place for people in the area to come and have a good time with their families. The owner of the Camp Sherman Store was a man named Gary Weston, who, after hearing the news about Rachanda’s disappearance, brought another angle into the picture, one that could possibly help nab the serial killer who had something to do with Kaye Turner’s disappearance.
The Disappearance Of Kaye Turner
Kaye wasn’t an Oregon local. She was the president of Eugene’s Planned Parenthood Association and came to visit Oregon, especially Camp Sherman, with her husband, Noel Turner. The year was 1978, and Kaye Turner went for a jog early in the morning and never returned. They were staying near Gary’s place, and he had even helped Noel find Kaye, but to no avail. The police had started the search, but she wasn’t going to be discovered, just as Rachanda wouldn’t be 12 years later. So how did Gary connect Rachanda’s case to Kaye’s? He saw the news on TV and heard the same man speak about Rachanda, who had shown up at his store a decade ago, telling Gary that he was the last person to see Kaye alive.
Kaye Turner was not having the best of times with Noel, and after the investigation, there was evidence found that made it clear that she was cheating on Noel. Noel could have discovered this and might have killed her in a fit of rage. But there was simply no proof; he had even cleared the polygraph test. The police continued the search mission in the woods on the other side of Highway 20, but Kaye was nowhere to be found, nor was there any clue that could tell what happened. The case had reached a dead end until one day, the mystery man arrived at Gary’s place, telling him about Kaye’s clothes that he had found in the woods. Kaye’s friends had put up a prize of $1,000 for anyone who would provide any information about the disappearance. So, the enticed mystery man had arrived seeking out the prize money, but he used the phrase ‘last one to see Kaye alive,’ which just didn’t sit right with Gary, and he called the police.
Who Were The Suspects?
So, in Rachanda’s case, the needle pointed towards Steve, the sex-obsessed pedophile, who also had a court case against him, which proved that children were not safe around him. But according to Gary, the man who had appeared offering Kaye’s clothing was the serial killer who had struck again, and this time, killed Rachanda, after having killed Kaye 12 years ago. But the authorities actually started to focus on John Ackroyd, who was the one who had no alibi for where he was at the time of Rachanda’s disappearance. This was a real shock to everybody, as Byron always found John to be a good father, who had taught him to fish and spent time with him like a real dad. He never behaved in a manner that would make anybody feel uncomfortable, but the episode ended with the police questioning him about Rachanda’s disappearance as if they had found incriminating evidence. The truth will be uncovered in the following episodes.