Serial killer Robert Lee “Bob” Yates committed some of the most gruesome murders Washington has ever seen. The quiet husband and father’s 18 slayings were so horrible that he was sentenced to death. Yet, somehow, nearly 20 years after sentencing, he’s still rotting away in Washington State Penitentiary.
Yates made a habit of picking up young female prostitutes in the “Skid Row” area of Spokane, WA, having sex with them, and then murdering them. He admitted he did this to 13 women from 1996 to 1998. All 13 women were found dumped around the rural town, with a precise gunshot wound to their head. This clearly pointed to Bob’s history in the military, where he spent 18 years and won several medals of honor.
Yates was nearly caught when a woman he assaulted, shot, and robbed escaped him and went to police in 1998. One month later, he was asked for a DNA sample, but insisted that as a “family man,” he couldn’t oblige such an extreme request. Two years later in 2002, he was arrested in connection with another murder. At that time police searched his car, finding DNA evidence to link him to 12 more slayings.
Thanks to a plea bargain, Yates escaped the death penalty for the 13 murders, instead getting 408 years in prison. The death penalty finally came in 2002 when he was charged with another two killings in Pierce County. He has also since confessed to two Walla Walla murders in 1975 and another in 1988 in Skagit County. Even with a grand total of 18 murders under his belt, Yates felt that he should not receive the lethal injection he was sentenced to. He has claimed that he’s a necrophiliac, and it was the fault of his mental illness that he committed the crimes. Though his appeals keep failing, he is still alive thanks to the fact that Washington Governor Jay Inslee refuses to sign any death orders while he’s in office. So here we are, nearly 20 years after Yates first went to prison, and he’s still alive and well in jail.