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Montana Authorities Seek Clues of Suspected Serial Killer

October 25, 1986 GMT

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ Authorities investigating a recluse who was killed in an attack on a young couple have found evidence linking him to a series of killings in western Montana as far back as 1974.

Police and the FBI are trying to find out where else Wayne N. Nance may have traveled since then.

Authorities say they are convinced that Nance, 30, of East Missoula, who was killed when he invaded his employer’s house in September, had murdered a couple found tied up and stabbed to death in their home last December and killed a woman whose remains were found buried east of town in 1984.

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In addition, he is a suspect in at least four other unsolved murders in the area, and authorities have sent information on him out on the national crime information network.

″We’re just trying to figure out where he was for the last seven or eight years,″ says Capt. Larry Weatherman of the Missoula County sheriff’s office. ″He was in the Navy (from 1974-1977), so we know he was outside of Montana for three or four years.″

Weatherman has asked for Nance’s military records to find out where he was stationed, and the FBI is compiling a profile of Nance to compare with other unsolved crimes in the Northwest.

″We want to find out if he’s been on the road,″ said Brent Warberg, an FBI expert on serial killers.

Weatherman says it may be difficult to follow Nance’s path, for he was a secretive loner, apparently without close friends or much contact with relatives.

Nance drove a delivery truck for a Missoula furniture store. Early on the morning of Sept. 4, he entered the home of the store’s manager, Kristen Wells, and her husband Doug.

He knocked out Wells, made Mrs. Wells help tie up her husband, then tied up Mrs. Wells and stabbed her husband.

But while Nance was out of the room, Wells freed himself, got a rifle and shot Nance. They struggled; Wells bashed Nance on the head with the rifle and shot him in the head with Nance’s pistol. Nance died in a Missoula hospital.

Police remembered that Nance had been a suspect in the 1974 rape and murder of a Missoula-area pastor’s wife who was tied up and shot five times in the back of the head.

No arrest was made in that case, although Nance was questioned and circumstantial evidence appeared to link him to the killing. Missoula County Attorney Robert Deschamps III says he’s convinced Nance was the killer.

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When authorities searched the store where Nance worked, they found primitive weapons that employees said belonged to Nance, including sticks with barbed-metal points and a yard-long carved wooden sword. Similar items were found at his home, and acquaintances said he was fascinated with knives.

Also found at Nance’s home were items identified as belonging to Mike and Teresa Shook, found murdered in their home near Hamilton, south of Missoula, on Dec. 12, 1985.

Authorities have learned that Nance delivered furniture to the Shook home in November.

Weatherman says hair found on Nance’s pickup matches that of female remains found east of town Dec. 24, 1984. The unidentified woman was shot several times in the head, he said. She is believed to have been a drifter who met Nance at a bar.

Her body was one of three sets of female remains found in eastern Missoula County near Interstate 90 since 1980. Another crime in which Nance may have been involved was the 1976 murder of a Missoula teacher who was tied up, sexually assaulted and stabbed.

Weatherman says it’s not likely a link between those killings and Nance will ever be proved because of a lack of physical evidence.

″These serial killers are extremely smart,″ he says. ″They usually have a pretty decent I.Q. and they don’t leave much evidence behind. They prepare well for their crimes. It makes it pretty tough.″