Real Name: David Harold Fisher
Aliases: David Harry Fisher, David Fisher, David Harry Snyder
Wanted For: Murder, Escape
Missing Since: September 1, 1974
Details: In June of 1970, twenty-nine-year-old David Harry Fisher met thirteen-year-old Laura Lea Burbank at the Tacoma pet store where he worked. The two shared a love of animals and became friends. He told her that he was an animal trainer. She wanted to learn how to train animals and he told her that he could teach her. However, he said that they had to do it somewhere else.
A few weeks after meeting Fisher, on June 30, Laura left her home to go to the pet store. Originally, she was supposed to go with her sister and a friend, but both were unable to go, so she went alone. Shortly after 2PM, one of Laura's neighbors saw her at a parking lot near the store. She told him that she was waiting for her friend who was going to teach her to train monkeys. Fifteen minutes later, when the neighbor went by the parking lot again, he discovered that she was not there.
When she didn't return home at 2PM, her parents became concerned. That night, her father drove around town looking for her. However, he found no trace of her. After Laura was reported missing, police questioned Fisher, who lived with his sixteen-year-old pregnant wife. He denied having a friendship with Laura.
Police got their first significant break where Fisher's wife came to the police station. She told investigators that one night, he came home late and insisted that she wash a pair of his jeans. He repeatedly demanded her to wash the jeans as soon as possible. She noted that the jeans were extremely dirty. This was uncharacteristic of him, as he was an "immaculate dresser" who would not have soiled clothing.
His wife also told investigators that two weeks after Laura vanished, she was doing laundry when she found a pair of female underpants that she did not recognize. It was suspected that he may have kept them as a "souvenir". Laura's parents identified the underpants as belonging to their daughter. Investigators also learned that a pet store truck that Fisher had access to was seen near where she was last seen. Nearly three months later, a group of children playing in the woods found Laura's body in a shallow grave in Olympia, thirty miles from where she was last seen.
Although her body was badly decomposed, investigators were able to determine that she had been sexually molested and then killed by a blow to the head. First-degree murder charges were filed against Fisher, but he disappeared. Eight days later, he voluntarily surrendered at the Sheriff's department. He told investigators "You've got me now" and then asked if he could remain free for the birth of his child. His request was denied. Because the evidence was circumstantial, he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
For three years, Fisher was a model prisoner. His sentence was reduced and he was assigned to the prison's minimum security honor farm. Surprisingly, in 1974, the farm had no walls or security fences to keep the prisoners inside. In the late afternoon on September 1, he literally walked out of the prison. No one noticed he was missing until the evening prisoner count. By that time, he was several hours ahead of his searchers. He has not been seen since.
Investigators believe that Fisher is a pathological psychopath who will continue to prey on young girls until he is apprehended. They believe that he may not even realize that what he does is wrong. They also fear that he may strike again, or has already struck again. Since his escape, three other Tacoma girls have been murdered under similar circumstances. In 1980, thirteen-year-old Carla Wright disappeared on her way to school in Tacoma's south end. Six years later, in 1986, twelve-year-old Michella Welch disappeared from the Puget Sound Park in Tacoma. Five months after that, thirteen-year-old Jenny Bastian disappeared from Tacoma's Point Defiance Park. Eventually, the bodies of all three girls were found in wooded areas not far from the places where they disappeared.
Laura Burbank is the only proven victim of Fisher. Her family hopes that he can be captured so that no one else has to go what they have gone through.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the December 6, 1989 episode.
Results: Captured. Thanks to a viewer's tip, Fisher was arrested in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on January 4, 1990 after fifteen years on the run. Surprisingly, he had watched the broadcast and was "not surprised" when officers came to arrest him the next day. He was living by the name Michael Raymond Porter and worked as a door-to-door salesman. Disturbingly, he also performed magic shows in elementary and nursery schools. He was also married and had three children. His new family apparently knew nothing about his past.
In January of 1990, Fisher was extradited back to the United States to continue serving his sentence. If it had not been for his escape, he could have been released a year later on the time he was captured. It is not known if he had received extra time for his escape. It is believed that Fisher was paroled in the late-1990s; however, this has not been confirmed.
Fisher was also investigated for possible involvement in the unsolved murders of children in the United States and Canada. However, it is not known if any other crimes were ever attributed to him. The murders of Jenny Bastian and Michella Welch were recently solved due to DNA testing; Fisher was not involved in either case.
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- David Fisher at Unsolved Canada
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