FBI Sacramento
Public Affairs Specialist Gina Swankie
(916) 977-2285
December 30, 2014

Community Urged to Help Identify Woman

The Sacramento Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks assistance from the public to identify a woman whose body was found in the greater Seattle, Washington area more than 25 years ago. The King County Sheriff’s Office has been unable to reveal the woman’s true identity despite more than two decades of investigation and assistance from the FBI to follow a trail of false information.

“Somewhere, a family has been awaiting news of the whereabouts of a child, sister, or aunt for 25 years,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Sacramento FBI. “Someone in one of the communities she lived in or visited can identify her, providing an opportunity for a proper burial for her and answers for her family.”

Sacramento may hold the best clue to the woman’s true identity. An FBI number was issued to the woman after a 1977 arrest by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department on February 4, 1977. This number is used to track an individual’s fingerprints. The number was issued to Brenda N. O’Neil with a stated birth date of April 27, 1958. O’Neil listed her address as 2953 San Jose Way in Sacramento, a residence in North Oak Park and her booking documents also list an alias, Brenda Victor. The name Brenda O’Neil may also be an alias.

On October 3, 1989, a woman’s skeletal remains were found behind a freight shipping business located at 2326 Airport Way South in the greater Seattle, Washington area by a construction crew. The petite woman’s body was discovered under some tree limbs that had been cut and discarded during the prior fall. She was clad in garments that were difficult to identify due to the condition of her body, but a gold-tone Baylor watch on her left wrist and white Diadora shoes with turquoise accents on her feet were identifiable.

The only information that is known about the woman is that she was a black or mixed-race female with black hair who stood approximately 5’3” tall, weighed 110-120 pounds, and was approximately 35-40 years old at the time of her death in 1988. She had tattoos on her left forearm and right arm.

Authorities in Washington believe the deceased woman is a person who failed to appear in court nearly a year earlier and seemingly disappeared: Rita Lang. Lang had a number of arrests for drug and prostitution charges in the greater Seattle area 1983-1988 and always appeared in court as directed. In November 1988, Lang failed to appear in court for drug-related charges and was never seen again.

Lang listed two individuals as friends or contacts on her booking documents. Unfortunately, one of the contacts is also deceased. The King County Sheriff’s Office has been unable to locate the second contact, Harmon Williams.

Unfortunately, “Rita Lang” is an alias. It is one of many. The FBI number linked to Lang is tied to a number of arrests in which she used a variety of aliases, dates of birth ranging from 1958 to 1963, and a variety of places of birth that include Arizona, California, and Louisiana. All the following arrests are linked to a common FBI number:

  • California
    • Sacramento: one booking under the name Brenda N. O’Neil in 1977
    • San Jose: two prostitution bookings under the name Janet Dee in 1979
    • Fresno: two bookings under the name of Sherri Marie Edwards in 1981
  • Oregon
    • Portland, Oregon: one booking and an arrest by the U.S. Marshal’s office in Portland with the same name in 1982
  • Washington
    • Seattle: the first booking under the name Rita Lang occurred with subsequent bookings in 1984, 1985, and 1986.
    • Seattle: the final booking under the name Rita Lang, which resulted in a failure to appear after her disappearance.

To date, the FBI and King County Sheriff’s Office have been unsuccessful in identifying a true name for the deceased and in locating next of kin or associates.

“Despite media campaigns in the Seattle area and efforts to determine who Rita Lang really was, we keep running into dead ends,” said King County Detective Sheriff Detective Scott Tompkins. “We hope that someone who knew this woman in the 1970s can help us solve the mystery of who she is and provide her with a true name so she can rest in peace.”

Anyone who may recall Brenda O’Neil or a woman matching the photos and description on the FBI’s Seeking Information poster are encouraged to call the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-263-2068 or the Sacramento FBI at 916-9110. Individuals with information may also submit tips to Sacramento Crime Alert at 916-443-HELP or 800-AA-CRIME.

- FBI seeking information poster (includes photos)