Warning: The following article mentions sexual assault. Please read with caution.
The Investigation Discovery true crime documentary Lost Women of Highway 20 tells the story of several sexual assaults and murders which took place along a remote stretch of Highway 20 in Oregon. John Arthur Ackroyd committed three of the crimes covered in the show, and is suspected in at least two others.
According to the true crime documentary, Ackroyd’s first murder happened in 1978, when jogger Kaye Turner went missing near the Central Oregon town of Camp Sherman. Ackroyd, who lived in the area where Turner vanished, came forward in 1979 with articles of Turner’s clothing, claiming to be the last person to see her alive. Police at that time, however, were unable to pin Ackroyd with criminal charges.
In the early 1990s, Ackroyd was convicted of Turner’s death, and later convicted on charges related to his stepdaughter’s disappearance in a plea deal while serving his sentence for Turner’s murder. He pleaded no contest to the charges, OregonLive reported. Pickle was 13 when she went missing and despite Ackroyd’s conviction, the teenager’s body was never found.
An Ackroyd accomplice, Roger Dale Beck was also convicted for Turner’s death. Both men were sentenced to life in prison. As of this report, Beck was serving his sentence in a Salem, Oregon facility.
Where is John Arthur Ackroyd now?
Reportedly, John Arthur Ackroyd died in 2016 at the age of 67. He was found dead in his cell from what were ruled natural causes. He had been in poor health before he died, according to OregonLive. When Ackroyd died, prosecutors were preparing to charge Ackroyd with two additional unsolved murders of women from the same area: Sheila Swanson, and Melissa Sanders, who were killed in 1992, one year before Ackroyd was arrested in the Kaye Turner case.
Another woman, Marlene Gabrielsen said she was raped by Ackroyd near Highway 20 one year before Turner died in 1978. Gabrielsen reported the crime, but Ackroyd was never prosecuted. As a teenager, Ackroyd was arrested for theft. Advances in DNA technology are what ultimately helped bring Ackroyd to justice for Turner’s murder.
The Investigation Discovery series, Lost Women of Highway 20, is produced and narrated by actress Octavia Spencer.
Referring to Ackroyd’s crimes, Spencer said (via OregonLive), “I had never heard of this story. I had never heard of these women, or the killer, or the circumstance that allowed him to hide in plain sight … I knew that we really wanted to tell this story. We really wanted to restore some of the dignity that was taken from these women,” Butler added.
Lost Women of Highway 20 is available to stream now on Max.
If you know someone suffering from sexual violence, contact RAINN or the National Sexual Abuse Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.