Celia Victor murder: DNA leads to big breakthrough, real name of woman killed in 1988

KING COUNTY -- There's been a break in the case of a woman murdered in 1988 whose remains were found along a fence at a freight company in Seattle.

For years, the only name detectives had to go on was the one she gave police during a previous arrest,`Rita Lang.`

Now, King County detectives have identified her and notified her family, as the search for her killer continues.

“Her real name is Celia Victor and she had a couple of sisters down in the Sacramento area,” says King County detective Scott Tompkins. He knew the woman who called herself 'Rita Lang' had ties to California because her arrest record started there in the 70's, so after her story aired on WMW in February 2014, he contacted the FBI in Sacramento and they asked the local TV stations to show her photos. “Within two hours one of her sisters called in to identify her,” Tompkins recalls.

Celia’s sister, Arlene Seuell says, “We contacted the news station and they contacted police here in Sacramento.” Arlene and Celia’s other sister gave detectives a sample of their DNA. Finally, after so many years of wondering where Celia was, they now have an answer and are grateful. Tompkins adds, “They knew they had a sister, but growing up they had all been separated, kind of a rough childhood, and they came back together later in life. So they always knew they had another sister out there, they just didn’t know where.”

With the mystery of her identity solved, the focus turns to who murdered Celia. “My sister always felt that it was a Green River killer up in that area and he targeted prostitutes and runaways,” Seuell says, talking about convicted serial killer, Gary Ridgway.

That theory hasn’t escaped detective Tompkins as he continues to look for Celia’s killer, but in the meantime her family is looking for Celia’s children. “To our knowledge she has three other children. The oldest is a girl and her name is “Starla,” Seuell explains. “I’m not sure of the other children’s names, but hopefully this will get out and find them.”

Starla is likely in her 40's or maybe a little older.

Arlene wants to find her siblings and let them know they have a brother in Sacramento.

She also has a message for everyone watching. “I want to get the message to any family member that for whatever reason if you’re not attached to your family, just let them know where you are.” A small gesture that could make a big difference.

And, she always wants police to know she’s grateful. “This has been like almost 28 years and the initial detective, he wouldn’t let that go, it was a cold case and I’m just grateful that I may have an opportunity to find my family.”

If you know anything about the murder of Celia Victor, believed to have taken place in 1988, or if you know where Celia’s children are, call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS.