Killer of teenage girl sentenced to life in prison, 14 years after murder


John Whitaker received life without parole for the second time Friday for the murder of Rachel Burkheimer.


EVERETT, Wash. – One of Rachel Burkheimer’s murderers is set to be sentenced for a second time on Friday -- 14 years to the day of her death.

The 18-year-old teen was kidnapped in 2002, beaten and shot in a grave that twice-convicted John Whitaker helped dig.

“Is it fair? Is it just? Is it justice? I don’t know, I really don’t know,” said Bill Burkheimer, the victim's father.

Tomorrow’s resentencing of Whitaker does not bring closure for the Burkheimer family. He said it is a wound that will never heal.

“This is not a moment of celebration for us,” he said. “It’s victory, but it’s a loss all at the same time, it’s really hard to explain, it’s really hard to put into words.”

On Friday, Whitaker will be sentenced to life without parole again for his part in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Rachel Burkheimer. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2004 and appealed the conviction. His appeal was stalled while courts heard a case with similar arguments. In 2013, he was given a retrial.

“This last trial, which was 12 years after the last trial,” said Burkheimer, "it was the hardest of all of them, mentally, emotionally physically in every aspect."

A jury convicted him again this year.

“I know John Whitaker got a fair trial,” said Burkheimer.

Whitaker is one of eight men convicted in Rachel’s death. He was 19 when he helped dig Rachel’s grave, taking her jewelry before her ex-boyfriend John Anderson, serving a life sentence, shot her to death.

“Every one of the defendants’ families have lost one of their sons, the impact of this spreads out and touches a lot of people,” said Burkheimer.

He said tomorrow, their family will be losing Rachel again. He said her sister described it best, “the sad part is when it’s all over it’s like we have to watch her walk off into the sunset and say goodbye again.”

Whitaker is scheduled to be sentenced in Snohomish County Court Friday afternoon.