CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Bob Evans sat at a picnic table outside friend Katherine Decker’s motorhome in 1986, sobbing that his wife had died when his then-5-year-old daughter, Lisa, was just a baby.
“He really did cry. He’d cry and blow his nose and everything when he talked about it,” Decker recalled. “I used to feel really bad all the time about it. Every time I saw him, I’d just feel sick.”
But Evans hadn’t been married to Lisa’s mother. She wasn’t his daughter, and her name wasn’t Lisa. He also told Decker his name was Gordon Jenson.
Three decades later, authorities say only one part of his story was true: The girl’s mother was dead. And they believe Evans killed her, along with at least five other women and children.
Evans — who over his lifetime had gone by different names — died in prison in 2010, eight years after he killed and dismembered his actual wife in Richmond, California. On Thursday, authorities linked him to five earlier killings — the mother of the girl he called Lisa, and a woman and three children whose bodies were found in barrels in New Hampshire. Those four have not been identified, but investigators say based on DNA evidence, one of the girls was Evans’ daughter.
“What’s clear is this is someone who targeted females and specifically children,” said Jeffery Strezlin, New Hampshire’s senior assistant attorney general. “He certainly fits the profile of a serial killer.”
In 1981, Evans was living with his girlfriend, Denise Beaudin, and her 6-month-old daughter, Dawn, in New Hampshire. All three disappeared just after Thanksgiving that year, but Beaudin’s family never reported her missing because they believed the couple left town due to money troubles. Though her body has not been found, authorities believe Evans killed Beaudin somewhere between New Hampshire and California, where, by 1985, he was living and working at an RV Park in Scotts Valley.
Decker, now 85, was staying at the park temporarily with her husband who was working for the state of California. In a phone interview Friday, the woman said she remembers Lisa as a friendly, outspoken child.
“She was always coming and sitting on my lap when I’d be sitting outside the motorhome on nice days,” said Decker. “I had a little grandson who was her age and they used to play together all the time.”
The girl had no toys, Decker said. She and Evans slept in the back of a truck, in what Decker remembered as a shell of a camper that was open on one side.
“I don’t understand how they could live like that. It was freezing cold,” she said. “She was tattered and torn, she was a little ragamuffin.”
Evans frequently visited with Decker to have coffee. He never mentioned having lived in New Hampshire.
“I thought he was a weird guy but I thought he was nice, I didn’t know any better,” Decker said.
In June 1986, Evans abandoned Lisa and fled. He later served about 18 months in jail for child abandonment, but took off after being paroled in 1990, authorities said. In 2003, he was convicted of killing Eunsoon Jun, whom he had married in an unofficial ceremony two years earlier. Her partially dismembered body was found in their basement, buried under cat litter.
“He could’ve done that to me,” Decker said. “I had no idea, and I used to sit there and talk and talk to him.”
Lisa stayed with Decker’s daughter and son-in-law for a short time and was later adopted. On Thursday, authorities released a statement from her saying she is happily married with three children of her own.
Decker said she has never forgotten the little girl who sat on her lap and called her “Grandma.”
“I’m an old lady now. But she’s welcome to call or visit me,” she said.
Associated Press news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this story.