Yates was killer before he worked at Whidbey General
July 3, 2008 · Updated 1:02 PM
"A year after serial killer Robert Yates killed his first victims, he returned to Whidbey Island and worked at Whidbey General Hospital.But hospital officials aren't sure exactly how long Yates, a 1970 Oak Harbor High School graduate, worked there. Investigators at the Sheriff's Office are also unsure whether his employment at the hospital coincided with the date of an unsolved murder in Coupeville.Hospital Community Relations Director Trish Rose said the only evidence she has that Yates worked at the hospital is documentation of a pre-employment physical Yates had at the end of 1975, and some hazy memories of Yates' fellow employees.The hospital throws away personnel files after seven years, so there are few details of his employment.What the hospital does know, Rose said, is that Yates worked in housekeeping with his mother, Anna May Yates, who was a long-time employee. She died in 1976.Yates' best friend in high school, Al Gatti, said he remembers Yates living in Coupeville during that time. Rose said there are rumors circulating that Yates only worked at the hospital for about six months, but nobody remembers for certain.Yet Yates was already a murderer when he worked at the hospital. He recently pleaded guilty to 13 killings, including that of two college kids, Susan Savage and Patrick Oliver, in 1975 near Walla Walla. Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley has been looking into possible connection between Yates and the 1977 murder of 19-year-old Coupeville resident Teresa Hesselgrave.Hawley has sent possible DNA evidence found underneath Hesselgrave's fingernails to the state crime lab for analysis. There is also evidence that Yates and Hesselgrave shared friends at the time and may have known each other.In a recent statement released through the Sheriff's Office, Hesselgrave's family members state that they appreciate the concern and support of the community over the years but they ask that their privacy be respected. "