Terry Rasmussen

See also:

Confidential (Dawn Beaudin/Lisa Jensen)
Honeychurch, Marlyse Elizabeth
McWaters, Sarah
Rasmussen, Jane Doe
Vaughn, Marie

This case is part of a series of murders known as the Bear Brook Murders, or the Allenstown Murders. One of the most remarkable cold cases in U.S. history, the successful resolution of the Bear Brook murders by Barbara Rae-Venter led detectives to pursue FGG in the search for the Golden State Killer.

In the course of this investigation, Terry Peder Rasmussen was identified as the lead suspect in the murder of an adult woman and three girls in Allenstown, New Hampshire, as well as the kidnapping and sexual molestation of a 5-year-old girl in San Bernardino, California. The case was cleared by exception as Rasmussen died in prison in California in 2010 for a different murder.

The body of Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch was found on November 11, 1985, when a 55-gallon steel drum containing human remains was found in Bear Brook State Park near Allenstown, New Hampshire. The remains were of an adult woman and a young girl about 8-10 years old. Honeychurch is thought to have been about 26 or 27 years old when she died. They had been killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

On May 9, 2000 a second steel drum was found only about 100 yards from the first. It contained the remains of two more young girls. The younger girl was 1-3 years old and the older was about 2-4 years old. It is thought that the four Bear Brook victims were killed sometime between 1978 and 1981.

The FGG investigation was conducted by Barbara Rae-Venter, a Search Angel, who volunteered at the non-profit organization DNAAdoption.com where she assisted adopted individuals to identify their birth families. Rae-Venter has a PhD in biochemistry, and she worked for many years as a patent attorney in the biotech industry. She is a leader in using genetic genealogy to identify living does.

At first, Rae-Venter was not looking to identify the Bear Brook victims. She was attempting to identify ‘Lisa Jensen’, a grown woman who had been abducted and abandoned by an unknown male when she was about 5 years old. Lisa thought she was the biological daughter of a man named Gordon Jensen. Jensen was a pseudonym for a man whose real identity was discovered by Rae-Venter to be Terry Peder Rasmussen. DNA testing showed that Rasmussen was not the father of Lisa Jensen, but he was the father of the toddler whose body was found in second barrel at Bear Brook. Rasmussen was then identified as the lead suspect in the murder of the four Bear Brook victims, and the case was cleared by exception.

In 1978, at the time of the Bear Brook murders, Rasmussen worked in Allenstown as an electrician and handyman near the property where the barrels were found. In around 1981, another young mother named Denise Beaudin and her 6-month-old daughter disappeared from New Hampshire in very similar circumstances. Beaudin’s boyfriend at the time was Terry Rasmussen. The little girl was Lisa Jensen. They all moved to California together, but when Rasmussen was next seen in California he was in the company of only Lisa. Denise was not seen again after leaving New Hampshire with Rasmussen, and her body has never been found.

Rasmussen and Lisa lived in a trailer park in Scotts Valley, California in 1986. He then abandoned Lisa, who was then about 5 years old, with another family he met there. ‘Gordon Jensen’ was not seen again. Lisa Jensen was now a living Jane Doe, with no idea of when or where she was born, her parentage, or her name.

Lisa Jensen was a grown woman of 32 years old and a mother herself when the detectives working on her case approached Rae-Venter to identify her birth family. The lead detective working on Lisa’s abduction was Detective Peter Headley of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office. Rae-Venter and a team of volunteers used genetic genealogy to identify Lisa’s birth family and try to find out where she came from and what had happened to her mother.

In 2016, Rae-Venter identified Lisa as Dawn Beaudin of New Hampshire. Lisa and her mother, Denise Beaudin, disappeared around Thanksgiving of 1981 with her boyfriend, Terry Rasmussen. Family members identified her boyfriend at the time as ‘Bob Evans’, which was the name that Rasmussen was using when he was living in New Hampshire.

Rae-Venter wanted to test the remains of the Bear Brook victims because she suspected that the woman in the barrel was Denise Beaudin, Lisa’s mother. Up until that time, it had not been possible to obtain a DNA profile from the Bear Brook victims. In 2016, Rae-Venter contacted Dr. Ed Green, a researcher in paleo-genomics, of the University of California at Santa-Cruz as he had developed a new technique to extract autosomal DNA from rootless hair.

This new technique was successful in obtaining DNA profiles of the Bear Brook victims, and the investigation was finally able to progress. They discovered that the woman was not Denise Beaudin, but the middle girl was Rasmussen’s biological daughter. She was not related to the other two little girls, who were found to be the daughters of the adult woman.

Rae-Venter then used FGG to identify the woman found at Bear Brook as Marlyse Elizabeth Honeychurch (b. 1954). The other body found in the barrel with her is her eldest daughter, Marie Vaughan (b. 1971). The infant girl found in the second barrel is Honeychurch’s youngest daughter, Sarah McWaters (b. 1977).

Marlyse Honeychurch was last seen on Thanksgiving Day in 1978, when she got into an argument with her family, and left with Terry Rasmussen, who was her boyfriend at the time. She was not seen alive again. Honeychurch and the three girls were likely killed sometime between 1978 and 1981, before Denise Beaudin and her daughter Lisa Jensen went missing in similar circumstances.

Jane Doe Rasmussen, the toddler found in the second barrel, is the biological daughter of Terry Rasmussen. The FGG investigation into her identity continues, as her mother is currently unknown. She has a mixed ancestry, with some African American, Native American, and possibly Asian heritage. Rae-Venter is constructing her family tree and believes the girl’s mother may be from near Pearl River County, Mississippi, and possibly descended from Thomas ‘Deadhorse’ Mitchell (b. 1836) or William Livings (b. 1826).

Rasmussen died of lung cancer and emphysema at the High Desert Prison in Susanville, California in 2010. He had been convicted under yet another false name, ‘Larry Vanner’, for the 2002 murder of his common-law spouse, chemist Eunsoon Jun. He has been nicknamed the ‘Chameleon Killer’ for the way in which he is able to move, change his identity, and begin a new life with a new family. When DNA testing showed that he was not the biological father of Lisa Jensen, he denied knowing or remembering the little girl at all.

In 2018, journalist Jason Moon and New Hampshire Public Radio produced a podcast called “Bear Brook,” that tells this story very thoroughly. It can be found at https://www.bearbrookpodcast.com/.

Duckler, Ray. “Officials Identify 3 of 4 Victims Discovered in Barrels Near Bear Brook State Park.” Concord Monitor, June 6, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.concordmonitor.com/After-more-than-three-decades-Bear-Brook-victims-named-26083251.

Effron, Lauren, Boaz Halaban, and Marc Dorian. “How a Jane Doe Child Case Uncovered a Serial Killer, Identified Victims and Changed the Use of DNA Forensics.” ABC News, March 19, 2020. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/jane-doe-child-case-uncovered-serial-killer-identified/story?id=69648434.

Halaban, Boaz, Marc Dorian, and Enjoli Francis. “Timeline of Serial Killer Terry Rasmussen’s Terror in New Hampshire, California.” ABC News, March 18, 2020. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/timeline-serial-killer-terry-rasmussens-terror-hampshire-california/story?id=69505755.

Help ID Me. “Bear Brook Case Update.” Facebook (Post), January 21, 2021. Accessed January 21, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/698376120190298/posts/4130579286969947/?d=n.

Liptak, Andrew. “How a Podcast Helped Solve a Grisly Cold Case.” The Verge, June 9, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/9/18656929/bear-book-podcast-murders-dna-databases-marlyse-elizabeth-honeychurch-marie-vaugh-sarah-mcwaters.

Moon, Jason. “Three Bear Brook Murder Victims Identified; Citizen Sleuth, Genetic Genealogy Provide Key Clues.” New Hampshire Public Radio, June 5, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.nhpr.org/post/three-bear-brook-murder-victims-identified-citizen-sleuth-genetic-genealogy-provide-key-clues?utm_medium=social&utm_term=nprnews&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=npr&fbclid=IwAR0d-ZPVnecFP90-teWfZznBM5TlYL9drWk6lQB5QMEIKuL9scEnGrOlorc#stream/0.

Murphy, Shelley. “‘Missing Half Sister’: How a Search for a Relative Helped Identify N.H.’s Bear Brook Victims.” Boston Globe, June 6, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/06/06/missing-half-sister-how-search-for-relative-helped-identify-bear-brook-victims/xiMWdamAZqaWRaCDJWJqxJ/story.html.

Yang, Allie, and Boaz Halaban. “Serial Killer Terry Rasmussen’s Victims, Known and Unknown.” ABC News, March 17, 2020. Accessed December 26, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/US/terry-rasmussens-victims-unknown/story?id=69585534.


First Name Terry
Last Name Rasmussen
Other Names
Victims 5 (Details)
IGG Started 2017-00-00
Case Cleared 2017-06-30
IGG Org Barbara Rae-Venter


Case ID Name Age Case Opened Location Investigating Org Most Serious Charge Disposition Court
1216 Marlyse Honeychurch 26–27 1985-11-10 Allenstown, NH Allenstown PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a
1218 Marie Vaughan 8–10 1985-11-10 Allenstown, NH Allenstown PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a
1220 n/a Confidential (Dawn Beaudin/Lisa Jensen) 5 1986-05-31 San Bernardino, CA San Bernardino CSO All sexual offenses, including rape, sexual assault, and child molestation Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a
1212 Jane Doe Rasmussen 2–4 2000-05-09 Allenstown, NH Allenstown PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a
1214 Sarah McWaters 1–2 2000-05-09 Allenstown, NH Allenstown PD Second degree murder Case was cleared by exception due to death of perpetrator n/a

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Case data and narrative licensed under CC BY 4.0: Dowdeswell, Tracey (2023), “Forensic Genetic Genealogy Project v. 2022”, Mendeley Data, V1, doi: 10.17632/jcycgvhm96.1. All other content, including photos, have been added.