James Allen Kinney
Keri Lynn Sherlock, 20, of Braintree Mass., was eager to see the
world. She was always friendly and trusting of people. Those qualities
concern her mother as Sherlock boarded a bus to travel across the
country to Bellingham. She let her daughter go, but made Sherlock
promise to call every day. Regrettably, her mother would later learn the
validity of her concerns as Sherlock became the latest victim of another
Sherlock came to Bellingham in 1998 to visit her uncle, to look at
Western as a potential school and to see the Pacific Ocean for the first
time. As a lover of the outdoors, she went for a hike in the area on Oct
3. This was the last time her uncle, and everyone else, would see her
alive. Her body was later found about an hour outside of Bellingham on
the Mount Baker Highway. She was raped and beaten to death.
A backpack found near her body led police to James Allen Kinney, a
Bellingham resident and Vietnam War veteran with a history of mental
illness. A warrant was released for his arrest, but Kinney already fled
the area. Kinney also had warrants in Michigan and Ohio for murdering
two other women.
Kinney managed to avoid capture for three years. It wasn''t until a
tip was called into "America''s Most Wanted" from a viewer in North
Carolina who recognized Kinney, that he was arrested and admitted to
Sherlock''s murder. Kinney was sentenced to life in jail without parole.
He is serving his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary.
Two Faces of a
Killer: Kinney Details Life
By Mia Taylor -
The Patriot Ledger
January 16, 2002
BELLINGHAM, Wash. – He shifts seamlessly between
personas with the slightest change in the direction of a conversation.
There’s the James Allen Kinney who stares down
through dust-covered eyeglasses at his lap, rubbing his knees nervously
and speaking in almost childlike tones about bad memories and painful
And then there’s the James Allen Kinney who looks
right at you, with a smirk, talking proudly about the clever tactics he
used to stay one step ahead of the law for more than two years, the
Kinney filled with bravado, willing to take risks even as his mug shot
appeared on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
“I walked into a police station in Pennsylvania, to
get directions to Allentown, and the officer said, You look familiar,’”
Kinney boasts. “I said I’m just your average Joe,’ and walked back out.”
On Monday, in a courtroom in the northwest corner of
Washington state, the 52-year-old drifter was sent to prison for life
for the rape and murder of Braintree resident Keri Sherlock in 1998. She
Kinney picked up Sherlock while she was hitchhiking
near Bellingham. A nature lover who enjoyed travel, Sherlock was in
Washington fulfilling her dream of seeing the Pacific Ocean.
Monday’s sentencing closed a case that devastated a
Braintree family and inspired a nationwide manhunt.
A tip generated by the television show “America’s
Most Wanted” ultimately led to Kinney’s capture.
Kinney spoke with reporters for an hour Monday in an
11-by-15-foot holding cell while awaiting transfer to a state prison.
Wearing white rubber sandals and yellow prison fatigues, he sat
unshackled in the small room with cinder block walls and a gray concrete
The conversation wandered, disjointedly, through
childhood, traveling across the country, and what he called the two
James Allen Kinneys: “The monster who killed Keri Sherlock” and the
Kinney’s lawyer said Kinney’s account of his life and
actions are not entirely true, but investigators working on the case
were able to verify parts of it.
He was born Earle Norman Suskey in Tulsa, Okla. on
Sept. 5, 1949, the second child of a troubled marriage.
His father was an alcoholic who physically abused
Kinney and would abandon the family for days, weeks or months at a time,
according to court records.
By the time he was 2, alcohol, infidelity and
violence had taken such a toll on his parents that Kinney and his
brother were put up for adoption, becoming wards of the state.
A young couple, Margaret and Clifford Kinney, took in
the two children, initially on a foster-care basis, and adopted them
after just a few months.
The family moved to Lansing, Mich., so the boys could
grow up on a farm. The Kinneys joined the local Methodist church, where
the family attended weekly Sunday services. They lived a modest life,
spending much of their time on the farm or fishing.
“I had my own cows,” Kinney says with a sudden,
surprising laugh and lingering smile. “I got up at 4 a.m. to feed the
cows and got an animal husbandry badge, along with a Future Farmers of
Clifford Kinney worked a lot and his wife ran a
strict home in his absence. Her approach to child raising was detailed
in dozens of interviews in the court file, among them conversations with
Kinney’s brother Robert, Michigan neighbors and his Boy Scout troop
There were no hugs or physical affection. But there
was a great deal of yelling and punishment in the home. Court records
show that Kinney was horse-whipped, leaving scars on his right cheek.
When he talks about the bad times, Kinney seems to
recede into a shell, looking at his lap or staring with vacant eyes.
“It was fun there for awhile,” he says. “But then it
wasn’t fun anymore. It started getting bad for us.” Eventually, Kinney
joined the Army and went to Vietnam.
Clifford Kinney began to notice signs of “mental
problems” when Kinney returned from the service in the early 1970s.
Kinney has been in hospitals for extended psychiatric
treatment at least 26 times since 1980. He was diagnosed as a paranoid
schizophrenic with bipolar disorder.
Kinney’s public defender, John Komorowski, said his
client is now taking several mood-stabilizing medications, including
As Kinney talked, Komorowski leaned against a nearby
wall. Often, Kinney appeared overwhelmed or confused, turning to look at
Komorowski for assistance. He frequently expressed feeling “jittery,”
and again looked to his lawyer for help.
But Kinney also revealed details of a thought process
sharp enough to figure out how to avoid capture after Sherlock’s murder.
He went to a library and checked out a book detailing
how the FBI tracks suspects. Then, Kinney said, he used what he learned
reading the book to stay out of jail. He also watched television
broadcasts about the case.
“I let John Walsh pave the way,” he says, of the
“America’s Most Wanted” host. “Wherever they were looking, I wasn’t
Kinney said he spent time in California, Vermont and
even Massachusetts. He claimed to have thought about turning himself in,
not to police, but to Sherlock’s family.
“I went up to Massachusetts looking for her parents,
but couldn’t find her house,” Kinney said, explaining he looked in phone
books but didn’t know what town the Sherlocks lived in.
When reporters appeared incredulous about the claim,
he added, “If you were her mother and this guy comes in and says, I’m
here to turn myself in,’ you might have been frightened, but you might
have felt like, My prayers are answered.’”
Komorowski, who had investigators independently
verify the facts of Kinney’s life, doubts some of the things Kinney said
during the interview. He said Kinney lied about being the leader of a
Boy Scout troop.
Did he get a book about the FBI? Maybe, Komorowski
He was probably not in all the places he claimed to
have visited, Komorowski said.
The lawyer stressed that Kinney’s mental illness is
no excuse for murder. He said Kinney deserves to die in prison.
But his client does not deserve all the blame.
“Society fails the mentally ill,” he said. “If he had
been on the proper medication, I don’t think this would ever have
As for whether the apologies he has offered time and
again for his violent actions are sincere, only Kinney himself knows.
He insists they are.
“I can’t undo what I’ve done. I’ve had rages for
years and years,” Kinney said as the interview concluded. “I’m asking
Keri to forgive me for what I did to her. If I have to die the same way
she did, so be it.”
James Allen Kinney
October 26, 2000
Police in Delray Beach, Florida, are
searching for suspected serial killer James Allen Kinney who is believed
to have been living in Delray Beach since May.
Kinney, 51, is suspect killer women in Washington, Michigan e Iowa. "He lives somewhere between Boynton Beach and north Broward
county," said Detective Robert Stevens at a news conference.
Vietnam veteran has stayed at Veteran's Administration Hospitals and
homeless shelters throughout the U.S., and most recently he befriended
an elderly Delray man confined to a wheelchair, who he met at a local VA
hospital. Investigators said he typically hangs out at American Legion
halls or Veterans of Foreign Wars halls.
"We've exhausted all leads and
haven't been able to identify where he is," Stevens said. "He
hasn't been seen (by police) in two years. The trail is cold, but
hopefully this will generate leads."
Two years ago, Washington
police said Kinney was responsible for the disappearance and murder of
20-year-old Keri Lynn Sherlock. Her body was found on a dirt road in the
woods and was identified through dental records. A 1997 murder of a
Grand Rapids, Michigan, woman and a 1998 murder of a Des Moines, Iowa,
woman also point to Kinney, police said. All three victims were young,
The suspect has previously worked in South Florida on
temporary day labor jobs, Stevens said. In April, Kinney was spotted at
the Philadelphia International Airport after he was profiled on the TV
show "America's Most Wanted."
The suspect, who uses the alias Jerome
Romano Porrovecchio, is known to be friendly and a pathological liar. He
befriends elderly people and becomes their caretakers to make money. He
has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder, a result of his service in Vietnam. "If you have a
suspect involved in three murders and hasn't been charged with one,
obviously it's important ... so we can bring him to justice and he
doesn't do it again," Stevens said. The Whatcom County Sheriff's
Office in Washington is offering $10,000 for information that leads to
James Allen Kinney
January 21, 1999
in Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho and Oregon all say they have
unsolved homicides of young women occuring when fugitive killer James
Allen Kinney was living in their areas. Kinney, 50, first came to the
attention of police in Washington following the 1998 murder of Keri
Lynne Sherlock, a 20-year-old Braintree, Massachussetts, woman who was
visiting relatives in Bellingham.
Now, the authorities of Michigan are
investigating a possible connection among Kinney and the murder without
resolving of 22-year-old Billie Jo Watson, happened in 1997.
Sherlock was raped and her
body mutilated in what authorities called a ritualistic sexual manner.
Detectives in Whatcom County found papers in a vehicle abandoned near
Sherlock's body that belonged to Kinney and listed the Grand Rapids
address where he had lived for nearly two years.
Billie Jo Watson was
last seen alive in Grand Rapids the night of Nov. 30, 1997. Four days
later, when her body was found, Kinney left Grand Rapids, buying a one-way
bus ticket for Iowa, leaving behind a business he had started with
another man and all his personal belongings.
The allegations against
Kinney were broadcast nationally in December on "America's Most
Wanted," including investigators' suspicions that he might be
linked to killings across the country. A Vietnam veteran, Kinney has
been travelling across the country since the 1980s, checking in and out
of veteran's facilities and living off his disability checks.
May 25, 1999
Still at large, James Allen
Kinney has become the focus of a nationwide manhunt for the suspected
Grand Rapids serial killer. He is wanted for the slaying and rape of a
20-year-old woman in Washington. He also is a suspect in the 1997
slaying in Grand Rapids of 22-year-old Billie Jo Watson, and is wanted
for questioning on several other killings.
Kinney, then 50, had been a
resident of the Creston Heights area until shortly after Watson's death.
A Vietnam veteran, Kinney is believed to have traveled the country since
the 1980s, checking in and out of veteran's facilities. He came to Grand
Rapids in 1996, checking into the veteran's clinic at Grand Rapids Home
for Veterans, 3000 Monroe Ave. NE, according to police. He remains on
the FBI's fugitive task force wanted list. Investigators also have said
Kinney's victims suffered mutilation of a ritualistic sexual nature.
UNLAWFUL FLIGHT TO AVOID PROSECUTION - MURDER
FBI Crime Alert
James Allen Kinney
James Allen Kinney has scars on his right
hand, his left calf and his right calf. In the past, he has worked as a
cook, a commercial fisherman, a truck driver, a hospital worker, and a
landscaper. Kinney is a transient who has stayed at Veteran's hospitals
and homeless shelters all over the country. He has been diagnosed as
being bipolar and as having post traumatic stress disorder. He is also
known to be very friendly and is allegedly a pathological liar.
James Allen Kinney is wanted for his alleged participation in the
brutal murder of Keri Lynne Sherlock in Richmond, Virginia. On October
2, 1998, Sherlock, a twenty-year-old woman who had recently moved to the
area from Massachusetts, left her residence and told her family she was
going hiking in a local park. By late in the afternoon of October 3,
1998, Sherlock had not returned home and was reported to be missing by
her family. On October 4, 1998, Sherlock's body was found in Maymont
James Allen Kinney and Keri Sherlock were seen together in numerous
places during this time period, including at a bank and a local sports
bar. On October 8, 1998, a warrant was issued in Richmond County
Superior Court in the state of Virginia, charging Kinney with Aggravated
Homicide. On November 18, 1998, an Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution
warrant was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia.