In an effort to rebuild readership, Sports Illustrated has turned to true crime stories that involve athletes, a fertile ground for its reporters.
Writer Jon Wertheim recently revisited the case of Randall Woodfield, a star receiver on the Portland State Vikings football team in the early 1970s who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers but ended up spending his post-collegiate life in prison for a series of rapes and murders in Oregon and California.
Many of the crimes Woodfield committed took place near the west coast's busiest freeway, which led to his being called "the I-5 Killer," a name the late Seattle true crime writer Ann Rule used to title a 1984 book about Woodfield.
Nobody ever determined how many crimes Woodfield committed.
"Based on DNA evidence and advancing crime lab techniques, the I-5 Killer's body count has climbed through the years. Cold case detectives have conservatively put that number at a dozen, though a few journalists and armchair detectives believe he's responsible for as many as 44 deaths," Wertheim writes. "And that doesn't include a string of more than 100 other crimes, mostly robberies and rapes, that bear his hallmarks."
As recently as 2012, the Portland Police Bureau's cold case squad used DNA evidence to link him to five victims.
Woodfield, now 65, remains imprisoned at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.