Portrait of Nguyet Thu "Wiki" Phung

The Disappearance of Nguyet Thu “Wiki” Phung

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EARLY LIFE:

Nguyet Thu “Wiki” Phung was born on September 18, 1971 in Vietnam. Around 1975, she and her family immigrated to the United States, as her parents wanted to escape the country’s communist takeover. They, Nguyet and her five siblings settled in Snohomish County, Washington.

According to those who knew her, Nguyet rarely went by her first name and would, instead, present herself as “Thu”, her middle name, even in her school yearbooks.

DISAPPEARANCE:

Nguyet was last seen leaving her parents’ apartment in Lynnwood, Washington on May 9, 1991. She’d planned to study at Shoreline Community College, before going to her clerical job at the Federal Building in Seattle, Washington, as was her regular routine.

According to one missing persons poster about her case, she was last seen at the library on the University of Washington campus. It should be noted, however, that this is the only source to state this information, with official police reports and other posters simply saying she was last seen that day, without a definitive location.

Nguyet was never heard from again. It was typical for her to catch the bus while in downtown Seattle and would use it to get home after her shifts. She was also good at keeping in close contact with her family and would call home if she were running late for any reason. She did not do this on May 9, 1991.

SEARCH:

Details regarding the official police investigation into Nguyet’s disappearance are scarce. All that’s publicly known is that her disappearance has since been filed as a cold case, and that investigators believe her to have been the victim of a serial killer – although, they’ve not said whom they believe is responsible.

At the time of Nguyet’s disappearance, the primary serial killer operating in Washington state was Gary Ridgway – better known as the Green River Killer. In the 1980s and ’90s, Ridgway, the second-most prolific serial killer in the history of the United States, is believed to have killed between 71 and 90 individuals, though he was only convicted of 49 murders.

The majority of Ridgway’s victims were prostitutes or women who were considered vulnerable, such as underage runaways. After strangling them to death, he would dump their bodies in forested areas across King County, Washington and return to have sexual intercourse with them. He was arrested in November 2001, after DNA profiling linked him to the murders of four women, and as a result of a plea bargain, in which he shared the locations of other still-missing women, was spared the death penalty and given a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Despite Nguyet disappearing while Ridgway was active, many believe he is not responsible for her disappearance, as she didn’t match the victim pool, their circumstances or his known hunting grounds.

Age progression photo of Nguyet Thu "Wiki" Phung
Age Progression photo of Nguyet Thu “Wiki” Phung at 50 years old. (Image Credit: NCMEC)

Other serial killers who were active in Washington state during this time include Robert Lee Yates, a former corrections officer and US Army service member who operated in the Spokane area. He was arrested in April 2000, and is believed to have killed at least 16 women – primarily sex workers – between 1975 and ’98.

There was also Joseph Kondro, better known as the Longview Serial Killer, who was convicted in the deaths of two children, but is believed to have killed several between 1985 and ’96. He was arrested in 1997 and remained incarcerated at Washington State Penitentiary until his death from liver disease in May 2012.

AFTERMATH:

Nguyet’s father has since passed away. According to a user on Websleuths who claims to be close to the family, the cause was a broken heart, the result of not knowing what happened to his daughter.

CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Nguyet Thu “Wiki” Phung went missing from Lynnwood, Snohomish County, Washington on May 9, 1991. She was 19 years old. While a description of the clothing she was wearing that day is unavailable, it’s likely she was wearing a gold ring on her right hand. As well, her ears are pierced.

At the time of her disappearance, she stood at 5’2″ and weighed between 110 and 115 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes, and a mole on the left side of her upper lip.

Nguyet may use a number of variations of her name: Phung Thu Nguyet, Thu Nguyet Phung, Thu Phung Nguyet, Phung Nguyet Thu and/or Nguyet Phung Thu.

Currently, her case is classified as Endangered Missing. If alive, she would be 50 years old.

Those with information regarding the whereabouts of Nguyet Thu “Wiki” Phung or what happened to her are asked to contact the Lynnwood Police Department at either 425-670-5600 or 425-407-3999. Tips can also be called into the Missing Persons Unit of the Washington State Patrol at 1-800-543-5678.

Image Credit: NamUs

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