Pottawatomie County District Attorney Richard Smothermon said Gouker has never said why he killed Walton.
Following Gouker's court appearance Thursday in Pottawatomie County District Court, authorities from Wisconsin spoke with reporters about the convicted murderer's possible connection to the unsolved killings of Tanna Togstad, 23, and Tim Mumbrue, 35, who were stabbed to death in March 1992.
Waupaca County Sheriff Brad Hardel, who was a deputy at the time of the killings, said Gouker is a person of interest in the case but would not describe him as a suspect.
He said on Thursday he was limited as to what he could say due to the ongoing investigation.
Hardel said Togstad was sexually assaulted during the slayings and that the killer left behind physical evidence.
He would not say during Thursday's news conference whether Gouker's DNA was a match to the physical evidence left at the crime scene.
In February, Gouker was charged with rape in Waupaca County after his DNA linked him to the sexual assault of a young woman who was abducted at knifepoint and led into the woods before she was attacked. The woman was raped Nov. 5, 1990, when Gouker was only 19.
Authorities expressed optimism that DNA will help solve the killings of Togstad and Mumbrue.
“We have some work to do, but we're really on the right track,” Hardel said. “This is huge, what's going on here.”
Hardel said he wasn't sure why Gouker was living in northwestern Wisconsin in the early 1990s.
“All we really know is that he and some family members had moved to Wisconsin to live for a couple of years,” he said. “Why, what the connection was, we really don't know at this point.”
Even though he never made it to his 20s, Kline said her son lived a full life.
“Ethan mattered ... the life of a young boy, not a man ... was robbed,” she said. “It was robbed from a multitude of people.”
Kline said her son had moved to Oklahoma to “better himself” and that he met a girl he intended to marry while living on his father's property near Prague. She described her son as easygoing and hardworking.
“A goofball, an absolute goofball,” Kline said about her son. “He enjoyed life.”
Kline said Walton was an avid reader and that he worked as a lifeguard before his death.
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