August 14, 2018

Suspect in 1986 murder case arrested in Illinois

13 May 2018, 07:06 | Casey Mitchell

Suspect in 1986 murder case arrested in Illinois

Robert Washburn 60 has been arrested in the cold case murder of 13-year-old girl Jennifer Bastian in Tacoma Wash. in 1986

The case remained open all these years, and recently the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office developed probable cause to arrest Robert D. Washburn, 60, of Eureka, Illinois.

He agreed but only if she called him when she arrived back home. On the day she vanished, the young girl asked her father if she could ride her Schwinn bicycle through the park, in anticipation of an upcoming bike tour in San Juan Islands she planned to attend.

Troopers worked with detectives to identify and arrest 60-year-old Robert Washburn, who is believed to be connected to the death of Jennifer Bastian in 1986.

Jennifer Bastian's seventh grade class yearbook
Jennifer Bastian's seventh grade class yearbook

Welch was abducted March 26, 1986, in Puget Park while looking after her two younger sisters.

In May 1986, Washburn called police to report seeing a man resembling Welch's killer jogging in Point Defiance Park. During that interview, he also reported smelling a "foul odor" on Five Mile Drive and said he was in the park when it was cordoned off during the search for Bastian, according to charging papers. After never returning home, officials were able to locate her body on August 28, in a wooded area near that radius. In the quiet Eureka neighborhood where Washburn had lived for 13 years people tell WMBD they had trouble sleeping last night and coming to terms that an alleged murderer lived among them for more then a decade.

Her body was hidden beneath brush, with her bike nearby, and she been strangled.

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Last week, DNA results came back linking Washburn to Bastian's death. Washburn's name was on the list, and he agreed to provide his DNA to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That indicates she made at least one lap around Five Mile Drive before she was kidnapped, records show.

Washburn was living in IL. He was held at Woodford County Jail and will be extradited to Tacoma, Washington, to be charged in the death of Jennifer Bastian.

At the time Jennifer disappeared, Washburn reportedly lived less than five miles away from Point Defiance Park. That's when local officials were called to help arrest him.

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The Illinois State Police say they arrested the murder suspect on Thursday, May 10 in Eureka, Illinois.

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