Guilty plea expected in 1986 Bastian murder

Jennifer Marie Bastian

Jennifer Marie Bastian

The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office reports that Robert Dwane Washburn’s attorney asked for an appointment to change his client’s plea.

“The expectation would be that Washburn changes his plea to guilty on January 25 at 1:30 pm.”

No details about a plea agreement are known but Washburn will not face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Washburn first plead not guilty to the first-degree murder of Jennifer Marie Bastian (13) in August 1986. Jennifer disappeared after riding her bike to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park (Washington).

In 2013, the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab created a suspect profile from DNA found on her bathing suit. Three years later, Washburn came up on a list of suspects. He agreed to give a DNA sample in 2017 and the WSP Crime Lab found a match.

Washburn was always on the authority’s radar. In 1986, he contacted police about the murder of Michella Welch (12) and he later told police where Bastian’s remains could be found.

Case information: The cold case of Jennifer Marie Bastian (April 15, 1973 – Aug 4, 1986) got a boost in 2013 when Tacoma Police (WA) revealed more information to the public. Jennifer’s case had always been linked to the Michella Welch unsolved murder.

Both girls were on a bike, both were sexually assaulted, their bodies were left in similar positions, each girl had her clothes disturbed in a similar way, and both were blond and bright-eyed. The cause of death however, differed. Michella Welch died from a cut to the neck. Jennifer Bastian died from strangulation.

In March 2016, Tacoma Police revealed two different men are responsible for the murders. Robert Washburn was arrested in May 2018. DNA from the crime scene matches Washburn and was part of the discovery between the prosecution and the defense. Trial is set to for Feb. 12, 2019.