The cold case of Jennifer Marie Bastian

Jennifer Marie Bastian

Jennifer Bastian (L) and Michella Welch (R)

The cold case of Jennifer Marie Bastian (April 15, 1973 – August 4, 1986) got a boost in 2013 when Tacoma Police (WA) revealed more information to the public. Despite renewed media attention and various tips, the case is still unsolved.

Jennifer was 13 years old when she went missing. According to the papers, Jennifer wanted to ride her bike 30 blocks to the park and then go back home. She was training for a YMCA bicycle tour of Lopez Island. When Jennifer did not return home later that evening, her family called the police.

Jennifer’s body was found 28 days later by a group of joggers near the Five Mile Drive. She had been raped and strangled. Police found DNA near her body and submitted about 30 cheek swabs of potential suspects to the lab for comparison.

Jennifer’s case is often linked to the Michella Welch murder. Michella’s remains had been found four months earlier in the ravine of another Tacoma park. Michella was 12 years old when she disappeared in March 1986. She too had been on a bike and on her way home to care for her sisters. Police found her body the same night.

The cases of Jennifer and Michella share characteristics:

  1. both girls were sexually assaulted
  2. their bodies were left in similar positions
  3. each girl had her clothes disturbed in a similar way
  4. both were blond and bright-eyed
  5. neither case has been solved despite DNA. Police do believe that the girls were assaulted and murdered by the same man. However, I have not been able to find in any newspaper article that the DNA found on Welch and Bastian is indeed identical. If you know a link where I can find that, please let me know.

Suspect sketch In 2013, Detectives with the Tacoma Police Department’s cold case unit released what they believe is the killer’s profile. It led to more than 60 new tips in the case. The link to the article is below.

For convenience, I took screen shots of the information. Then I went online to check in forums, blogs, and other websites what other links there were related to this profile. I found some details in different but similar descriptions but also details I cannot retrace.

offender profile screen shot

I joined the information from the police profile with what I found in the public domain. If you click on the picture on the left it should enlarge.

Underlined is the information that I cannot trace back to official statements from the authorities with my note behind it:

Killer profile in the cold cases of Michella Welch and Jenny Bastian:

  • He may have lived in the Tacoma’s North End area in 1986 or he had family there.
  • He was familiar with the North End parks, trails, and wooded areas.
  • He might have been semi-transient in 1986, staying outdoors, causing a disheveled appearance. My Note: of course this is possible but not a given.
  • His mode of transportation was most likely on foot, a bike, or the bus.
  • He routinely carried a knife.
  • He may have mental health issues and could have been jailed or institutionalized since 1986.
  • He might have threatened his family and might have become estranged from them [my note: this would explain his semi-transient stage].
  • He may not have had a stable employment and might have turned to petty thefts and foraging. My Note: again possible but not necessarily so.
  • He may have had an intestinal parasite.
  • Had a disease called strongyloides stercoralis which could cause abdominal pain, heartburn, and episodes of diarrhea and constipation. My Note: there are several intestinal parasites and strongyloides stercoralis is just one of them. Here you can find more on intestinal parasites  The ones most prevalent in the USA are Enterobius vermicularis, Giardia lamblia, Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, and Entamoeba histolytica. I have not found anywhere that the authorities confirmed that the DNA sample showed signs of strongyloides stercoralis.

If you have any information that can help police please contact Crime Stoppers.

Thank you for remembering Jennifer and Michella with us.


The News Tribune 


Seattle PI

Komo News

Q13 Fox



  1. […] have arrested the man who might be responsible for the murder of Jennifer Marie Bastian in 1986. His name is Robert D. Washburn (60) of Eureka, Illinois. Police declined to talk about the […]

  2. […] we know now, Jennifer Bastian and Michella Welch were not murdered by the same […]

  3. […] details in the Bastian-Welch murders have been disclosed in an renewed attempt to solve these cold […]