DNA Leads To Arrest In 28-Year Old Whatcom County Cold Murder Case
Arrest made in 1989 abduction and murder of Mandy Stavik
December 14, 2017
(WHATCOM COUNTY, WA.) -- Once again the long, patient arm of the law has reached out, after untold numbers of dedicated investigators hours over the years, to make an arrest in a murder case so old that many people in Whatcom County may have thought would never be solved.
Whatcom County cold-case murder victim Amanda (Mandy) Stavik, as she looked around the time of her death. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Photo of suspect Timothy F. Bass, 50, broadcast by KCPQ-TV news in Seattle. Photo credit: KCPQ-TV. CLICK TO ENLARGE
And once again, decades old DNA paved the way for an arrest.
On Wednesday, the Whatcom County Sheriff's office announced the arrest of a man they believe was the perpetrator in the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of then 18-year old Amanda (Mandy) Stavik. The man lived near the slain woman.
The sheriff's office outlined the developments in that case this way:
On November 24th, 1989 at about 1:50 p.m.(the day after Thanksgiving) 18-year old Amanda Stavik left her home on Strand Road to go jogging with the family dog. The dog returned home several hours later, but Mandy did not.
After an extensive search, her body was found in the South Fork of the Nooksack River. Year after year went by without an arrest but, "The investigation into the kidnapping, rape and murder of Mandy Stavik has remained a top priority for the Sheriff’s Office," said sheriff Bill Elfo in a statement issued Wednesday. "Over the course of the last 28+ years, hundreds of leads emerged and were systematically investigated. Over the past decades, the community was repeatedly asked for assistance in solving the case. Information was received, pertaining to hundreds of potential suspects and leads that were followed up locally, in other states and foreign countries including Asia. During the course of the investigation, deputies consulted closely with forensic experts and renowned homicide investigators," added Elfo.
A suspect arrested
Among the potential suspects that emerged in recent years was a man named Timothy F. Bass, now 50 years old of Everson, Washington, a small town of about 2500 people in the county located on the banks of the Nooksack River.
At the time of Mandy's murder Bass lived on Strand Road not far from Mandy’s residence. Deputies forwarded DNA samples from Mr. Bass to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory which reported, after testing, that Bass's DNA matched DNA recovered from Mandy’s body in 1989.
The Laboratory determined that the match probability was 1 in 11 quadrillion.
Bass was arrested by Sheriff’s Office Detectives on Tuesday of this week on suspicion of the First Degree Murder, First Degree Kidnapping and First Degree Rape of Mandy Stavik and remains in the Whatcom County jail.
Sheriff Elfo asks that anyone in the community who may have information regarding Timothy Bass that may be helpful to his agency's investigation contact detectives at the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office at (360)778-6600.
A call center was activated immediately after a news briefing on Wednesday to discuss the case with reporters. Calls will be taken in person and detectives will be standing by to evaluate information that is received. The number for the call center is (360) 788-5303.
Mandy was first year college student when she vanished
Sheriff Elfo said at the time of her murder, "Mandy was a bright young first-year student at Central Washington University and well known in the east Whatcom County community. She had graduated from Mount Baker High School earlier in the year. She would have celebrated her 46th birthday this year. Her brutal murder rocked the community and she is still well remembered by many. We hope that this arrest will help bring closure to Mandy’s family and the community."
He added that the matter remains an active criminal investigation and noted that members of the Sheriff’s Office "have poured their hearts and souls into this case over the past three decades."
He also thanked the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory for the lab's "invaluable assistance over the years." The use of DNA in forensic science was relatively new in 1989. Elfo said the collection and safe storage over the years of the DNA samples that were captured 28 long years ago made solving this murder case possible.