TACOMA, Wash. -- Friends of Jennifer Bastian, the 13-year-old girl raped and murdered more than 30 years ago in Tacoma, are reacting to police saying the suspect charged in the case was on their radar for nearly the entire time.
“For a lot of us, our childhood ended that day,” said Ana Perera.
That day is August 28, 1986. That’s when police found the body of 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian. She had been raped and murdered.
Perera went to school with Jennifer Bastian.
Perera says when police announced they found the body of her friend about three weeks after she went missing, her life and the lives of many of her classmates changed forever.
“I don’t know if Tacoma ever healed,” said Perera.
For more than 30 years, people like Perera wondered when police would find the person who killed Jenny.
In court documents Q13 News obtained, it shows police had their eye on the suspect, 60-year-old Robert Dwane Washburn, almost immediately after the crime.
Court documents say Washburn became a suspect because he called police dispatch to give a tip about the murder of Michella Welch, a 12-year-old killed in Tacoma five months before Jenny died. (Police said Washburn's DNA did not match the evidence found in Welch's slaying.)
Documents say in 2013, police found DNA on Jenny's clothes. Law enforcement was able to connect the DNA to Washburn, court documents say, with a 1 in 57 trillion probability that it could match an unrelated person in the U.S.
Q13 News showed the findings to Jenny's friend.
“I wish they would have DNA evidence 30 years ago,” Perera said.
Perera added that she never stopped believing police would make an arrest. She hopes Jenny's family and her community can finally find peace and closure.
Washburn was living in Illinois. He is charged with first-degree murder.
Tacoma Police are in the process of extraditing him back to Washington. Police will hold a press conference Monday to give more information on the case.