Police: Suspect detained in 1986 murder of Tacoma girl
TACOMA, Wash. -- Police have detained a suspect in the murder of Jennifer Bastian, a 13-year-old who disappeared in Aug. 4, 1986, after she left her Tacoma home on a bike ride.
Her body was found three weeks later.
Police said in a news release that detectives have developed probable cause to make an arrest. A suspect was found out of state and detained. Detectives will bring him back to Washington.
WHOI-TV reports that the man was arrested in Eureka, Illinois, east of Peoria. The East Peoria station said Robert D. Washburn, 60, of Eureka is in the Woodford (Illinois) County Jail on a murder warrant from Washington.
Police are expect to provide more information after he is returned to Pierce County.
"There’s relief. A lot of relief," said Kris Hanberg, a long-time friend of Bastian's family.
"Kinda shocking really, but also relief and we’re happy to hear the news," her husband Mike added.
The Hanbergs told KOMO News on Thursday that they never lost hope that police would eventually find the person who ended Bastian's life.
Bastian's disappearance and death impacted everyone in the neighborhood, the Hanbergs said.
"Changed our lives," Kris Hanberg told KOMO News. "Our kids were never allowed to play outside in front without a sitter, if we weren’t here. Or to go to the park like you could go and play. It changed the life of everybody in this neighborhood."
Jennifer Bastian left her home in the 2100 block of North Winnifred about 2:30 p.m. on August 4, 1986. She left a note saying she would be back home by 6:30 p.m.
She rode her 18-speed Schwinn bicycle to Point Defiance Park to train for a bike tour in the San Juan Islands.
Then she disappeared.
“It was my friend and she was just going for a bike ride, and her life was taken," recalled Stephanie Hatch, a childhood friend.
After a massive search of Point Defiance Park, where she had been seen, her body was found Aug. 28, 1986, in woods in the 5-mile-drive area of the park.
"I always hoped there’d be resolution, but I didn’t think there would be at this point," said childhood friend Jim Peterson, who was one of many people who helped search for Bastian after she went missing. "(Jenny) was very nice, very giving. I think everybody was her friend. She didn’t have enemies. She was everybody’s friend and was kind to everybody. She loved dogs, I remember."
Bastian's murder has weighed heavily on him for decades.
"I’m looking forward to hearing more information. Who this guy is. How they caught him," he said.
Tacoma police say those answers will come once the man they’ve arrested is brought to Pierce County to face charges. The department wouldn't say when that will happen.
The Hanbergs told KOMO News that the man's arrest brings back painful memories of a very difficult time.
They hope Bastian’s family can now find a little sense of peace.
"Won’t bring her back," Kris Hanberg said. "But there’s just something in your heart that feels better."
In 2016, police released a sketch of a suspect in her case based on new DNA technology.
Officials said Jennifer Bastian's killer was of Eastern European and northwest European ancestry. He likely had fair skin, green or blue eyes, blond or red hair, and some freckles.