Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian

Michella Welch and Jenni Bastian Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?  

  To say that the events in Tacoma were extremely fluid back in the mid-1980s would be overstating the situation, but unfortunately, things changed after the tragedy that claimed the lives of two teenage girls in the span of a few months.

As we’ll see in the documentary ‘Dateline: Evil Was Watching,’ Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian were murdered five years apart and in what could be described as one of the most horrible ways possible.

Now, if you’re interested in learning more about what happened, information, including the details of their horrific murders, lengthy investigations, and the (shockingly) diverse perpetrators, We’ve got you covered.

Also Read: Where is Robert Washburn Now?

What Happened to Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian | How Did Jennifer Bastian and Michella Welch Die?

It was around 10 a.m. on the 26th of March 1986 when a cheerful Michella Welch decided to take her two sisters into Puget Park, completely unaware that it would result in a sigh of despair. The 12-year-old was returned home for lunch for the group at 11. She set her food items on tables and tied her bike to the sisters’ before heading off to look for them, only to be heard from. Her siblings later contacted the babysitter, and they immediately contacted their parents and the authorities, and the police. Still, Michella’s remains were discovered at around 11:15 that night.

Michella was found in the bottom of a ditch near a makeshift fire pit, which was just a quarter-mile from the playground. She had been sexually assaulted; however, her cause of death was blunt head trauma and a severe cut to her neck. Then, about five months after her death, on the 4th of August in 1986, 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian similarly vanished while cycling through Point Defiance Park, just a few miles away. Jennifer Bastian was last seen alive around 6 p.m.

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But despite a lot of effort, her remains were found in a forest area near Five Mile Drive just three weeks later. She’d had been sexually assaulted before being murdered by strangulation.

Who killed Michella Welch & Jennifer Bastian?

Due to the close relationship and similarities between the two horrifying yet clearly defined homicides, authorities arrived at the (reasonable) assumption that there was a single person responsible. There was a teenage witness in Michelle’s case who claimed to have seen an unknown man under Proctor Bridge who was eyeing the young girls during that dark day.

However, he was not recognized at that time. DNA was even found on the body of her murder victim, but no concrete evidence ever was discovered because of the technological advances available at the time. Jennifer’s clothing provided similar evidence, but only after testing years after.

But, the police were determined to find justice for these two girls above all else, and they left when DNA tests confirmed their suspicions of there being a link in 2013. They’d collected every piece of evidence from the crime scene and then compared them to each other (as well as against the nation’s database); however, there was no evidence of a connection. It became clear that the two perpetrators were different but that neither had any prior criminal record, which prompted authorities to employ the latest technology.

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From forensic genealogy to deep DNA analysis to family genetic methods, they utilized every tool available until they came on Gary Hartman and Robert Dwane Washburn as suspects. When the FBI approached them in connection with Jennifer’s murder in March of 2017, Gary Hartman voluntarily provided a DNA sample that matched in May 2018. In contrast, the investigators took a sneaky sample of Gary’s DNA from a brown napkin following a careful investigation (of Gary as well as his son) as well, and it also was a perfect match in June of 2018.

Thus, after nearly three years and more than three decades, the very first (and last) arrests in Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian’s case were completed. After a judge had convicted Gary of murdering Michella in the first degree after a bench trial in the early 2022s, Robert pleaded guilty to Jennifer’s murder in January 2019. Both apologized for their actions in the court process; however, the reality of the issue is that no action or words they make in the present will make a difference to their pasts or help make it better.

Chris Evan was born in Quebec and raised in Montreal, except for the time when he moved back to Quebec and attended high school there. He studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. He began writing after obsessing over books.

One thought on “Michella Welch and Jenni Bastian Murders: How Did They Die? Who Killed Them?  

  1. I listened to the documentary ‘Dateline: Evil Was Watching’. I would really like to know (1) Did these two men, Hartman and Washburn, just on impulse decide to murder their victims? (2) How likely is it that a person, on impulse, only commits a single sexual crime in his lifetime? (3) Was either man interviewed by a forensic psychiatrist or other criminal behaviorist? (4) Did either or both of these men have traumatic childhoods and suffer abuse as is common for many sexual predators. (5) Why did the documentarians not raise these questions? (6) Are we to conclude that the murders were just random acts? (7) Is there another conclusion?

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