The brutal murders of 12-year-old Michella Welch and 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian in Tacoma, Washington, back in 1986 were first believed to be committed by the same individual. As “Dateline: Evil Was Watching” describes, they did not occur just five months after each other; however, they also shared many atrocious features that included indications of sexual violence. However, this was not the case. Although Gary Hartman was responsible for the first, Robert Washburn was behind Jennifer’s tragic loss. So we’ll find out more about Robert Washburn, will we?
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Who is Robert Washburn?
He was born in the year 1958. Robert Dwane Washburn was a 28-year-old resident of Pierce County, living merely two miles from Point Defiance Park when the incident took place on August 4, 1986. The reports indicate that the man, who was then a mechanic, was added to police’s suspect lists after some time because he’d admitted to authorities that they often ran near the crime scene or in the woods; however, he was not considered a hot lead.
This could be due to his absence of a significant criminal record. He was taken into custody but not charged with vehicle prowling or trespassing or perhaps because he moved into Skagit County in the late 1990s.
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Robert’s decision to move to a new area (sometime following his divorce) seems to have nothing to do with have anything to do with Jennifer’s situation in particular, as he eventually moved into Eureka, Illinois, as well. In addition, it should be noted that he was said to have quit his job after his last shift in the mid-2000s to take over the care of his disabled daughter, who seemed to be genuinely committed.
But, all changed in March 2017 when the FBI came to his home to inquire about the cold case after receiving new DNA evidence nearly three decades later, and he was willing to give the FBI a DNA sample.
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Where Is Robert Washburn Now?
The DNA tests revealed an undisputed match in May 2018 that linked Robert Washburn to Jennifer Bastian’s 1986 rape and homicide. This meant that he was detained and charged with the same crime. Then, he was deported to Washington, the state of Washington, where the Pierce County judge officially indicted him in court before setting his bail at $5 million. In January 2019, however, Robert pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. In exchange, he has been sentenced to 26 1/2 years of prison. The only condition was that he must confess to Jennifer.
Robert did not speak to the courtroom anything other than “yes” and “no” as he sat down. However, Robert did write a declaration that was read out loud by the judge. In addition to claiming that he was going to plead guilty right from the beginning to avoid anyone affected by the agony during a hearing, no matter the juror or bench, he also wrote that he was sorry for his actions and the effect that they’ve had.
“I choked her until she passed away,” Robert had penned in the manner the two of them had agreed on. “I am so regretful for the passing of Jennifer.” So today, at age 64, Robert is imprisoned in the minimal-medium security Airway Heights Corrections Facility, where he’s scheduled to stay throughout his life.