Suspect in 1986 cold case of Jennifer Bastian expected to make plea deal

TACOMA, Wash. — The man accused in the 1986 rape and murder of Tacoma teenager Jennifer Bastian will plead guilty to first-degree murder later this month.

The plea agreement was confirmed by the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

The 13-year-old Bastian’s body was found in Point Defiance Park in August 1986 after she disappeared while riding her bike in the park.

Robert Dwane Washburn, 61, was arrested at his home in Eureka, Illinois, in May 2018. Washburn had been on police radar since 1986 because he first contacted them about the murder of 12-year-old Michella Welch, and then later provided police with information that led them to Bastian's body.

He was considered a person of interest but didn't become a target of the investigation until after he was contacted and asked to give a DNA sample in 2017.

No details on the plea agreement were released. Washburn does not face the death penalty if convicted. His plea date is scheduled for Jan. 25.

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