Man arrested in Florida for 1993 Spanaway murder

TACOMA, Wash. — Quick Facts:

  • Victim Linda Robinson stabbed to death in 1993
  • DNA match from case evidence made in late 2013
  • Suspect James Edward Mitchell arrested in Florida Thursday
  • Mitchell was a schoolmate, neighbor of victim

A man has been arrested on murder charges in the 1993 stabbing death of a Spanaway woman.

On the night of Feb. 6, 1993, Linda Robinson was stabbed multiple times in her apartment on 162nd Street South in Spanaway.  At the time of the attack, Robinson was babysitting a 7-year-old girl and a 6-month-old baby, who were sleeping in another room during the stabbing.

Police said the children woke to the sound of a smoke detector alarm going off from a pot left on the stove by the victim.  Detectives said the 7-year-old girl saw a large amount of blood and found Robinson dead on the floor, then ran to a neighbor’s apartment for help.  The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case, but was unable to find the person who killed Robinson.

In May 2013, the girl who found Robinson, who in 2013 was 27 years old, and the victim’s father contacted the Cold Case Unit at the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and asked about the status of the investigation.

The case was reviewed by Detective Sergeant Tim Kobel, who from photos identified several unusual blood droplets he believed could have been left by the killer.  In June 2013, Kobel sent the bloodstained items to the Washington State Crime Lab for DNA testing.

In October 2013, the crime lab told Kobel that they had a DNA match for James Edward Mitchell, a childhood neighbor and schoolmate of the victim and Robinson family.  Police said Mitchell has multiple felony convictions and arrests for narcotics possession and distribution, vehicle theft, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, sexual assault and armed robbery with a knife and larceny.

He was found to be living in Florida.

The next month, Kobel sent additional evidence to crime lab for further DNA testing, including the victim’s jeans, a cut telephone cord and a child’s jacket.  In June 2014, the state crime lab told Kobel that they had identified mixed DNA from both Mitchell and the victim on the items.

On July 29, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department obtained a nationwide felony warrant for Mitchell’s arrest on first-degree murder charges.  Mitchell was arrested by US Marshals in Leesburg, Florida Thursday morning.

He will be extradited to Pierce County.

Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.