TACOMA, Wash. — They were murders that stunned Tacoma, once believed to be the work of the same killer. Two girls, ages 12 and 13, were abducted, raped, and murdered four months apart.
Now police say the girl's murders were committed by two different killers.
Thirty years later Tacoma police said they will use a team specializing in finding abducted children to finally solve the murders.
Michella Welch, 12, was found shortly after she disappeared March 26, 1986 in Puget Park. Jennifer Bastian, 13, vanished in Pt. Defiance park on August 4, 1986.
It took 24 days to find her body even though it was still in the park.
For decades the murders were believed to be related. Police now say new evidence leads them to believe one man did not kill both girls.
"There are two separate suspects for the two separate cases," said Tacoma police spokeswoman Officer Loretta Cool.
Cool said evidence 30 years ago suggested the same killer abducted and killed Welch and Bastian.
"The crime scenes were very similar, the girls were of a similar age, and they were in a very similar geographic location. So we operated on those facts," said Cool.
Two composite sketches of suspicious persons were produced after Welch disappeared in March.
A composite sketch of a man seen following Bastian the day she vanished was also released, but no suspects were named and no arrests ever made.
On April 6th, Tacoma police will mobilize their child abduction response team, or CART, in an effort to generate new evidence and information in hopes of finding someone who may have seen something the day the girls vanished but never came forward.
"It's 30 years removed now, and we're hoping that is someone had that feeling or that thought that now they will come forward and give us that information," said Cool. "Somebody saw something and didn't call. Somebody knew something and felt like maybe we already knew it and didn't call."
Bastian's mother Patty talked KIRO 7 two years ago about the case, saying she has faith Tacoma detectives will find her daughter's killer.
"I do have hope. I have more than hope, I have surety," said Bastian. "I know they're going to solve it."
© 2020 Cox Media Group