Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Jennifer Bastian

Real Names: Jennifer Marie Bastian
Nicknames: Jenny
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Date: August 4, 1986


Details: Thirteen-year-old Jennifer Bastian vanished on August 4, 1986. At 2:30PM, she left home to ride her bike thirty blocks to Point Defiance Park and then go back home. She was training for a YMCA bicycle tour of Lopez Island. Several witnesses saw her at the park later that day. When Jennifer did not return home that evening, her family called the police.
Jennifer’s body was found twenty-eight days later by a group of joggers near the Five Mile Drive. She had been raped and strangled. Police found DNA near her body and submitted about thirty cheek swabs of potential suspects to the lab for comparison.
Jennifer’s case is often linked to the Michella Welch murder. Michella’s remains had been found four months earlier in the ravine of another Tacoma park. Michella was twelve when she disappeared in March 1986. She too had been on a bike and on her way home to care for her sisters. Police found her body the same night.
Suspects: Police suspected that convicted child killer David Fisher was involved in Jenny's murder. However, he could not be located.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of a special alert in the December 6, 1989 episode, along with Carla Wright and Michella Welch. This case, alongside Michella's was documented on an episode of Dateline and On the Case with Paula Zahn after it was resolved.

Results: Solved. Fisher was arrested as a result of the broadcast but was later ruled out in Jenny's case. For years, police suspected that Jenny and Michella were killed by the same man. However, in 2016, DNA testing determined that they had been killed by different people. Composites were made of the killers based on their DNA profiles.
On May 10, 2018, sixty-year-old Robert D. Washburn was arrested and charged with Jenny's murder. Washburn was arrested in Eureka, Illinois, and has been transferred to Pierce County Jail to face charges. Washburn was a suspect in the case from the beginning. At the time of the murder, he lived less than five miles from Point Defiance Park and a few blocks from the Bastian home. He had also been considered a suspect in Michella's case, after he told police that he recognized her killer as a fellow jogger. He also told police that he noticed a "foul smell" coming from the same area where Jenny's body was later found. When police re-investigated the case in 2016, they collected a DNA sample from Washburn. In May of 2018, his DNA was determined to have matched DNA found on Jenny's body and clothing.
In January of 2019, Washburn pleaded guilty to Jenny's murder. He confessed to abducting her while she rode her bike in the park. He said that he dragged her into the woods, sexually assaulted her, and strangled her. As a result of the plea, he was sentenced to twenty-seven years in prison.
DNA testing identified Michella's killer as Gary Hartman; he was arrested in July of 2018 and is currently awaiting trial.