A sip of Coke taken from a plastic cup a few months ago has led authorities in Washington state to make an arrest in a 1989 cold-case rape and murder of an 18-year-old jogger.
Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo has announced that thanks to new DNA evidence, detectives arrested 50-year-old Timothy Bass on Tuesday in connection to the slaying of Mandy Stavik.
The Everson resident is facing charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape.
He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon where bail was set at $1million. His next court appearance is scheduled for December 22.
Stavik vanished just before 2pm on November 24, 1989, while jogging with her dog near her home east of Bellingham in Acme.
A 1989 graduate of Mount Baker High, Stavik was home on break from her freshman year at Central Washington University.
Case closed: Timothy Bass (left), 50, of Washington state, was arrested Tuesday on charges of murder rape and kidnapping in November 1989 death of 18-year-old Mandy Stavik (right)
When her German shepherd, Kyra, returned home alone three hours later, a search for the 18-year-old woman began.
Three days later, a volunteer firefighter came upon the missing teen’s lifeless, naked body in the South Fork of the Nooksack River.‘
I think this about the biggest case ever in Whatcom County,’ Elfo said at a press conference announcing Bass’ arrest on Wednesday.
He added that detectives have ‘doggedly’ followed hundreds of leads and looked into scores of potential suspects all across the US, and even abroad.
The cause of Stavik’s death was listed as not inconsistent with drowning. Authorities said she may have been alive when she was dumped in the river.
She had a blood clot on the back of her head, suggesting that she had been struck, and possibly knocked unconscious, according to reporting by The Bellingham Herald.
Elfo said at the time of the murder, then-22-year-old Bass was a neighbor of Stavik’s on Strand Road.
Bass was a suspect for several years, but his DNA from a plastic drinking cup wasn’t obtained until September, Elfo said.
Evidence presented in court Wednesday showed that Bass’s DNA was obtained through a co-worker at Franz Bakery, where the suspect worked as a delivery truck driver.
‘Deputies forwarded DNA samples from Mr. Bass to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory who reported that this DNA matched DNA recovered from Mandy’s body in 1989,’ Elfo said.
According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, the Laboratory determined that the match probability was 1 in 11 quadrillion.
Bass has no criminal history in Washington state, but in August 2010 his wife filed for a domestic violence protection.
According to court records obtained by The Herald, Bass' wife claimed that her husband, with whom she has three children, watched TV shows about cold-case murders, and in one instance told her: 'I wouldn't get caught because I'm not that stupid. It would be easy to get away with it.'
Mount Baker Superintendent Charles Burleigh said Wednesday that the tragic story has resonated through the community.
‘This is something that the Mount Baker community has some very deep feelings about,’ Burleigh said. ‘People here are still impacted by that case. To hear that they are making an arrest is big news.’
At the time of her death, Stavik was a first-year student at Central Washington University and well-known in the east Whatcom County community.
She had graduated earlier in the year from Mount Baker High School, where she was an honors student, played basketball and softball, ran cross-country and track and was in the school band.
‘She would have celebrated her 46th birthday this year,’ stated Sheriff Elfo. ‘Her brutal murder rocked the community and she is still well remembered by many. We hope that this arrest will help bring closure to Mandy’s family and the community.’