Friday, April 22, 2016

Tacoma Police release DNA Snapshot composite images of suspects in 1986 murders


Michella Welch (left) was 12 when she was killed on March 26, 1986.
Jennifer Bastian (right) was 13 when she disappeared on August 4, 1986. 
Her body was found 22 days later.  
(Source: The News Tribune)

In 1986, during a five month period, two young girls were murdered in Tacoma, Washington's North End.  The circumstances were so similar that for decades police thought they were the work of a single perpetrator.  

On the morning of March 26, 1986, 12 year-old Michella Welch took her younger sisters to Puget Park, near their home.  At about 11 a.m. she left them playing and rode her bike back home to fix lunch.  

Around 1 p.m. Michella returned to the park with lunch.  Her sisters were not there, they had gone to a nearby business to use the bathroom.  When they returned, Michella was gone.  By 3:10 p.m. police were searching the park.  Michella's body was found later that night at 11:30 p.m. near a makeshift fire pit in the gulch.   

Jennifer Bastian was 13 years-old when she disappeared five months later on August 4, 1986.  That day she had gone for a bike ride on Five Mile Drive in Point Defiance Park.  The young girl was dedicated in her training for a bike tour.  

She was seen in the park by several people, including two who saw her between 3 and 5 p.m. at the Dalco Passage view point.  Jennifer was supposed to return home by 6:30 p.m.  When she didn't, her parents reported her missing at 8:30 p.m.  The park was widely searched, but Jennifer's remains and bike were only found 22 days later on August 26, 1986.  

The similarities were significant.  Both victims were a similar age, both disappeared from area parks and the crimes were months apart.  One major difference was that Michella's throat was cut while Jennifer had been strangled.

The DNA evidence has not led to a match in the current databases. Tacoma Police reached out to Parabon Nanolabs to create a Snapshot from DNA phenotype.  The FBI paid $7,000 for the DNA composite images to be created.   

Look carefully.  Do you remember seeing either of these men in 1986 in the Tacoma, Washington area?  

Investigators warn that these DNA snapshot composites are an approximation of what the suspects looked like 30 years ago in 1986.  They have not been age progressed.

Composite of suspect in Michella Welch's murder.
The composite shows what he may have looked like
at 25 years-old. 
Possible physical traits include: 
Fair to very Fair skin, Brown to Hazel eyes,
Blond-Brown Hair, and 0 - few freckles.
(Source: Parabon Nanolabs)

Composite of suspect in Jennifer Bastian's murder.
The composite shows what he may have looked like
at 25 years-old. 
Possible physical traits include: 
Fair to very Fair skin, Green to Blue eyes,
Blond to Red Hair, and few to some freckles.
(Source: Parabon Nanolabs)

Police also ask the public to call in tips if they remember similar attacks or attempts in the area.  In an article from The News Tribune it states that, "Police believe Bastian’s killer likely tried to grab other girls before or after her death."
Read more here:

If you have ANY information, please contact:
Tip Line:   (253) 798-TIPS (8477)

Click below to watch the Q13 Fox News report from April 6, 2016 with more information:

Sources of Information:
The News Tribune article, "Police: Jennifer Bastian, Michella Welch killed by different people in 1986," by Stacia Glenn, March 31, 2016:

The News Tribune article, "Tacoma police release composite images of suspects in 1986 slayings," by Stacia Glenn, April 6, 2016:

The News Tribune article, "More than 100 new tips logged in Tacoma girls' 1986 slayings," by Stacia Glenn, April 12, 2016

Q13 Fox News report, "DNA evidence used to draw up sketches of men wanted in 1986 rape, killing 2 Tacoma girls," by Hana Kim, April 6, 2016:

Parabon Nanolabs media release, "Parabon Snapshot Reveals Two Perpetrators Responsible for Child Abduction Murders in Tacoma, WA," April 6, 2016:

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