DNA leads to arrest in a second Washington State cold case of a murdered girl

Gary Hartman, 66, was charged Friday with the rape and murder in the death of 12-year-old Michella Welch in Tacoma (Washington), 32 years ago.

(Q13 Fox/Tacoma Police)

The police in Tacoma (Washington), tried for years to solve the murders of two young girls who were last seen with the bike 32 years ago.

Now, in the past six weeks, and with the aid of DNA evidence, they have announced the separate arrests in connection with two murders, reports say.

Twelve-year-old Michella Walsh and 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian were lively girls when they are killed in the near two parks within a five-month span in 1986. She had also been raped.

On Friday, Gary Hartman, 66, of Lakewood, was charged with Michella’s murder, Q13 Fox reported. He worked as a nurse specialist in a psychiatric hospital.


In May, Robert Washburn, 60, Of Eureka, Ill., was charged with Jennfier the murder, according to reports.

Researchers tapped public genealogical databases to identify possible suspects in the two murders, according to Tacoma police and The News Tribune in Tacoma.

Tacoma police chief Don Ramsdell said the resolve both cases in a short time it was “extraordinary”, says the paper.

For years, researchers believed that the same person killed the two girls. DNA evidence excluded from a connection in 2016.

Tacoma police obtained Hartman DNA recently when he got a napkin to wipe his mouth in a restaurant, Q13 reported. A detective who was tailing Hartman took the napkin as evidence.

KING-TV spoke to Nichola Eby, Michella’s sister, who was 9 in 1986.

“You think that 32 years later, you should be OK, but that’s not it,” Eby said. “It’s still really all the time.”






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