32 Years After 13-Year-Old Disappeared, Family Finally Has Closure Following Arrest


August 4, 1986, is a day ingrained in many Tacoma, Washington people’s minds. It was the day that Jennifer Bastian disappeared.

The 13-year-old left her home on her bike at 2:30 pm and promised to be back no later than 6:30 pm. She was going to Point Defiance Park to train for an upcoming bike tour in the San Juan islands.

When she never returned, law enforcement began their search. Her body was found in a wooded area later that month.

It was devastating not only for the family but also for Jenni’s friends. Stephanie Hatch remembered, “We were robbed of our innocence. We were scared after the murder of Welch and then Jenni in Tacoma, it was a scary time.”

James Peterson, one of Jenni’s classmates, says that the August day haunts him. “I distinctively remember Jennifer riding up and asking if we wanted to go riding with her and, being teenage boys, we all kind of ignored her, then we never saw her again,” he said. “We went out every day scouring the vacant lots trying to find her.”

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Despite the police department’s investigation, a suspect was never identified even though new information continued to pour in.

In 2013 Jenni’s mother, Pattie, went to a local news station to remind people of her daughter in hopes that someone would be able to add new information to the case. Then when new computer-generated sketches of a possible suspect were released, it sparked hope for closure.

Now, 32 years after the teenager’s disappearance, Tacoma Police Department released a statement that they had found probable cause to place a suspect in custody. “This case was never closed as we continued to investigate new tips and review existing case files,” the Facebook post read.

Jenni’s family was extremely thankful for everything TPD had done over the past three decades.

“We wish to thank TPD, detectives, cold case unit and Lindsey Wade for their perseverance in handling Jenni’s case. No one ever gave up and we care for each and every one of our dedicated law enforcers. Thank you so much,” Pattie wrote.

Theresa, Jenni’s sister, wrote, “I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING! So grateful to the law enforcement community that never stopped caring about my sister’s case.”

The 13-year-old’s classmates and friends also feel the relief of closure. James described it as a “long time coming.”

Stephanie said, “I cried, I shook uncontrollably. I had goosebumps. Some sense of feeling like Jenni’s finally got some justice.”

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A press conference is scheduled for May 14, 2018, to release more information surrounding the case and the arrest.

Jenni’s family is extremely thankful for the stories being shared about her. “Thank you to everyone who is sharing their memories of Jennifer and wishing mom and I well during this astonishing time. We appreciate your kind words and intentions,” Theresa wrote.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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