Thirty years ago an 18-year-old woman went missing after she left her parents’ home in northern Washington to go on a run and was later found dead. For three decades her death haunted her family, investigators and others in the community.
Investigators were finally able to convict a suspect in the case earlier this year thanks to DNA found on a cup of Coke collected by the suspect’s coworker.
On Nov. 27, 1989, Amanda “Mandy” Stavik’s body was found only three days after her disappearance. She was wearing nothing but socks and tennis shoes.
Investigators determined that her cause of death was drowning and ruled it a homicide.
Although Mandy’s mother, Mary Stavik, now 82, told The Bellingham Herald she had had time to accept her daughter’s absence, only one thing would really give her closure.
“The only thing that would be closure, would be to bring Mandy back,” she said.
On Mary’s 81st birthday, Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo was able to give her the answer to a question she had been asking for nearly 30 years. His department had arrested her daughter’s killer.
51-year-old Timothy Forrest Bass had watched Mandy run past his house multiple times while she was home on Thanksgiving break from her freshman year at Central Washington University before he raped and killed her.
Bass became a person of interest after detective Kevin Bowhay began investigating the case again in 2009. According to the Daily Mail, Bowhay asked for DNA samples from dozens of males — including Bass — who lived in the town at the time of the murder, seeking a match for the DNA found on Mandy’s body. Soon after Mandy was found, Bass moved from the area and when investigators approached him to collect a DNA sample in 2013, he refused. Thanks to one of Bass’ co-workers, however, investigators were able to get a sample of his DNA four years later.
In 2017 Kim Wagner, Bass’ co-worker at Franz Bakery, found out that Bass was a person of interest and grabbed from the trash can a plastic cup and a can of Coke that he had used. She handed the evidence over to investigators.
Bass was found guilty of first-degree murder, as well as first-degree kidnapping and first-degree rape, on May 24. On July 2 he was sentenced to nearly 27 years in prison.
Special prosecuting attorney David McEachran came out of retirement to handle the case.
“I’ve never seen (a case) that had an impact like this one did,” McEachran said, according to The Bellingham Herald. “People felt that they didn’t have a sense of safety. It was the realization that we’re not all that safe and that there was a monster who was really living among us.”
ABC’s “20/20” will air a two-hour special on Sept. 20 that will focus on the 30-year investigation and subsequent trial for Mandy’s murder.
Sheriff Elfo is hopeful that the special will help other cases like Mandy’s across the country to be solved.
“We appreciate ‘20/20’s’ work on this production, which will depict how good citizens came forward to help law enforcement solve this horrendous case of kidnapping, rape and murder,” he said, according to The Bellingham Herald.
“My hope is that it will motivate people who may have suspicions about other cold case murders here or elsewhere, to come forward and provide information to law enforcement.”
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