Amanda Stavik: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

Image Credit: Nicole/Find a Grave

When an 18-year-old woman, Amanda Stavik, did not return home after her jogging session in 1989, her family became concerned. Their worst nightmares turned into reality when her body was found a few days later. The murder case of Amanda remained a mystery for decades until DNA-matching technology was used to finally capture the perpetrator. The entire case spanning nearly three decades is covered in detail in the episode titled ’30 Years Searching’ of ABC’s ’20/20. Besides the investigation, the exclusive interviews in the episode also showcase the impact her demise left on her loved ones.

Amanda Stavik’s Body Was Found Floating in the Nooksack River

Amanda Teresa “Mandy” Stavik was born in the city of Anchorage, Alaska, on April 16, 1971. The beloved daughter of Mary Stavik, Amanda grew up surrounded by the support of her siblings — sister Molly and brother Lee. Following the separation of their parents, their mother moved the kids from Alaska to Acme in Whatcom County, Washington. She completed her schooling from Mount Baker High School and had gotten admission in Central Washington University at the time of her untimely death. Apart from being great on the academic front, she was also involved in various outdoor activities and sports, including riding horseback, running track, softball, and basketball.

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During high school, Amanda was seeing a guy named Rick Zender, with whom she had an on-and-off relationship. For the Thanksgiving break of 1989, she planned to stay at her family’s home. So, he gave her a ride home from college. Little did anybody know that the day after the festival would turn out to be her last. After she left the Acme residence in the late afternoon of November 24, 1989, for a jog with her German Shepherd, only her dog returned home several hours later. An extensive search for the 18-year-old was launched, but she was nowhere to be found until three days later when her body was discovered in the Nooksack River on November 27, 1989. Upon inspecting the body, investigators learned that she was sexually assaulted before getting knocked out and drowned in the river.

It Took About Three Decades to Capture Amanda Stavik’s Murderer

Working with limited evidence, including the DNA of the killer, the police followed a few leads for several years but could not gather enough evidence to arrest anyone for the murder of Amanda Stavik. After more than two decades, in 2013, a couple of mothers, Heather Backstrom and Merrilee Anderson, randomly began talking about the case of Amanda, during which they both opened up about who the killer was, in their opinion — Timothy Bass. When they shared their uncomfortable experiences related to Timothy back in the 1980s, the mothers were convinced about it and went to the police, leading to the reopening of the decades-old cold case.

Image Credit: CBS News

As the investigators dug deeper into the suspect’s past, they learned that he used to live just a few houses away from the Staviks in 1989. Not only did he attend the same school as hers, but their families knew each other. Moreover, his brother was reportedly a close friend of Amanda as well. Then, the detectives knocked on Timothy’s door and asked him a few questions related to Amanda Stavik. But when he pretended not to remember her and refused to give them his DNA, their suspicion intensified. So, they got in touch with one of his co-workers, Kim Wagner, at the bakery where he worked. Although she was a bit hesitant to work with the police at first, she hatched a plan.

She managed to provide the police with a discarded cup and Coke can from Timothy so that they could match his DNA against the killer’s DNA, which they had found more than two decades ago. After they found a DNA match, nearly three long decades later, on December 12, 2017, Timothy Bass was arrested at Franz Bakery and charged with the murder of Amanda Stavik. During the interrogation, he claimed that he and Amanda were involved in a secret sexual relationship. He stated, “It was more of a friendship type thing. We just talked, and then it just kind of grew into more of a physical thing, and we didn’t even really do it that much. It was more kissing and stuff.”

As per his claims, on the day she disappeared, she showed up at his house unannounced and left unharmed, which justified the presence of his DNA found on her. However, the police, as well as the victim’s family, did not buy his story. In May 2019, the trial of Timothy Bass began, and after three weeks, on May 24, he was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and raping the 18-year-old woman. Before his sentencing, he took the stand to address the court. He stated, “I would first like to say that I am 100% innocent of this crime. I wish no ill will towards anyone here, not even today. But I am having a hard time with this.” The 51-year-old convict received the maximum sentence of 320 months imprisonment for his crime almost three decades ago.

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