Robert Dwane Washburn: Where is Jennifer Bastian’s Killer Now?

The episode titled ‘Taken in Takoma’ of A&E’s ‘Cold Case Files’ explores the intricate details of Jennifer Bastian’s murder case, which took over three decades to solve. In 1986, when the body of 13-year-old Jennifer surfaced, the entire community was shaken to its core, fearing that a killer was on the loose. The episode gave an account of how the perpetrator — Robert Dwane Washburn — was finally captured by the authorities, leaving questions in the minds of the viewers about his whereabouts for the three decades he roamed around free.

A Seemingly Regular Man, Robert Dwane Washburn Turned Out to be a Killer

Born in the late 1950s, Robert Dwane Washburn seemingly grew up in a loving household, with her father owning an auto body shop in Tacoma. He went to Wilson High School, from where he graduated in 1977. Finding love early on in his life, he got married for the first time in 1979, but after six years, they went their separate ways in 1985 for undisclosed reasons. Five years later, he tried his luck in marriage again by marrying his second wife, Cindy Stephens, in 1990. They even welcomed a daughter into the world. At the time, he was employed at Boeing as a mechanic.

From the looks of it, things didn’t seem to work out between Robert and Cindy either. In the late 1990s, he relocated to Burlington in Skagit County, where he reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2000. In the late 2000s, he was on the move again as he settled into an apartment in Eureka, Illinois. He was devoted to taking care of his daughter, who is a person with a disability, on his own and kept to himself. But on May 24, 2018, the seemingly ordinary man, without any criminal record, was arrested and charged with the first-degree murder of Jennifer Bastian, who was found sexually assaulted and murdered on August 4, 1986. The only time he had a run-in with the law was in 1985 when he was arrested on suspicion of vehicle prowling and criminal trespass. However, he was never charged.

The neighbors he had in his Eureka apartment were shocked, as they always considered him a compassionate and kind man. As per reports, one of the neighbor’s daughters used to come over to Robert’s place and spend time with him and his daughter many times. Robert also used to be nice to another neighbor named Justin Boertlein and helped him out with his jeep whenever required. However, one of the neighbors always found the cameras in his window quite alarming. After his arrest, the neighbor also noticed that he used to keep his windows closed, he did not welcome any visitors after 4 pm, and a tarp was used to cover his black SUV most days.

What tied him to Jennifer’s murder was the call the 28-year-old him made to the authorities in May 1986, claiming to have seen a suspicious man jogging on Five Mile Drive in Point Defiance Park, where the victim’s body was discovered. When the police looked into his background, they learned that he used to live only nine blocks from the Bastian family at the time of the murder. Moreover, just a year prior to his arrest, a few officers knocked on his door to ask for a DNA swab, which he provided without any hesitation whatsoever. As the DNA gathered from Jennifer’s swimsuit matched his DNA, he was arrested.

Robert Dwane Washburn is Incarcerated in a Washington Prison

At first, Robert Dwane Washburn pleaded not guilty, but after several months, he changed his mind. In a written statement, he pleaded guilty to killing Jennifer Bastian and ensured that the victim’s family did not have to go through a trial and relive the tragedy all over again. He expressed his apology and regret toward the family in his statement. On January 25, 2019, Robert finally confessed his involvement in the 1986 murder of Jennifer Bastian in the courtroom.

Robert admitted that he grabbed the 13-year-old girl by the arm while she was simply riding her bike in Point Defiance Park on August 4, 1986, before dragging her into the woods. There, he strangled her to death. Although the reports showed signs of sexual assault, he never talked about it. Moreover, the convict did not go into the details of his motive. The 61-year-old killer was then sentenced to 27 years in prison for his crimes. Currently, Robert Dwane Washburn is serving his sentence behind bars at Airway Heights Corrections Center at 11919 Sprague Avenue in Airway Heights, Washington.

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