Alan Edward Dean in about 1993 (left), and in 2020. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

Alan Edward Dean in about 1993 (left), and in 2020. (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

Long-cold case inches closer to trial in Bothell teen’s 1993 killing

Charges were filed for a third time against Alan Dean — whose mental health appears to have improved — in the death of Melissa Lee.

EVERETT — After two years of mental health concerns, first-degree murder charges have been refiled for a third time against a man accused of killing a Bothell teen in 1993.

In early August, prosecutors again filed first-degree murder charges against Alan Edward Dean, 64, in the death of Melissa Lee. Charges were previously filed in August 2020 and March of this year, but judges dismissed them both times while Dean got mental health treatment.

With the help of forensic genealogy, police arrested Dean in connection with Lee’s death in July 2020. A used cigarette butt linked Dean to the long unsolved killing of Lee, who was 15 when she died in April 1993. He was 35 at the time.

Lee and Dean had met on an anonymous phone line, according to the charges refiled in Snohomish County Superior Court. Her mother came home to a house in shambles that night in April 1993. Soon after, passersby found Lee’s body 50 feet below the Edgewater Creek bridge on Mukilteo Boulevard.

At court appearances after prosecutors first charged him with premeditated murder in 2020, Dean rambled incoherently.

Finding Dean didn’t have the capacity to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or to help in his defense, Snohomish County judges twice ordered competency restoration treatment at a state psychiatric hospital. In that time, Dean wrote a series of letters to Superior Court judges in which he claimed he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

After doctors argued the defendant was unlikely to regain competency soon, Judge Richard Okrent dismissed the case in April 2021 and indefinitely committed Dean to the state hospital. Prosecutors could refile the charges if a judge found him competent to stand trial in the future.

In March, the defendant was discharged from the hospital, leading prosecutors to refile the charges. But since they didn’t present enough evidence Dean could be restored to competency, Superior Court Judge Anna Alexander again dismissed the case.

The psychiatric hospital has indicated Dean’s condition may have improved, however. In a report quoted in the newest charges, the defendant’s psychologist wrote that “despite differing reports made by psychologists and evaluators of Mr. Dean over the last year and a half, there is currently insufficient evidence to diagnose Mr. Dean with a formal thought disorder … or any other psychotic disorder.”

The psychologist also noted Dean had declined medication, but his mental health didn’t decline, according to court documents.

“The titration and ultimate discontinuation of all psychiatric medication would almost certainly lead to decompensation or change in presentation if Mr. Dean did have a thought or mood disorder,” the doctor reportedly wrote. “This has not happened.”

In another report in late June, a psychologist wrote that Dean “does not show any symptoms of psychosis or mental health disorder that interferes with his ability to make decisions or provide basic needs of health and welfare,” according to the charges.

“There is no indication at present that Mr. Dean is gravely disabled,” the psychologist reportedly added.

In late July, the state attorney general’s office wrote to prosecutors that Dean was going to be discharged from the hospital. On Aug. 5, he was booked into the Snohomish County Jail with bail set at $2 million. He has remained there since. Again, a judge ordered a mental health evaluation.

Several hearings have been scheduled for a judge to hear about Dean’s status. But over and over they’ve been rescheduled as prosecutors and the defense awaited that evaluation. That new evaluation has been completed, but the attorneys now need more time to analyze the complicated case.

Dean’s next court appearance is set for Nov. 10.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439;; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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