By Robert Mittendorf / The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM — Whatcom County Sheriff’s officials have arrested an Everson man in the rape and murder of Mandy Stavik nearly 30 years ago, one of the area’s highest-profile cold cases.
Sheriff Bill Elfo, who said he and others in his office have been “obsessed” with finding Stavik’s killer, said DNA evidence led detectives to the arrest of Timothy Forrest Bass, 50.
Bass was arrested about noon Tuesday by sheriff’s detectives on suspicion of first degree murder, first degree kidnapping and first degree rape, Elfo said.
“I think this about the biggest case ever in Whatcom County,” Elfo said Wednesday morning. “Our detectives have just done a phenomenal job.” Elfo said he will give further details of the arrest at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center.
Bass is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Elfo said Bass was a neighbor of Stavik’s at the time of the murder.
“Deputies forwarded DNA samples from Mr. Bass to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory who reported that this DNA matched DNA recovered from Mandy’s body in 1989,” Elfo said. “The laboratory determined that the match probability was 1 in 11 quadrillion.”
He was 22 at the time. She was 18.
Domestic violence alleged
According to Whatcom County Superior Court records, Bass’s wife filed for a domestic violence protection order lasting longer than a year in August 2010. In the court filing, she alleged physical and verbal abuse and sought to protect her and their three children.
When describing the reasons she filed for a protection order, Bass’ wife alleged that he shoved her into the wall and bruised her back while she was sweeping the floor. He then told her “people have made me so angry before and I can see why people murder other people,” the court files state.
Bass’ wife also claimed that Bass watched cold case files television shows, and during one incident, told her “I wouldn’t get caught because I’m not that stupid. It would be easy to get away with it,” the court records show. She claimed he told her a piece of paper, like a protection order, wouldn’t stop him.
When asked by the court why she wanted the protection order to last longer than a year, she said, “he won’t stop until he gets me.”
Bass’ wife terminated the protection order a few months later, court records show.
She also filed for divorce in 2010, but the proceedings were dropped because the pair had “reconciled,” according to court records.
He has no criminal convictions in the state of Washington.
Bass was in delivery and sales and worked a commission job in late 2010, according to court records.
Amanda Theresa “Mandy” Stavik vanished November 24, 1989, while jogging near her home on Strand Road in Acme. Her nude body was found three days later.
“It was awful,” Van Zandt resident Kathy Kyle told The Bellingham Herald in 2009. “I just remember feeling totally sick. I think everyone in the valley felt she was one of our children.”
Stavik left home for a run just before 2 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, wearing green sweat pants and a lighter colored sweat shirt.
Her pet German shepherd returned home alone a few hours later, prompting fears that she had been abducted and sparking an intense search.
Her body was found three days later in the South Fork of the Nooksack River by a volunteer firefighter assisting in the effort.
She had been raped, a fact that detectives initially withheld.
Cause of death was listed as not inconsistent with drowning, and authorities said she may have been alive when she was dumped in the river.
Promising future ahead
A 1989 graduate of Mount Baker High, Stavik was home on Thanksgiving break from her freshman year at Central Washington University.
She played saxophone in band and was an honors student as well as an athlete. She played basketball and softball, and ran cross-country and track.
Mount Baker Superintendent Charles Burleigh said Wednesday that the tragic story has resonated through the community.
“This is something that the Mount Baker community has some very deep feelings about,” Burleigh said. “People here are still impacted by that case. To hear that they are making an arrest is big news.”
Some 900 people attended a memorial service in early December 1989, and an endowed scholarship was established in her name at Mount Baker High.
She’s buried at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery on Clipper Road.
Anyone with information relevant to the case is asked to call 360-788-5303.
The Bellingham Herald’s Denver Pratt and Dave Rasbach contributed to this story.