Investigators in Washington claim they have cracked a nearly 30-year-old cold case, arresting a 50-year-old man this week in the 1989 slaying of 18-year-old college freshman Amanda “Mandy” Stavik, PEOPLE confirms.
Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a statement that DNA evidence collected from Stavik’s remains allegedly matched that of Timothy Bass, who has been formally charged with first-degree murder.
The count against him reportedly also includes allegations of rape and kidnapping, prosecutors said. (The statute of limitations on those standalone crimes has expired in Stavik’s case.)
Bass has yet to enter a plea and does not have a lawyer who could comment on his behalf. He is being held on $1 million bail, PEOPLE confirms. He faces a possible life sentence in prison.
On the afternoon of Nov. 24, 1989, Stavik — who was home for Thanksgiving from Central Washington University — went for a jog with the family’s dog.
The dog returned hours later, but Stavik did not.
Three days later, the Acme, Washington, woman’s body was found in the south fork of the Nooksack River, according to sheriff’s statement. Authorities believe she may have been drowned.
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Elfo said that in the decades since Stavik died, the investigation into what happened to her “has remained a top priority for the Sheriff’s Office.”
He said Bass, of Everson, Washington, “emerged” as a possible suspect “in recent years.” At the time of Stavik’s killing, Bass lived not far from her family’s residence.
The alleged DNA match proved integral to Wednesday’s arrest, according to authorities.
“The laboratory determined that the match probability was 1 in 11 quadrillion,” Elfo said.
Bass initially told authorities he had had no contact with Stavik, the Bellingham Herald reports, citing court records. But he later allegedly said they had had a consensual sexual encounter before she went missing.
“At the time of her murder, Mandy was a bright young first-year student at Central Washington University and well known in the east Whatcom County community,” Sheriff Elfo said.
“She had graduated from Mount Baker High School earlier in the year. She would have celebrated her 46th birthday this year,” he continued. “Her brutal murder rocked the community and she is still well remembered by many. We hope that this arrest will help bring closure to Mandy’s family and the community.”
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Bass does not have a criminal history in Washington, according to the Bellingham Herald. However, court records reportedly show his wife accused him in 2010 of abuse and said he watched TV shows about cold cases, at one point allegedly saying, “I wouldn’t get caught because I’m not that stupid. It would be easy to get away with it.”
The investigation remains ongoing, according to Elfo.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office at 360-778-6600 or 360-778-6663.
Efforts to reach Stavik’s family were unsuccessful on Thursday.