Timothy Bass, suspect in 1989 murder of Mandy Stavik, enters plea. Trial date set

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More on the Mandy Stavik case

Read about the arrest in the Mandy Stavik murder, plus other coverage of her 1989 disappearance.

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Timothy Forrest Bass, the Everson man accused in the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area, pleaded not guilty Friday morning in Whatcom County Superior Court.

A tentative trial date has been set for Feb. 12.

Bass, 50, was arrested Dec. 12 by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged Dec. 14 with first-degree murder, and remains in the Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

Whatcom County Prosecutor David McEachran said the first-degree murder charge is likely the only one Bass will be facing. McEachran couldn’t charge Bass separately with rape or kidnapping because the statute of limitations had run out for both crimes – there is no statute of limitations for murder.

Suspects can be charged with first-degree murder in Washington state if they either attempted to commit or did commit the crime of rape or kidnapping and then fled, which resulted in the victim’s death.

The death penalty can’t be sought in this case. If convicted, Bass could be sentenced from 20 years to life in prison.

Bass has no criminal history in Washington state, but in August 2010 his wife filed for a domestic violence protection order lasting longer than a year. It was to protect her and their three children, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.

In the file, Bass’ wife alleged physical and verbal abuse. She also claimed that Bass watched cold case files television shows, and at one time told her “I wouldn’t get caught because I’m not that stupid. It would be easy to get away with it,” according to court records.

Bass’ wife terminated the protection order a few months after it was filed.

The case

Mandy Stavik-use as inset
Amanda “Mandy” Stavik in her Mount Baker High School graduation photo. She was a freshman at Central Washington University when she was killed in November 1989 while home visiting family in Whatcom County. File Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Stavik went missing Nov. 24, 1989 while jogging near her home on Strand Road in Clipper, a community clustered along Highway 9 between Acme and Van Zandt. Stavik was home for Thanksgiving break from her freshman year at Central Washington University. She was last seen at about 2:30 p.m. that day, with her German shepherd dog, Kyra.

Stavik’s unclothed body was found three days later in the south fork of the Nooksack River, about 3½ miles from the family’s home. Stavik’s cause of death was drowning, an autopsy done by medical examiner Gary Goldfogel determined. Goldfogel also found a blood clot on the back of Stavik’s head, which was indicative of a blow to the head that could have knocked her unconscious, court records show.

Stavik also was engaged in sexual activity either before or after her death, and semen was removed from her body and preserved, authorities said. No injuries were observed on her body, other than a few superficial scratches stretching from her thighs to her knees, which could have been caused by running through the brush, according to court records.

Bass Arraignment 1

From the evidence taken from Stavik’s body during the autopsy, a DNA profile was created. Over the last several years, voluntary DNA evidence was collected from at least 30 people in the Acme area where Stavik lived. None of the samples sent to the Washington State Crime laboratory for analysis matched the suspect profile, according to court papers filed in the case.

During the voluntary DNA campaign, Bass was contacted several times by law enforcement and refused to provide a sample. Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said the man’s 2014 refusal, coupled with other peculiar behavior, is what led detectives to focus on Bass as a suspect.

His employer, Franz Bakery, where Bass drove a delivery truck, was contacted in an attempt to get a DNA sample. A detective asked if investigators could swab the inside of his truck, but the company declined to cooperate, according to court documents.

A statement from Franz Bakery officials issued last week said the company was never provided a search warrant or subpoena by the sheriff’s office during the investigation, and that there was only an informal request to swab the company truck Bass drove for DNA.

Another employee of Franz saw Bass drink out of a plastic cup and a Coke can. The employee grabbed the cup and can and turned them into the sheriff’s office. DNA taken from the cup matched that of the suspect profile taken from Stavik’s body, detectives allege in court papers.

The chance investigators would select a random, unrelated person in the U.S. with a matching DNA profile is 1 in 11 quadrillion, Elfo said. When investigators contacted Bass, he indicated he had no contact with Stavik prior to her disappearance and he had no intimate sexual relations with her, according to the charges.

When he was told about the matching DNA profile, Bass continued to deny any intimate relationship. After he was arrested, Bass then indicated he had a consensual intimate relationship with Stavik prior to her disappearance, according to court records.

ABC’s investigative series “20/20” will premiere “30 Years Searching,” a two-hour special on this case at 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

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