‘I wanted to show Mandy’s family some love’ classmate says of message on iconic rock

The iconic painted boulder perched above Interstate 5 four miles south of Bellingham has been repainted in honor of Amanda “Mandy” Stavik.

The boulder holds five decades of messages of celebration, love and loss, as previously reported by The Bellingham Herald, and now it holds one more.

Stavik disappeared Nov. 24, 1989, while jogging near her home on Strand Road in Clipper, near Acme. Three days later, the 18-year-old’s nude body was found in the south fork of the Nooksack River. She had been abducted, raped and murdered.

On July 2, Timothy Forrest Bass was sentenced to nearly 27 years in prison — almost as much time as he was free — for killing Stavik. A jury found Bass guilty of first-degree murder May 24 after a three-week trial in Whatcom County Superior Court. Bass maintains his innocence.

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

Kim Wagner, Bass’ coworker who collected a plastic cup and Coke can he discarded and turned the items in to detectives, leading to Bass’ arrest and ultimate conviction, said she and three others painted the rock for Stavik.

When she and Molly Brighton, Stavik’s older sister, met up for their “20/20” interviews, they had discussed painting the rock, Wagner told The Bellingham Herald. The goal was to paint the rock before Bass’ sentencing, but time got away from them. With the special airing, Wagner said now was just as good a time.

“I was like ‘I’m going to paint the rock. It’s got to get painted for Molly and for everybody.’ It’s something to bring attention to it,” Wagner said.

Wagner said she reached out to a friend, who brought mutual friend Jeni Marr along, and all of them, including Wagner’s husband, painted the boulder yellow and red with the words ‘Justice for Mandy’ scrawled across it Thursday afternoon.

“I wanted it to be bright and to stand out. I did that so it stands out and so the colors contrast each other,” she said.

Wagner said it didn’t take the group long at all to paint the rock, but she recommended bringing a step ladder for anyone else interested in putting up a message. A Facebook page for the rock also changed its cover photo and shared a picture of the message painted for Stavik.

Marr said she was a classmate of Stavik’s and that the teenager disappeared across the street from her house. Marr said she was shy, but that Stavik was always nice to her. She said when a mutual friend reached out about painting the rock in Stavik’s honor, she was in.

“Everything kind of went down very close to home out in Acme,” Marr said.”I’ve been part of this for 30 years in some form. ... I wanted to show Mandy’s family some love.”

Marr met Wagner during Bass’ trial. Marr attended every day, except one, with Bass’ eldest daughter. Marr has been best friends with Bass’ ex-wife, Gina Malone, since grade school. The pair lost touch after high school, but reconnected nearly a decade ago.

Malone, who was originally scheduled to be Bass’ alibi witness, testified against him at trial. She said Bass asked her and his mother if they could blame Stavik’s disappearance and death on his dead father.

“I’ve never painted the rock. I never thought I would be doing something like that,” Marr said. “I just wanted to show support to Mandy’s family. I think that’s the simplest way to put it — is to show love and support to her family and all the friends in our community.”

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.