Timeline of the 1989 Mandy Stavik murder case
More from the series
Bass on trial for Stavik’s death
Timothy Bass is on trial in Whatcom County Superior Court for the 1989 murder of Amanda Stavik.
Timothy Forrest Bass, of Everson, is accused in the 1989 alleged abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik of the Acme area.
Bass’ first-degree murder trial began Monday, May 6. Here are the key issues and people you need to know to follow the trial:
People to know at the Bass trial
▪ Prosecution: The team prosecuting Timothy Bass for the alleged abduction, rape and murder of Mandy Stavik includes former longtime Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney David McEachran and Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erik Sigmar.
McEachran, who retired in Dec. 2018 after nearly a half-century in office, is returning as a special prosecutor. McEachran has worked on the Stavik case since 1989 and has prosecuted other high-profile cases, such as the trial of Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, and set the statewide precedent for not guilty by reason of insanity cases.
Sigmar has been with the office for four years and an attorney for more than a decade. He was recently promoted to Chief Criminal Deputy after Eric Richey won the November election for top prosecutor.
▪ Defense: The team defending Timothy Bass for the alleged abduction, rape and murder of Mandy Stavik includes Whatcom County Public Defenders Starck Follis, Shoshana Paige and Stephen Jackson.
Follis has been the director of the public defender’s office for five years and has been an attorney for more than three decades.
Paige, who is a senior deputy public defender, has been with the office since 2006. Jackson, who is also a deputy public defender, has been with the office for five years.
▪ The victim: Amanda “Mandy” Stavik was a 1989 graduate of Mount Baker High School. The 18-year-old was home for Thanksgiving break from Central Washington University when she disappeared while jogging.
Stavik was described as a vivacious and gregarious young woman, played saxophone in band and was an honors student and cheerleader, The Bellingham Herald previously reported. She also played basketball and softball and ran cross-country and track.
Some 900 people attended her memorial service, and a song was created for a scholarship endowed in her name at Mount Baker High. Stavik also worked at the Whatcom Family YMCA.
▪ The defendant: Timothy Forrest Bass, 51, is from Everson. He was a longtime delivery driver for the local Franz Bakery outlet in Bellingham.
Bass lived on the west side of Strand Road in the Acme area, while Mandy Stavik lived on the east side of Strand Road.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office had suspected Bass since at least 2013, according to Sheriff Bill Elfo. Detectives twice contacted him at his home, but he declined to give a voluntary DNA sample.
Detectives then requested permission to collect a DNA sample from his work truck, but Franz denied the request . Bass was then arrested in December 2017 after a fellow coworker gave detectives a plastic cup and Coke can he drank out of.
Bass is facing a first-degree murder charge. 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. There is no statute of limitations for murder.
If convicted, Bass faces up to life in prison.
▪ The judge: Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Rob Olson is presiding over Timothy Bass’ trial.
Olson was appointed to the bench by Gov. Jay Inslee in Aug. 2018 after former Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig died. Olson is one of four Superior Court judges in Whatcom County.
▪ A fellow Franz coworker: A fellow coworker at Franz Bakery learned detectives with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office were investigating Timothy Bass in relation to Mandy Stavik’s death.
After Franz Bakery refused to let detectives swab the inside of Bass’ work truck without a warrant, the coworker collected a plastic cup and Coke can Bass drank out of, put it in a red, plastic Franz bag and turned it in as evidence.
The coworker said she felt a moral obligation to collect and turn in the evidence.
Bass’ DNA matched the suspect profile that was created from evidence taken from Stavik’s body in 1989 during an autopsy, according to court records, and he was arrested in Dec. 2017.
▪ Sheriff Bill Elfo: Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo has met with Mandy Stavik’s mother every year since he became sheriff in 2004.
Elfo has said informing Stavik’s mother they had made an arrest in her daughter’s alleged murder case has been the highlight of his career.
Issues to know about the Stavik case
▪ DNA profile: A suspect DNA profile was created from evidence taken from Mandy Stavik’s body during an autopsy after her death in 1989.
A fellow Franz coworker learned the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office was investigating Timothy Bass in relation to Stavik’s death. After Franz Bakery declined to let detectives swab the inside of Bass’ work vehicle without a warrant, the coworker collected a plastic cup and Coke can Bass drank out of and turned them in.
Bass’ DNA matched the suspect profile, according to court records, leading to his December 2017 arrest. The chance investigators would select a random, unrelated citizen in the U.S. with a matching DNA profile is 1 in 11 quadrillion, according to court records.
Defense attorneys originally filed a motion to suppress the DNA evidence collected by the coworker, but a Whatcom County Superior Court judge ruled in late August 2018 that it could be introduced during trial.
▪ Mandy’s death: On Nov. 24, 1989, Mandy Stavik went for a jog near her home in Clipper, near Acme. She disappeared and three days later, her body was found in the south fork of the Nooksack River, about 3½ miles from her family home. She was found with only her running sneakers and socks on.
Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel found during an autopsy that Stavik had superficial scratches stretching from her thighs to her knees, which could have been caused by running through the brush, according to court records. Goldfogel also found a blood clot on Stavik’s head, records show.
Goldfogel ruled Stavik’s cause of death as drowning, but no determination was made as to her manner of death — whether it was a homicide, suicide or accidental.