Crime

Whatcom County jury finds Timothy Bass guilty of murdering Mandy Stavik in 1989

Clerk reads verdict: Timothy Bass guilty in Stavik murder trial

Timothy Forrest Bass was found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 18-year-old Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, May 24, 2019.
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Timothy Forrest Bass was found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 18-year-old Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, May 24, 2019.

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Bass on trial for Stavik’s death

Timothy Bass was convicted in Whatcom County Superior Court for the 1989 murder of Amanda Stavik.

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A jury has found Timothy Forrest Bass guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik nearly 30 years ago.

The jury, made up of six men and six women, reached its verdict Friday, May 24, about 10 a.m. after deliberating a little more than one day. The jury also found Bass guilty of special verdicts of first-degree rape, attempted first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and attempted first-degree kidnapping.

One of the ways to charge first-degree murder in Washington state is if a person commits or attempts to commit the crimes of rape or kidnapping and in the course of those actions, causes the death of another person. The jury was given the option to find Bass guilty of first- or second-degree kidnapping and rape, as well as first- or second-degree attempted kidnapping or rape.

Bass’ sentencing hasn’t yet been set.

A collective sigh was let out when the door was opened to bring the jurors into the courtroom in Whatcom County Superior Court As the court clerk read the verdicts, many people broke into tears and hugged one another.

Bass did not react.

Stavik’s family held hands as the verdict was read. Sheriff Bill Elfo, Undersheriff Jeff Parks and other deputies and detectives with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office lined the back right of the courtroom.

Also in the courtroom were Kim Wagner, Bass’ coworker who obtained DNA evidence; Rick Zender, Stavik’s longtime boyfriend; Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Whatcom medical examiner; and Eric Richey, Whatcom prosecutor.

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Amanda “Mandy” Stavik’s mother Mary Stavik, in blue, and others hug Friday in Whatcom County Superior Court after Timothy Forrest Bass was found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 18-year-old. David Rasbach The Bellingham Herald

Before reading the verdicts, Judge Rob Olson, who presided over the trial, asked those present in the courtroom to attempt to keep their emotions in check out of respect for the jurors, the attorneys, Bass and Stavik’s memory and her family and friends.

“The Americans like to boast. And one of the things we like to boast about is how respected our system of justice is, but our justice system can only be as respectable as it is respected by each of us,” Olson said. “The disappearance and death of Amanda Stavik shook this community 30 years ago, reverberating up to today. Emotions around this case run high. Deep feelings regarding it are felt by many, (undoubtedly) some of whom are in the courtroom today.”

The jury wrote the media a handwritten note, saying that “we the jury entered into our deliberations with a seriousness commensurate with the charges before us. After thorough review of the evidence, we stand behind our verdict.”

Bass’ attorneys declined to comment.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo speaks after a jury found Timothy Forrest Bass guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 18-year-old Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in Whatcom County Superior Court on Friday, May 24, 2019.

On Nov. 24, 1989, Stavik, 18, went for a jog near her home in Clipper, near Acme, and never returned. Her body was found three days later in the south fork of the Nooksack River. She was wearing only her jogging sneakers and socks.

In December 2017, Bass, 51 of Everson, was arrested in connection with Stavik’s 1989 death. Bass’ fellow coworker, Kim Wagner, turned in a plastic cup and Coke can he drank from and discarded. The DNA from those items matched the suspect profile created from evidence taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy.

For the past three weeks, Bass has faced trial for first-degree murder in Whatcom County Superior Court.

In his closing arguments Wednesday, May 22, special prosecuting attorney David McEachran asked the jury to hold Bass accountable.

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Defendant Timothy Bass, far right, listens as court clerk Connie Long, left, reads the jury’s verdict in his trial for first-degree murder Friday in Whatcom County Superior Court. Bass was found guilty of the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of Amanda “Mandy” Stavik.

During testimony, a witness said Bass would attend Stavik’s basketball games to watch her, and numerous witnesses, including Stavik’s and Bass’ family members, said they had never seen the two together.

McEachran said Bass also took steps to cover up what he did, asking his family members to lie or create an alibi for him on three separate occasions.

“There’s no question his DNA is in there. There’s no explanation as to why it is, other than that he was involved in the abduction, the rape and the murder. No other explanation,” McEachran said during his closing arguments.

The defense, meanwhile, said that Bass had a consensual sexual relationship with Stavik prior to her disappearance and that Bass had nothing to do with her death. They also said that Stavik’s death was still a mystery, and the fatal flaw in this case was believing the person who left the DNA evidence inside Stavik was the killer — even eliminating other suspects based solely on the fact their DNA didn’t match.

“All of them were eliminated based on DNA analysis showing the semen did not belong to them. They were all eliminated based on bad science,” public defense attorney Shoshana Paige said during closing arguments.

Thirty years after the murder of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in 1989, Timothy Bass is scheduled to face trial for first-degree murder in May. A reported DNA match led to Bass' arrest in December 2017.

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David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.
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.
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