Crime

After solving Stavik murder, detectives seek help in another of Whatcom’s cold cases

After the 2017 arrest and conviction earlier this year of Timothy Forrest Bass for the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of Amanda “Mandy” Stavik, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office hopes it will get help with another of Whatcom County’s unsolved cold cases.

Sheriff Bill Elfo in a press release urged anyone with information about the 2009 murder of Jeffrey Little to contact the sheriff’s office.

“The sheriff’s office is actively investigating the shooting death of Jeffrey Little and are seeking any information that might help bring this case to a successful conclusion,” Elfo said in a press release this week. “Detectives would especially like to speak to anyone who spoke (to) or saw Little on the day of his death or has knowledge of his activities on July 28, 2009.”

It was on that day at approximately 10 p.m. that deputies responded to the 3100 block of Massey Road near Everson for a report of gunfire, the release stated.

When deputies arrived, they found Little dead in the front seat of his pickup truck, which had been struck by multiple gunshots, the release stated.

The Whatcom County Medical Examiner determined Little, who had just returned home to Everson after working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska, died as a result of three gunshot wounds, according to the release.

The release encouraged anyone with information about the case to contact detective Erik Francis at 360-778-6636 or detective Ken Gates at 360-778-6613.

This is not the first time the sheriff’s office has asked for help in solving the Little case.

In August of 2011, according to Herald archives, detectives released a fuzzy surveillance photo of a man seen outside Herb Niemann’s Steak House in Everson when Little left the restaurant on the night of his death. Detectives hoped the man might have information that could help solve the case.

While Little’s case has remained unsolved for more than 10 years now, the sheriff’s office was able to close another high-profile cold case nearly 30 years after Stavik, 18, first went missing. She was found days later in the south fork of the Nooksack River approximately 3 1/2 miles from her family home in Clipper.

Detectives got the break they needed in the case, when Kim Wagner, a co-worker of Bass’ at the Bellingham Franz Bakery outlet, collected a plastic cup and Coke can that Bass discarded at work and turned them over to detectives. Bass’ DNA was a match to the suspect DNA profile created from evidence taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy nearly 30 years ago.

A jury found Bass, 51, of Everson, guilty May 24 of first-degree murder after a three-week trial. Bass is currently serving a nearly 30-year sentence in the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, according to the Washington State Department of Corrections.

ABC’s two-hour special “20/20” last month profiled Stavik’s disappearance, the investigation and Bass’ murder trial.

Elfo told The Bellingham Herald he felt “20/20” accurately portrayed Stavik’s life and disappearance accurately and telling the story could help solve other cold cases.

“It humanized Mandy and depicted the impact this crime had on her family and the community as a whole,” Elfo told The Bellingham Herald. “It clearly demonstrated how community trust in law enforcement caused citizens to come forward and provide critical information that resulted in the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Timothy Bass.

“I am confident that somewhere in America someone watching that episode will recall suspicions about the death of other victims and feel confident in reporting them to their local law enforcement agency.”

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.
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