Murder victim Amanda "Mandy" Stavik. (Photo: Courtesy of the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office)

A college freshman went out jogging in the middle of the afternoon with her dog, the day after Thanksgiving 1989, in a rural part of northwestern Washington not far from the Canadian border. Five hours later, the dog returned back to her mother’s home—but without the young woman. The family called 911, and a massive search of the area started. After three days, the girl’s nude body was found in the South Fork of the Nooksack River.

But now tips from the public, and a key DNA hit, have led to murder, rape and kidnapping charges for the alleged killer of Mandy Stavik, 28 years later.

Timothy Forrest Bass, now 50, was arrested Tuesday and charged with the three first-degree crimes, and is being held on $1 million bail, said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo this week.

“He’s been a suspect for several years—but he was not a suspect when the crime occurred,” Elfo said in a press conference Wednesday.

Hundreds of persons of interest had been considered in the homicide investigation since the Nov. 27, 1989 discovery of Stavik’s body. Bass’ name emerged from tips that had come into the sheriff’s office over the years. The accused’s DNA was obtained last September—apparently without Bass’s knowledge, since the sheriff said the accused killer only became aware he was a suspect in the Stavik killing when he was arrested.

The match probability of the DNA hit was “1 in 11 quadrillion,” Elfo said, adding that good evidence handling and preservation allowed the new breakthrough in the decades-old cold case.

“The use of DNA in forensic science was relatively new in 1989 and the collection and safe storage over the years made the solving of this horrific crime possible,” the sheriff said. “This matter remains an active criminal investigation and while I know that you likely have many specific questions, I am going to limit my responses so as not to jeopardize the investigative and prosecutorial processes.”

The Bellingham Herald, the local newspaper of record, reported that prosecutors told a judge Wednesday that the DNA sample taken from Bass was submitted by one of his coworkers. Bass worked most recently at a Franz Bakery outlet store in Bellingham, according to the newspaper.

Bass was 22 at the time of the rape and murder, according to the sheriff. The accused lived 1.5 miles away from Stavik at the time, and he has no criminal record—although the newspaper reported that his wife had taken a domestic violence protection order against him in 2010, which was terminated by the woman a few months later.

Amanda Theresa Stavik had graduated from Mount Baker High School, and was in her first year at Central Washington University at the time of her brutal death. She would have been 46 this year, according to the sheriff.

The local authorities are asking for tips on Bass and the Stavik murder, reportable by phone to sheriff’s detectives at (360) 778-6600.