Lindsey Wade-DNA Detective-S1 31

Lindsey Wade (lindseywade.org) has just authored a book about her incredible career as a cold case detective with the Tacoma Police Department where she masterfully leveraged the latest advances in DNA technology to solve cases decades old. She now works tirelessly with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office on a sexual assault kit initiative that strives to resolve even more cases with DNA technology. Lindsey joins Crime Redefined to discuss her fascinating career.  Hosted by Dion Mitchell and Mehul Anjaria. A Zero Cliff Media production.

Lindsey Wade-DNA Detective

Unofficial Transcript

 

B=Show Bumpers

DM=Dion Mitchell, Co-host

MA=Mehul Anjaria, Co-host

LW=Lindsey Wade

 

B

Welcome to the crime redefined podcast produced by Zero Cliff Media coming to you from the US Bank tower high above downtown Los Angeles. In our podcast, we drill deep into forensics and criminal investigation from the viewpoint of the defense as well as explore the intersection of the media and the justice system.

 

DM

Hey, crime redefined fans. I’m Dion Mitchell and with me is my co-host, Mehul Anjaria. On this episode of Crime Redefined we are joined by Lindsey Wade, who retired from the Tacoma police department as a cold case detective in 2018, after an illustrious 21 year career, Pretty cool, huh, Mehul?

 

MA

Yeah, but you know, she didn’t really retire. As soon as she was done with Tacoma police department, she immediately started writing a book. And she also began working with the Washington State Attorney General’s office, and she was working on their sexual assault kit initiative. And that’s because it’s it’s pretty clear that her passion is using DNA to solve cold cases. And as a matter of fact, she was instrumental in the 2019 passage of the so-called Jennifer and Michella’s law, which served to expand the types of samples that could be placed into the DNA database, aka CODIS.

 

DM

That’s right. And I guess I’m always impressed when I hear 21 years at anything. It sounds like part of her retirement is she has a new book that’s going to be available soon. And it will be a glimpse into the mind of a brilliant detective and her persistence in solving the most difficult and hideous crimes. Her signature case, if you will, is the disturbing sexual assault and murder of Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian in 1986. in Tacoma, Washington, they were only 12 and 13 years old, respectively. And at the time, Lindsey Wade was just 11 years old.

 

MA

This is a disturbing and fascinating case. And it’s very cool how it got solved eventually, with DNA technology. So we’re going to talk about the case with Lindsey, of course, but we’re not going to necessarily go through the nuts and bolts of it. So I would recommend listeners that after this episode, check out the Dateline episode, entitled, ‘evil was watching’. And it’s all about this case, I think it was from 2019. Lindsay’s in it. And so you could actually go to Lindsay’s website, which is Lindseywade.org,  that’s Lindseywade.org. And she has a link to the full episode. And also on her site, you can see her appearance on ‘on the case with Paula Zahn’, and she’s been on a number of news stories as well.

 

DM

You know, her work was really familiar to me, not necessarily her work, but the case that she was involved in having lived in the northwest for a number of years myself, I’m particularly interested in hearing about Lindsey’s thoughts on Ted Bundy and how she tracked down his DNA. And I’m sure that’s going to be fascinating. As you will hear, Lindsey has been at the forefront of DNA technology using many of the techniques we have discussed on past Crime Redefined episodes.

 

MA

Yeah, it’s definitely going to be this interview will be a good rehash of some of the themes we’ve hit on in the past, but

 

DM

Well, it’s just like real world application type stuff, right? Hey, here’s a, you know, 21 years career, here’s a person who’s on the forefront, you know, the things we’re talking about, boom, here they are using it.

 

MA

Right, this is how to use it in the field. And, you know, along those lines, we haven’t really talked to many detectives on this podcast. So it’s going to be, you know, really cool to hear Lindsey’s take on how the system works, how it doesn’t work, and how she does her job and what her part in this this whole system is. So, I really think that you know, whether listeners, you’re a criminal justice practitioner, or maybe you’re just a fan of true crime and want to know how things are really done, you know, how how investigations are conducted, how DNA and other science is used. I mean, I think you’re really going to enjoy this interview and learn a lot from it. So let’s get to it.

 

DM

Hey, Lindsey, welcome to Crime Redefined today.

 

 

LW

Thanks for having me.

 

DM

Mehul and I are excited to speak with you and hear about your interesting cases and amazing career.

 

LW

Yes, well. It’s been interesting, to say the least

 

MA

Lindsey, let’s kind of go go way back. Take us back to 1986. When you first heard about the murders of Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian, what kind of effect did that have on you personally, when you were a young girl, and you know what kind of effect did that have on the community you know, these terrible murders?

 

LW

Well, you know, I was a young girl, you know, elementary school, I think I was 11 at the time. And so, you know, it’s pretty shocking. And it was, it was pretty terrifying for kids and adults, it really had a pretty significant impact on the community, not just, you know, the, the city of Tacoma, but kind of the surrounding communities as well. And it lasted a very long time. That, you know, the cases went unsolved for over 30 years. So they really, you know, became almost like, urban legend in this area. And, you know, most people that have lived here, for any length of time, you know, knew something about the cases or, you know, had heard about them, and, you know, everybody, and I have their own take on, you know, what kind of an effect the cases have on them personally.

 

DM

Tell us about what were the big factors in those two cases that led everyone to believe that they must have been committed by the same perpetrator?

 

LW

So unfortunately, I can’t talk about the Michella Welch case. At this point. I agreed with the prosecutors that I won’t do any interviews on that case, until it’s resolved. That offender is awaiting trial. You know, I’m sure you guys can piece together the information that’s already out there in the media, about, you know, why we thought the cases were related. But I just, I can’t speak about her case at this point.

 

MA

Yeah, yeah. Fair enough. And we’ll come back to that case a little bit, you know, in in general terms, but I want to pick up Lindsey on your trajectory towards a career in law enforcement. Tell us a little bit about where you were in life when you first picked up the stranger beside me by Anne Rule. And, you know, what drew you to that book? What did you take from that? And, you know, what did that book mean to you?

 

LW

Well, I was in high school, and, you know, when I read that book, it, it definitely kind of set me on my path towards becoming a police officer, and eventually a detective. You know, that book really scared the shit out of me to be I, it was just unbelievable. And the fact that it, you know, a lot of it happened near where I lived, and you know, that Ted Bundy was from Tacoma, and, you know, all these things were just so fascinating to me. And, you know, that was the first time that I really read about, you know, police investigations, and I was just absolutely fascinated. And not only was I fascinated with the investigative part, you know, it also just absolutely floored me that, you know, somebody like him could be so successful and, you know, operate for as long as he did, and, you know, that he just pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. And, you know, people just absolutely could not believe that he would be capable of the crimes that he committed. And, and so, you know, I just think there were so many different elements about that book that stuck with me. And really, you know, from from that point on, I just kind of knew that, you know, that’s what I wanted to do with my life was, you know, be a detective.

 

DM

Let me build on that a little bit, tell us about your career in law enforcement. But what were your first impressions of the job? While you’re at the academy? And then when you first went on patrol?

 

LW

Oh, okay. So the police academy was, you know, that’s your first stop. And so that was, at that time, a three-month period. And, you know, really, the police academy is like drinking from a firehose, I mean, you’re trying to learn everything, you’re trying to learn laws, and you’re trying to learn, you know, Criminal Procedure, and how to do traffic stops, and how to, you know, how to handcuff somebody. And, you know, there’s just so much that, you know, when you get out of the Academy, and, I mean, I can clearly remember my first day on the street. And, you know, just, I was 22 years old by that point. And I just, I just remember thinking, this is crazy, like, I, I mean, I really have no idea what I’m doing. And, I mean, honestly, nobody does when they come out of the Academy, you know, and that’s why you have a training officer and, you know, you you ride with a training officer for several months before you’re on your own and, you know, even then, I mean, I think for most officers, you know, it takes several years before you really, you know, feel confident in yourself. In your abilities, you know, to handle pretty much any situation that gets thrown at you. I mean, when you think about most jobs, you have kind of a set parameter and set parameters of what your duties are. When you’re a police officer. I mean, it’s like anything goes, I mean, you know, your day is not dictated by you, you have no control over what happens. And you’re expected to be an expert in about 100 different things. And so it’s, it’s challenging. And it’s, you know, it’s an exciting job. It’s a job like, no other I would say. But, you know, I did enjoy my time as a patrol officer, I spent about five years in patrol, and then made a short transfer to narcotics, I spent about a year there. And I was on the detective list when I was in narcotics. And so I ended up getting promoted. A little after a year of being there to detective.

 

 

DM

Did that switch to narcotics, Was that something you wanted to do? Or just came organically?

 

LW

It was something I wanted to do. I knew it was a good steppingstone for becoming a detective.

 

DM

Which is which that was your obviously your endgame. And the other quick follow up question. You mentioned the Academy is, was your training that was three months? correct?

 

LW

Yes.

 

DM

Is that something just that you feel? having gone through it that should be longer? You know, four months, five months, six months, or longer

 

LW

Now it is actually six months currently, but you know, when I went through, it was three months.

 

MA

So I want to go back to Ted Bundy. So once you became a detective, I understand that you were interested in getting Ted Bundy’s DNA profile into CODIS, could you walk us through a little bit about how you went about doing that, and what some of the roadblocks were?

 

LW

Sure. So in 2011, I was working with my then partner, Gene Miller, and he was the cold case detective for our agency at that time. And we had been discussing the Ann Marie Burr  case, which is the oldest cold case, in Tacoma. It happened in 1961. And, you know, a lot of people have believed over the years that perhaps, Ann Marie Burr might be, you know, Ted Bundy’s, first victim. And so, you know, we knew that, but at the same time, there was really nothing in the case that linked him to the crime. And so, kind of, during our early discussions about the case, we started talking about suspects. And, of course, Bundy’s name came up and, and I started, you know, kind of wondering, Well, you know, if, in fact, we do you have any testable evidence in this case, are we going to have anybody to compare it to, and so that kind of started me on my journey of researching, Bundy, and, you know, striking out all over the place when I was searching for his DNA. And, you know, it wasn’t in Washington, I couldn’t find it at the medical examiner’s office where he was executed, and finally ended up getting in contact with the Florida Department of law enforcement crime lab and talking to their CODIS manager. And, you know, he, and I just sort of put our heads together, because, you know, he had been asked the same question multiple times. And, you know, the answer was always No, you know, we don’t have it. And so, you know, we kind of brainstormed and thought about, well, you know, how could we find his DNA? And so I kind of went on my journey in Washington, tracking down leads, which, you know, ultimately led me to an Ann Rule. And, you know, she was able to provide me with some letters and envelopes from letters that he had written to her when he was in jail, and prison. And so I thought, well, you know, maybe there’s a possibility I could get his DNA from the stamps on the letters. And so that was kind of one avenue of investigation. And then David Coffman, the CODIS manager down in Florida. He kind of went on his own path. And so I guess they have kind of a Bundy Museum at the crime lab down there. And so he looked at some items that were in the lab. But you know, couldn’t get a usable profile. And so, he could, you know, continued on with his search and he actually ended up finding I think it was two blood vials in the I believe it was the Columbia County Clerk’s office. And these vials had been collected from Bundy in 1978. Shortly after he was arrested, and, you know, the vial the blood itself, the liquid blood was no good. It was, you know, completely putrified. Luckily, there was dried blood on the lid of the the vials. And so he was able to his lab was able to generate a full profile from that and get it uploaded into Florida’s DNA database, which was a great start, but then that’s, you know, I was told that’s where it was gonna stay, because Bundy didn’t meet the criteria to go into the national database. And I was like, wait a minute.

 

DM

After all that,

 

LW

yeah, like, I mean, it’s great that he’s going into Florida. I mean, right? murders across the country, how can his DNA only reside in Florida’s database, that makes no sense. And so there was a conversation that took place with the NDIS custodian, that, you know, the FBI to try to figure out how to rectify the situation. And eventually, it was decided that he would go into national in the legal index. And so that’s where he sits currently. And so now his profile, you know, can be searched against profiles from, you know, all the other state databases as well.

 

DM

That’s a good segue to my next question. And besides the case that you just mentioned, are there other murders you’re convinced Bundy is responsible for? And if so, Which ones?

 

LW

I can’t say I’m convinced of any, because I know there aren’t any that it’s just like, Oh, for sure. There’s so much evidence overwhelmingly, it’s him. Not one that I know of. I know that there are, you know, certainly cases that people suspect him of. And I have no doubt that he’s committed way more murders than we know about. You know, he confessed to 30 right before he was executed. And 11 of those were in Washington, but only eight of those victims have been identified. So, I mean, we know he committed more murders. But, you know, I don’t know, you know, if we’ll ever link him to those cases, I hope, I hope this at some point, he is linked by, you know, scientific methods, but at this point, you know, there are, it’s hard to say,

 

DM

yeah, it was that was my next question is what do you think just personally, what do you think his real number is?

 

LW

I don’t know. Um, you know, I’ve heard all the, you know, triple digit stuff. And I mean, I don’t know, it’s hard to say, I mean, it is strange, that he would have, you know, starting his killing career in his 20s, it seems, you know, pretty late for somebody like him to have started killing. But I just don’t think that we’ll ever know, why , I know we won’t ever know his history or number. But I think it’s, you know, far more than 30.

 

MA

Well, Lindsey, in researching your career, I learned about, I think, for the first time, the phenomenon of these so-called civil commitment centers, such as the one on McNeil Island on Puget Sound. And I actually had never heard of this concept before. Can you explain to our listeners a little bit about the history of these centers, what their purpose is, and then, you know, moving into what your specific interest was, with regards to them and collecting DNA?

 

LW

Sure. So there are 22 states in the United States that have civil commitment laws. And what that means is, an offender who is deemed to be a sexually violent predator can be detained civilly for an indeterminate amount of time after they serve their prison sentence. So basically, the state deems them too dangerous to be released out into the community when they’re done with prison, and so instead of being released, they get detained. And then they go through a trial. And then well, you know, if they’re, if they are found to meet the definition of being a sexually violent predator than they are detained at this facility, and so in Washington, we have a place called the special commitment center, and it’s on McNeil Island, and offenders who are found to be sexually violent predators and those who are pending trial. So those that are just detained waiting to be tried for this can be held out there and it’s a secured facility. You know, they can’t leave If so, you know, since the program started, I believe they’ve had well over 400 sexually violent predators that have gone through the island. The program started in 1990, I believe, here in Washington and back again, 2011. It was my year, I guess. 2011, I was working on a cold case. And I was in contact with Department of Corrections on a pretty regular basis, because, you know, get records from them on different things. And I started asking some questions about the special commitment center. And specifically about, you know, whether or not all the sex predators on the island had their DNA in CODIS. And I never really, you know, got an answer initially. And once they did some research, they figured out that actually, no, the answer is no. And a lot of the offenders out there had never had their DNA collected. So I was, it ended up being over 40. people out there who had not had their DNA collected. And so that was a, you know, a well over a year, probably closer to two-year long project, working with the special commitment center staff, and the State Patrol crime lab, to get those individuals DNA collected. And then, you know, there was one person who refused, and so we had to take them to court. And so it took a while, but eventually, all the samples were collected from these guys, and some of them had been out there since the 90s. And probably would never be released, you know, because of their history. And so once all the samples were collected and uploaded into CODIS, they ended up actually getting a hit on one of the guys. And his name is Michael Halgren. And he was I think at the special commitment center since 2001. And he and he had come there from prison. And he hit to a 1980 murder case, and have a like a 19 year old woman in Bellevue, Washington, which is a city north of Tacoma. And so that was really exciting. Because I mean, I really thought, oh, gosh, you know, that we’re going to like, there’s going to be some CODIS hits out of this, for sure, these guys are the worst of the worst in Washington. And, you know, sure enough, one of them hit to this, this murder case. And when I spoke to the detective, who was investigating that case, he had been investigating that case for 12 years, you know, dozens of DNA samples from suspects, and you know, never made any headway on the case. And then one day, he comes into work, and he’s got this crime lab report in his box that says, there’s a hit on this cold case, you know, and he had no idea why they had came in. And so when I called them up and told him about the project, and he was, he was pretty excited.

 

DM

I can’t imagine what that feeling must be like, as, you know, if you’re working a cold case, like all of a sudden, you’re like you said you’ve been, you know, putting in the time and energy in. And then he walks in, and then like, boom, it’s laying on his desk.

 

LW

Yeah, yeah. And a name that he had never heard before. I mean, he was not in the case file. He wasn’t, you know, a person of interest. And so, you know, it was it was a shock. But, you know, it was it was just amazing. And he was, he was kind enough to let me go with him to make the arrest out on the Island and bring the guy back to be booked in for the murder.

 

DM

I guess however gets done. Right. No matter how you get there, as long as you get there, right?

 

LW

Yes, exactly.

 

DM

You know, going back to the Michella and Welch in the Jennifer Bastian cases. And it seems like you’re really on the forefront of a lot of this tech DNA technology. There was such an interesting use of everything new in DNA techniques, such as early genetic genealogy, DNA phenotyping, and, of course, more advanced genetic genealogy. When you were a detective, how did that how is it that you became aware of these tools and that you stayed on top of all of them, especially since they were kind of like growing really by the day?

LW

Right? I just I made it a point to really try to stay on top of anything, any kind of forensic technology. I’ve always been really interested in DNA. And so I just kind of made it my mission to build relationships. with people that are much smarter than me, and so, you know, So it’s like I, you know, just sort of have created this network of people that I really was able to learn from over the years and ask a ton of questions. Whether it was, you know, with somebody from the crime lab, or, you know, forensic anthropologist, or, you know, I’ve got a good friend who’s a, you know, a DNA expert. And so, it’s, you know, it’s been helpful to cultivate those relationships, and then, you know, stay on top of it by going to trainings and talking with detectives. And really, you know, that’s how I first learned about genetic genealogy was talking to a detective in Phoenix, who, you know, told me about the canal murders and the surname search that Colleen Fitzpatrick had done. And, and that was in 2015. And, you know, when I heard that, I was like, Oh, I got to do this. And so, you know, ultimately, that’s what led to the arrest. And then the Jennifer Bastian case, of course, was that surname. And, you know, that was, you know, one of the surnames that Colleen had provided me with Washburn, and that turned out to be, you know, my suspect’s last name. So, um, you know, just, it’s amazing how fast just from 2015 to 20, you know, well, even Yeah, to now to 2021, how quickly the technology has changed, and the M-Vac, I mean, I thought, and that was, like, you know, the next coming of Christ. And then, you know, all of a sudden, you know, now there’s genetic genealogy, and you know, that, you know, it’s been one thing after the other, and it’s just such an exciting time for anyone working cold cases, because, I mean, I can remember for years, I, there are so many cases that I worked on for years. And I mean, I, I mean, I spent hundreds of hours on these cases, I submitted, you know, dozens and dozens of pieces of evidence to the crime lab, to the point where I’m sure the lab was so tired of me calling. And never made a dent, you know, never advanced the cases forward. And it was so frustrating. And, you know, as a cold case, Detective, that’s the majority of your day, that’s the majority of your week, and your month, and your year is, it’s like swimming upstream. And so when this new technology came along, at least for those cases, where there is DNA, it’s been a game changer, as you know, these cases that were previously thought to be unsolvable, you know, now, you know, you can get answers. It’s, it doesn’t help for those cases where you don’t have DNA. And I would say, most cold cases do not have DNA. And so it’s, it’s still really hard for those families that are waiting for answers. And they, you know, their case doesn’t have, you know, can’t be worked with genetic genealogy, or, you know, people think it’s kind of like, a slot machine, or like the magic button, right? It really isn’t. You know, those cases are few and far between. And so that, you know, I think that right now, there seems to be such a great interest in, in the public with cold cases. And so I think that’s really great. Because I’m, you know, I think that’s going to help kind of keep that energy going and help kind of keep the momentum. And, you know, a lot of agencies don’t have resources, and they don’t have people to work. They’re cold cases. And so they just are, you know, they’re languishing. They’re sitting on a shelf collecting dust. And so I think that because of all the interest that’s out there, you know, I think that it will help to, you know, also, hopefully, have these agencies put some resources towards it, right.

 

 

DM

You must really think, like, for the cases where there is DNA, you must look back and go, Oh, my God, what were we doing before these technologies? Were here? I mean, you were literally feeling around the dark.

 

LW

Yeah

 

DM

Did this make you because of you are really staying on top of us within the department. Did this kind of making you use kind of a baseball term, like a closer was like, like a rock star, everybody that had a DNA in their case where they all coming to you for your, for your help, and for your input?

 

LW

Not really, no Yeah, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say that. I mean, people would ask me questions, but I no, I don’t think so. It wasn’t that way, although now working at the attorney general’s office, and, you know, of course, now I have access to cases statewide. And so, you know, I have done some case reviews for other agencies and, you know, looked at their cold cases. And so, you know, I am able to kind of utilize those skills and to help people, you know, other than just Tacoma cases, but cases all around the state of Washington, which has been nice.

 

MA

Well, Lindsay, other than the the almighty gold standard that DNA is, what would you say, is the most the the next most powerful tool that you would have is a cold case detective?

 

LW

Time, I mean, you have time, and you know, relationships change. And, you know, this, that person that might not have wanted to talk 20 years ago, because of a relationship they had, that relationship may no longer be in existence. So, or, you know, their, their life has changed. And, and so they, you know, they just feel differently about the situation. So I think time is a benefit, and it’s something that can help with cold cases. And the fact that you have time as a detective, you know, when you’re working a fresh murder case, you you’re on the clock, you’re, you know, the clock is ticking, there’s a lot of pressure to solve the case quickly. But with a cold case, you don’t have that pressure, you have time to sit back and focus and come up with a game plan and look at the case from different angles. And that’s not a luxury that you have with a fresh case.

 

MA

Yeah, and then I suppose another emerging tool is actually the media and podcasts, you know, just kind of waking people up to getting interested in it. And maybe people are crawling out of the woodwork. And we hear how that is now invigorating, a lot of these investigations. It’s almost like a crowdsourcing approach to it.

LW

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, people are interested. And you know, they’re talking about these cases. And they’re, you know, you’ve got the web sleuth community and, you know, people doing their own research and, you know, it’s, there’s just, it’s a lot more visible than it used to be.

 

DM

Yeah, you’ve just got a lot of eyeballs, you know, looking at these cases now. Tell us about the time period around your retirement from Tacoma PD, what was the status of the Bastian-Welch investigation? And then kind of walk us through the case breakthrough that happened shortly after your retirement?

 

LW

Yeah. So I, you know, 20, kind of the beginning of 2018, I had been approached by the attorney general’s office, about a grant that they had received, and this position that was going to be coming available as an investigator working on the statewide sexual assault kit initiative. And, you know, at that point, I, you know, I gave it a lot of thought, and, you know, I decided that I was ready to make a change and do something different, and, you know, to be to retire from law enforcement, you know, by that point, I’ve been on for 21 years. And so, I decided that I was going to go ahead and do it. And I had been, you know, in the years, couple years prior to that, doing a ton of work on those cases. And it collected about 160 DNA samples from, you know, potential suspects. And those cases, you know, those samples were being sent off to the lab in small batches, for testing, and so January of 2018, I had sent off the last batch of samples to the crime lab, knowing full well, you know, it’d be a few months before they the results came back. But I really, I mean, I had no hope at that point that, you know, any of them were going to result in a hit, you know, all of the ones in my mind that I thought looked really good, had already come back, not a match. And so, you know, when I left, I had kind of this To Do List of, you know, all these different things that were pending at the lab that I had handed off to my coworker that took over for me, and it just, you know, I was, I was sad, in a sense to be leaving and, and really that, you know, one of the hardest things was was telling Jennifer Bastian’s mom that I was leaving, because we’d become really close. And, you know, she knew that I had put a lot of time into working on her daughter’s case. So that was one of the hardest things. But you know, I kind of in the back of my mind was thinking, Well, I’m going to be doing all this work with DNA for the the Attorney General’s office. And so, you know, I think there’s still hope that at some point, you know, these cases will still be solved, you know, maybe it’ll be as a result of, you know, the sexual assault kit, testing, who knows? So that was sort of, you know, that was it for me. I mean, I left, retired in April of 2018. And went to work for the attorney general’s office. And it was less than a month later, I think it was, like, 25 days later, I get a call from the detective who replaced me in the cold case unit, telling me that he had gotten a hit on the Jennifer Bastian case. And it was, you know, one of the last one of the guys that was in that last batch of samples that I had submitted in January. And so, you know, it was, it was overwhelming.

 

 

 

DM

Well, do you mind if I ask where you were at, or what you were doing when you got the call?

 

LW

Yeah, I was at home, I was working from home. And, you know, when he called me, you know, I just, I couldn’t even respond initially, I was just so overwhelmed. And then, you know, I asked him who, you know, what’s the name? Who is it, and he told me, and then, you know, I knew exactly who it was when he told me the name Washburn, but, you know, Washburn, he wasn’t really, he didn’t look like a really good suspect. On paper. He, the only reason that I even included him in my list of people to get samples from was because of his last name. But you know, everybody else that I had collected from at that point, were people that I had kind of deemed higher priority based on, you know, their criminal history, mainly, and this guy, you know, he really didn’t have anything that stood out at all. And he really was only, you know, collected from because of his last name. So anyway, it was, it was just overwhelming. And even more difficult was that I had to wait two days to tell Patty Bastian about the hit, because of course, we wanted to keep it under wraps until he was in custody. And he was out of state. And so detectives had to fly to Illinois to arrest him. And then as soon as he was in custody, then I got to go knock on Patti’s door, and tell her the news. And so that was pretty, it was the best day of my career without a doubt hands down.

 

MA

You know, and I guess along those lines, Lindsay, you probably never can truly retire. Because this is going to continue to happen, that cases that you worked 20 or 30 years ago, whatever, they’re gonna continue to get solved and suck you back in and and i’m sure along those lines, you’ve built other relationships with family members, and it just would imagine it’s gonna stay a part of you for the rest of your days.

 

LW

Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s hard. Because, you know, this the cases, I think, I think more about the cases that I didn’t solve more than the cases that I that I did solve, and, you know, this this case is, I mean, they keep me up at night. Because, you know, as a detective, I mean, you take those cases, personally, and, you know, you, you do build a relationship with family members. And but you also, you know, have just a personal stake in the case. And so, it is hard. And, you know, for ask any homicide detective, and when they retire, you know, the hardest thing for them to do when they retire is to have any open cases left, because it’s just, you know, you feel like you just didn’t do your job.

 

MA

Well, kind of continuing with the more personal questions. I read a fantastic blog post on your website, entitled, ‘I am me’. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write that, and what its meaning is, particularly through the lens of today, you know, with the tough times for race relations, and of course, police-community relations.

 

LW

Yeah, you know, I mean, I, when I wrote that it was, you know, kind of, I think, maybe it was right after George Floyd, but, you know, things have just become just so polarizing. And I kind of feel like I’m sort of stuck in the middle, you know, because I am a black female, but I’m also, you know, a former police officer, you know, my husband’s a police officer. And, you know, it’s, I understand both sides. And so I, you know, sometimes feel like I’m sort of stuck in the middle, and so that’s, that’s kind of where that poem came from as is, you know, I just had all these thoughts and all these feelings. And, you know, for me, the way that I like to express my feelings is to write things. And so, you know, that’s, that’s where that came from.

 

DM

I guess it’s kind of a good segue, I want to wish you congratulations, I understand that you’re a new author.

 

LW

Yes. So I, I started writing my book shortly after I retired. And, at this point, just working with my, my agent on a, you know, trying to figure out how we’re going to get it published. So it’s been a very long road, I know nothing about, you know, the publishing industry or the literary world. And so it’s been a huge learning curve for me. You know, I’m used to writing police reports, where it’s like, who, when, what, where, you know, why, and how, and that’s it, you don’t add your, your opinion. And you don’t add your feelings, for sure. And so, writing a book that somebody wants to read, is quite different than, you know, the style of writing that I’m used to. So it’s been challenging, but also a lot of fun, to be able to actually, you know, get my thoughts and feelings down on paper and, and to share, you know, some of the interesting cases that I worked on in my career,

 

DM

that’s really interesting, and makes me think, tell us, can you tell me just share with our listeners just a little bit about the process? Because that’s a, that’s a big transition that you just mentioned. So how do you go from reports to basically entertainment? So how did you like, you carve out a space in your house? And how did you make that transition?

 

LW

So I, I think, when I was writing the book for print, most of the time, I literally just, you know, had a desk in my living room. And I would write after my family went to bed. So I just had, you know, peace and quiet. It, you know, early on, I actually hired a book coach, and that was the best thing I could have done, because she really helped kind of shape the way that I was writing and, and move it from, okay, just, you know, getting all the facts down, versus, you know, What did it look like? What did it smell like? What did it feel like?, you know, let’s add some color, you know, all the things that I was that, you know, it was like, beat into me, as a, you know, a police officer, you know, you don’t write that stuff. It just took a long time to write it, even though I was used to reading books, and I knew what I liked to read, it was hard to write it. And so, you know, it took it took a lot of editing a lot of back and forth, a lot of track changes with my book coach, but she really did help push me to get add more of that flavor. And, you know, add the life into the story. And, and then when I found my agent, you know, she also helped me with that considerably. And so, you know, it’s been great working with people that are professional writers. And you know, I am not a professional writer, I am, you know, I’m, I guess I’m a subject matter expert that’s writing about my subject matter. And so, it’s been great to have those people that are experts in that, and their craft helped me along the way.

 

MA

Lindsay, you’ve also been a very strong and excellent advocate for the expansion of these DNA databases. Can you describe for us a little bit about the work you did in developing, promoting and eventually executing Jennifer and Michella’s law?

 

LW

Yeah, so um, I worked really closely with Washington State Representative Tina Orwall. And she’s been a big proponent of sexual assault reform and a lot of the legislation that’s occurred in Washington since 2015 related to sexual assaults, and, you know, victims of sexual assault and really, you know, helping survivors get justice. And so I was able to work with her and, gosh, we went, I think it took four years of advocating before we finally got that bill passed into law. And it was it was hard. You know, Patti Bastian was a huge advocate. And she would come down to Olympia and testify. I would go down and testify. And it was finally you know, in 2019, and we finally had enough backing and support to get that law passed. And, you know, it was fantastic, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s much needed, and I think it’s so great to have you know, something -a law. especially related to DNA, you know, in the name of those two girls, because, you know, they should never be forgotten. And I think, you know, DNA is such a powerful tool. And we assume, I think a lot of people assume that because the DNA laws have been around for so long, that the system really works, and that people’s DNA does actually get collected when they go to prison, and it gets put into CODIS. But, you know, it’s, that’s not always the case. And so, you know, for me, and I’m always looking for ways to kind of fix some of the loopholes, when it comes to DNA related laws.

 

DM

You know, I want to take advantage, Lindsey, of our unique opportunity to speak with you. And your background, you’re such an accomplished detective, and I really excited to kind of ask this question, walk us through, what are the initial steps in a cold case investigation? So a detective picks up a binder on a case and he or she is hoping to rekindle. What are those first steps out of the gate to kind of fire things up?

 

LW

Read the case, you know, the first thing you want to do is, you know, I guess even before you read it is you want to look to make sure you have everything and you know, with cold cases, especially, you know, you’ll find that there might be documents at the prosecutor’s office, or the crime lab or the medical examiner’s office, or the property room that are not in the binder. So, it’s really important to make sure you have everything to start with. And then to read it over. And you know, usually more than once, and I’m a big sticky note, component or proponent. And so, you know, I, for me, I would read through the book first just and then go back a second time and read it and make sticky note. And, you know, make notes for myself on things that I found interesting things I wanted to go back to things I wanted to look into. And then, you know, you kind of have to figure out, Where’s everybody at? You’ve got all these people listed in the in the case? Are they alive? Are they dead? Are they in prison? Did they move to Oklahoma? You know, you got to figure out where these people are? And you know, are you going to be able to locate them? And then, you know, really, really importantly, for me, especially since I always kind of focused on the forensic side was, what about the evidence? You know, what kind of evidence was collected? Is it still maintained? And what can we do with that evidence today that couldn’t, you know, that couldn’t have been done when the crime was committed? And so, you know, one of the things that I always find interesting is, sometimes I’ll hear, you know, detectives say, Well, you know, yeah, they did DNA testing already. And they didn’t find anything. Okay, well, if they didn’t do DNA testing within the last, like, five years, they need, So I, when people tell me that I just like, yeah, okay, I’m gonna, let’s take another look. But, you know, and, you know, it’s not just DNA, I mean, heck, you know, with next generation fingerprinting, they’re solving all kinds of cases now, with, with that technology, because a lot of these fingerprints haven’t been looked at in these cases for decades. And so, you know, that’s really been a game changer for some of these cold cases. But I think it’s, you know, just important to look at everything, you know, and because with cold cases, you weren’t there, you weren’t part of the investigation originally, you know, it’s important to go back to the crime scene, it’s important to talk to everybody. And you know, in some cases, you know, I’ll even go back and talk to the medical examiner, and have them really explain to me like, how did you come up with this? You know, or how did the medical examiner from that time, come up with this determination? Because I don’t really understand it. I think the biggest mistake that a detective can make is not asking questions. And I think sometimes people hesitate to ask questions because they feel like it, you know, might undermine them somehow, or, you know, make it seem like they don’t know what they’re doing. But I think it’s the complete opposite. You got to you know, you got to ask questions and keep asking questions, because that’s how you learn.

 

MA

Well, interestingly, in some of the missing persons cases, it seems like at least on rare occasion, the individual is actually missing on purpose. And I think there is a term like runner or ghosting or something like that. When you have that type of situation, what are some of the telltale signs that someone who is labeled as a missing person actually intended to fall off the grid and disappear?

 

LW

Um,gosh, you know, I mean, I had a few cases where, you know, someone intentionally took off and actually committed suicide. But they just were, you know, kind of identified as a missing person for a long period of time until they were found. I can’t say that I’ve had any experience with somebody that just decided, like, I’m going to start a new life and go move to, you know, some other place and change my identity. So I haven’t dealt with that myself. But, I mean, it certainly happens.

 

MA

So it truly, truly is a rare phenomenon.

 

LW

I think so yeah. I mean, I did, I worked missing persons for quite a few years. And I mean, I can’t say that I ever came across that there were definitely people that got reported missing, who, I mean, they weren’t intending to, like, hide from people, but they just, you know, they lived a lifestyle that didn’t really like, they just, you know, sometimes people don’t keep in contact with their relatives or their or their, you know, their loved ones, because of their lifestyle, especially if they’re living a high-risk lifestyle. Or, you know, if they’re in a relationship that doesn’t allow for that. So, you know, there certainly are times when people get reported missing, that, you know, they just, they’re fine. You know, once once they’re, they’re located but they just intentionally weren’t keeping in contact.

 

DM

But you, but you think it’s a kind of a rare, like, if someone you know, ghosting themselves, you think it’s actually pretty rare.

 

LW

I have not seen that, personally.

 

DM

Well, so we’ll I guess we’ll start to wrap it up a little bit. It’s only fair that we ask you to tell us about your podcast, and to talk about the, your cold case podcast.

 

LW

Yeah, so we haven’t recorded a new episode in in quite a while. But I started the podcast with a friend of mine named Mike McCann, who is also working on a book about Ted Bundy. And so we decided to kind of focus on cold cases, both solved and unsolved. And to, you know, try to focus on, you know, interviewing some of the experts within the field. So, you know, we interviewed Colleen Fitzpatrick in one episode, and we interviewed our state forensic anthropologist, and, you know, we just thought the listeners, aside from just, you know, telling stories about cases would be interested to hear from, you know, some of the really phenomenal people that do the work, oftentimes behind the scenes on some of these cases.

 

DM

We enjoyed it. I enjoyed listening to it. Where can they? Where can our listeners find it?

 

 

LW

And so it’s the podcast is called ‘anatomy of a cold case’, and it’s on Apple, , Spotify, Anchor, and I don’t know, wherever you find your podcasts.

 

DM

That’s enough places I think.

 

MA

Well, Lindsey, we learned a lot today. Thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.

 

LW

Yes, well, thank you. appreciate you having me on.

 

MA

Yeah, you bet. And, you know, best of luck to you with the book and you know, whatever it is, whatever else it is you decide to conquer.

 

LW

Thank you.

 

MA

Well, Dion, I get the feeling that now that Ted Bundy’s DNA is in the database that eventually he’s going to be linked, you know, with DNA to many more cases. And obviously, the the evidence is quite old in those cases from the 70s. But people aren’t gonna lose interest in them. And if some of that evidence still exists, you know, now that the DNA testing methods are improving, there’s going to be a greater and greater chance that they can get usable DNA. And there’s just bound to be more hits. And, you know, I wanted to touch on something I want to get technical here just for a minute, but Lindsey was talking about how it was very hard to get a sample of Ted Bundy’s DNA, and eventually they found this vial of blood in the court clerk’s office. Well, guess what, if it’s at the court clerk’s office, it’s not refrigerated obviously. So as she said, you know, the DNA from the liquid blood was no good, it was all putrefied but there was dried blood still somewhere on that vial. And that gave a full profile. So you know, dried blood stains, even if they’re stored at room temperature, or even worse, they’re gonna give you DNA for years and years and years. This is precisely why this is the preferred method of storing DNA from blood, you put it onto a card, you make a dried stain and you freeze it. So Dion, did you get your Ted Bundy questions answered?

 

DM

Yes, no and maybe well, I tried it a couple of times to get her to bite on a couple of questions. But she being a smart detective….didn’t bite

 

MA

She’s still a detective after all…

DM

One quick comment is that I found her or her comment was interesting about the Ted Bundy shrine. But the the Florida the Florida was it Dade County?

 

MA

The Ted Bundy Museum?

 

DM

Yeah, the museum actually had like a sign or a shrine or a museum setup for him because there was so much material, which goes to actually my comment, one of the questions I couldn’t get her to bite on is, what’s his real number? I mean, I don’t think it’s 30, or whatever she mentioned. It was I think it’s a lot more I was having deja vu visions of H. H. Holmes, that I think that there’s no incentive for Ted Bundy to give any kind of a real number, but I would guess it’s at least well over 50 you can’t be doing what he was doing for that long across the United States in that time period without DNA, and these other forensic techniques, and have the number. You know, be in my opinion, unfortunately, that that low? I think it’s a lot more, I think, yeah.

 

MA

Yeah. And as a serial killer. You know, you’re constantly trying to deceive the cops. So when you get caught, you know, I don’t think that ends, you know, you’re still gonna toy with them. Oh, was it 30 people? Was it 100?

 

DM

Look, we’re still keeping the legacy living on? We’re still talking about him. Right.?

 

MA

You know what, dummies like us are still talking about it. Right?

 

DM

We are still making movies about Ted Bundy, perhaps he is getting the last laugh.

 

MA

You’re right. Right, exactly. But, you know, she was very dogged with DNA in all her cases, you know, historical ones, Ted Bundy, and current ones. And it was really great to see detective who’s so up to date on the latest DNA trends. And she gave the example when she you know, would when she cracks open a cold case, first thing to do is go talk to the people who worked at originally go talk to the medical examiner…

 

DM

I love that breakdown that was inside baseball for me. hey, how do you? What do you do to get started on this? you know, some of that stuff is logical, hey, do this. But I was really cool to hear it right from a veteran detective, you know

MA

What struck me is that it’s essentially the same operation, when you’re looking at a case post-conviction, because you’re looking at it with the eyes that they did not convict the right person. So it’s now a cold case again. So if you’re trying to exonerate somebody, it’s obviously best to solve the case at the same time. So all these steps she was talking about, sounded very familiar to me looking at cases from a post-conviction posture. So it’s kind of funny how the two worlds in that regard intersect.

 

DM

But it’s a goal in mind. You may be on different teams. It’s the same get the right guy or girl,

 

MA

It’s an unsolved case. Anyway you, look at it. what struck me is she was talking about she went and talked to the detective. In this one particular case. He said, Oh, yeah, we tried DNA. And you know, it was a dead end. And she asked, Well, how long ago, you know, five years? Well, Gosh, that’s ancient history now in, DNA technology. So there’s the Lindsey’s out there. But I think the detective that she described, you know, just saying, Hey, we did DNA, and that’s enough, that’s probably more reflective, where most law enforcement is actually

 

DM

I checked a DNA box there’s nothing to see here. Let’s move along on to something else, you know, something that maybe they unfortunately, you know, I don’t mean this as a dig that they understand. Right?

 

MA

Well, yeah, yeah, for sure. And, of course, when DNA was brand new, it was just over everybody’s had. And we can’t really say that DNA is a new technology, but the way that it’s used is constantly new, every two years or something, we have these dramatic breakthroughs. So I don’t know how many Lindsey’s there are out there.

 

DM

Well, let’s also break that down even further. So let’s say there. Let’s say there’s a new DNA technique doesn’t come up for a number of years, but let’s just stay with genetic genealogy. there’s going to be more people uploading it. So even for that alone, you need to keep going back and tasting it because you may get a familial hit, right? Or, because every year those that database is expanding.

 

MA

Well, it’s true and even and I’ll kind of run a parallel with attorneys. You know, a lot of attorneys they might have went 10, 15,20 years without ever seeing DNA in a case. Part of that is because when DNA was first used, it was clunky and expensive. It was only used in the most serious cases. Well, now I mean, if it’s a you know, somebody who’s jaywalking and dropped a piece of gum, they they might use DNA in it. More attorneys, more detectives are going to have to deal with this is going to be right in their face.

 

DM

Yeah, it’s I think it’s truly incredible how the technologies like genetic genealogy are closing these cases, one after another.

 

MA

So I mean, there’s no doubt that genetic genealogy is like you say, in the baseball parlance that that it’s the closer, but I think one thing we’ve got to remember is that, although you know, it looks like genetic genealogy quickly solves a case and maybe easily solves  case, you’ve got to kind of understand how that sausage is actually made. So getting the DNA sample, in a lot of cases might be the easy part. And then just uploading it into this open access genealogy, that database, that’s probably the the easy part, it’s what happens after that to actually get the lead, that can be extremely labor intensive. And that’s why you can’t throw this at every case, even if you have a DNA sample, because it’s gonna take months of hard work, and probably numerous individuals working together to refine this genealogy research. In other words, to look at documents track down leads, interview, people maybe perform additional DNA testing. So to get to that magic moment of cuffing the perp, and say, DNA did it that takes a lot of time and effort. And you know, like Lindsey said, most of the cold cases don’t even have DNA evidence. So we hear about the genetic genealogy, but it’s really just a drop in the bucket of the cold cases, they’re there, and it’s not available for most of them.

 

DM

Yeah, unfortunately, there is going to be a little bit of a, I guess, a time stamp cut off. So everything after this date, DNA will have an impact, because they just weren’t collecting it, or knew to collect it. Or this. And let’s say, you know, something falls out of the sky, and they’re able to, to link it to somebody that could be a potential suspect or witness in a case.

 

MA

I mean, if you don’t have it, you can’t test it.. That’s all there is to it. And a lot of times people are it was collected, maybe in the 80s, but it could have been destroyed, it could have been damaged. Believe it or not, these things get lost. You know, for example, like the, the Ted Bundy blood vial in the clerk’s office, seemed like Lindsey and other people had to go through a lot of work to even locate it. You know, where was that? Where’s the evidence tracking system in the 70s? And 80s? You know, it was it was probably written on a cocktail napkin.

 

DM

Yeah, that was a little bit of a jaw drop for me. It just should haven’t been that she had to go through that much work. And here it was sitting in a lab. There was a and there was a shrine, you know, it just,

 

MA

Yeah, that was one. And then then the, you know, the clerk’s office? Like I said before, it’s like, well, that’s, you know, I mean, you’re not looking to preserve evidence there. It’s just that it was probably a court exhibit, you have to hold on to that stuff. So it was just thrown in a box somewhere.

 

DM

Well, I guess that kind of a positive side to that, that that Lindsey raised, that it’s that time is on the cold case Detective’s side. that there’s, there’s no, you know, there’s not so much pressure, timing, pressure, and that they’ll get there when they get there. And then also, now departments have dedicated Cold Case units. This way, they’re not taking it away from resources from from current cases, which I thought was also smart, I think you’re going to see a lot more of, I guess, compartmentalizing, in, I think medium to large forces just for that, because I think as we keep moving forward with the DNA, they’re gonna be able to really go back and like, like we just talked about, and start applying some of this DNA that’s sitting on a shelf somewhere to these cold cases

 

MA

Well, when you think about the amount of material that has to be reviewed on a cold case, you really can’t be pulled in 25 different directions, doing other cases. So these dedicated cold case units are a great idea. Because you think about a brand new case, there’s only so much evidence, so many police reports only so much has been done. But if you’re looking at a cold case, there might be 40 years of people investigating this and researching it. And you have to plow through all of that. So you really have to be focused on it. And it seems to me that, you know, Lindsey is really, really cut out for this job. And I suppose to the outside world, it sounds like she just sort of sailed through her career was continually promoted and excelled. But I’m sure Dion it wasn’t that easy. And, you know, maybe we should have asked her more about some of the challenges that she faced, and hopefully we can talk to her again, down the road, you know, particularly when her book comes out. And, you know, even just the fact that in this, you know, in the business she’s in I mean, she’s, she’s a woman, and she’s biracial at that. So what challenges must that have brought onto her? And I bet we’ll hear about that in her book.

 

DM

Yeah, I hope so. I still go back to how rewarding it must be. When a detective finally solves a mystery that’s, that’s decades old, you know? Like, how cool is it that cases Lindsey worked on for years will likely end up being solved in the future and she’ll continue to celebrate them? I think that’s, I think that’s why you get into the business and why she works so hard to become a detective.

 

MA

Well, you know what else? The more complicated these cases are, the longer they’re going to live on. Because some of the cases that Lindsey thought were solved, are going to come back on appeal, convictions might be overturned. And so you never get away from these cases, particularly the complicated murder cases.

 

DM

I agree. But I also there’s another thing I took away from, I guess, from her, her spirit on this is that, obviously, she loves bringing closure to the family, you can tell by that part of the discussion. I don’t want to, you know, go too much in that because it just spoke for itself. But I’m sure that she also is always, you know, spending a lot of time focused on the cases that she couldn’t solve during her career, I bet you that probably really eats her up.

 

MA

Yeah, that’s, that’s definitely a tough side effect to this line of work. And I mean, just to kind of close out here, I think that this interview was a great lesson and how it’s not really the DNA technology that solves the case, it’s the detective who put the work in, to first of all, find the DNA, and then make sure that it can be compared to as many people as possible. If you’re suspect is, not in a database, somewhere there, there’s just not going to be a hit. So, you know, for example, I was really impressed with how Lindsey thought about these civil commitment centers, and had the idea that, hey, we don’t know that their DNA profiles are necessarily in a database. So she went and wasn’t easy, but ended up getting those guys tested. And lo and behold, she solved a case that way.

 

DM

Well, it’s that kind of out of the box thinkingI think it’s gonna keep the, you know, I hate to keep using sports analogies, but the ball, you know, moving down the field, you know, it’s like, Okay, well, we tried this. We’ve been doing it this way. How much success? What else can we try?

 

MA

Well said.

 

DM

So we look forward to talking with Lindsey again in the near future. And of course, reading a book, it seems like there’s so many questions we could have asked her but we only had a short amount of time. To learn more about Lindsey, check out our website at lindseywade.org . And also check her out on Twitter @elledubb7. And we want to say hey, thanks again for listening and for interacting with us on social media. keep those questions coming. We love it. We like to play you know, stump the DNA expert when we get every chance we get. We hope everyone is doing better now that the pandemic is subsiding a little bit, and make sure you check out all of our past episodes at crime redefined.com be well everyone.

 

B

Thank you for listening to the Crime Redefined podcast, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @crimeredefined. Please send us your comments and questions and join us for the next episode.

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