“For more than four decades, police were unable to clearly identify a suspect, make an arrest or charge anyone for the murder,” the release said.
But with the help of advances in DNA technology and DNA ancestry databases and analysis by Parabon NanoLabs, authorities say they were able to connect physical evidence from the decades-old crime scene and find a DNA profile match that led to the arrest.
Plympton made his first appearance Wednesday and his next court appearance is scheduled for June 17, court records show. He is charged with three counts related to Tucker’s killing, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree rape.
Tucker, who was then a sophomore studying business at Mt. Hood Community College, was sexually assaulted and beaten to death, the release said.
On the evening of January 15, 1980, Tucker was seen running onto a road from a nearby wooded area and multiple witnesses at the time said they thought they saw the young woman waving, as if she was trying to get people’s attention, police said.
One witness told authorities they saw a man come out of the shrubs and lead Tucker toward the school’s campus.
She was found in nearby bushes the next morning, according to police.
“These cold cases are not lost or forgotten for our department,” Gresham Police Chief Claudio Grandjean said in a statement. “Each one represents a person to our officers, and their tragic stories are passed down through the generations in hopes of one day bringing honor to their names and a sense of justice and closure to their cases.”
“I’m hopeful this development will help Barbara’s family and our community heal,” the chief added.