DNA links Troutdale man to 1980 murder of college student

Crime

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A 58-year-old Troutdale man was arrested after DNA evidence linked him to the unsolved 1980 murder of a Mt. Hood Community College student.

Robert Plympton was taken into custody by Gresham police on Tuesday and is charged with the rape and murder of Barbara Mae Tucker, who was 19 at the time. He’s booked at the Multnomah County Jail on charges of 1st- and 2nd-degree murder, plus 1st-degree rape and sex abuse.

Authorities said the break in the case came from DNA technology that was not available 41 years ago.

The case

Barbara Tucker was a business student at Mt. Hood CC. On the night of January 15, 1980, she was seen running onto NE Kane Drive from a wooded area on the west edge of the campus, authorities said. Multiple witnesses saw her but thought she was waving at someone. Another witness saw a man come out from the shrubs and led her back to campus.

The next day, a student found Tucker’s body in nearby bushes. She had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death.

Physical evidence from the scene was maintained and recently a DNA profile match led investigators to Plympton.

The investigation continues, officials said.

In a statement, Gresham PD Chief Claudio Grandjean said, “These ‘cold cases’ are not lost or forgotten for our department. 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.”

He noted the efforts of Detective Aaron Turnage and criminalist Deanna Grossi who worked on the case for years.

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