MARYSVILLE, Wash. — A man accused of killing a 19-year-old woman in Marysville in 1998 was arrested Monday, bringing closure to a 24-year-old cold case.
“It’s one of those things where it never leaves your thought process because it continues to be unsolved,” said Commander Robb Lamoureux, who was the original case detective and worked it for nine months. “It wasn’t until yesterday when we made the arrest and I was sitting at home thinking about it that it really hit that we’ve got a conclusion to this and we’re finally able to put it on a shelf and have some closure not only for us as investigators who have been involved in it but the family and the community.”
Jennifer Brinkman was found dead in her bedroom on March 21, 1998. Her father and his then-girlfriend had returned from a preplanned vacation in California to find her after she was struck in the neck with an ax, police said.
Investigators found the ax at the scene, and they sent it to the Washington State Patrol crime lab, which found DNA on the weapon. However, investigators couldn’t find a match for the DNA until recently.
Parabon NanoLabs, which offers genetic genealogy services, processed the DNA in 2020.
Based on the results, police got a search warrant for the suspect’s DNA, which he gave voluntarily. The suspect’s DNA was a match to that found at the crime scene.
The suspect, a 52-year-old Renton man, was booked into Snohomish County Jail on Monday on suspicion of first-degree murder. He has not been formally charged. He is being held on $250,000 bail.
Police believe the suspect met Brinkman on a phone chat line, where users call into the service and are connected with another person to talk.
Police found a letter that the suspect wrote to Brinkman before her death, which indicated that there had been prior meetings between Brinkman and the suspect.
At the time of Brinkman’s killing, police spoke with the suspect, but he denied ever having met Brinkman.
After the suspect was arrested, police said he invoked his constitutional rights, and investigators don’t know the motive for the killing.
The man arrested isn’t a suspect in any other cases, and investigators say at this point, Brinkman’s killing appears to be an isolated incident.
Brinkman’s father died in 2013, but police did tell her mother about the arrest.
“She was extremely emotional,” Lamoureux. “I think it was an overwhelming emotion for her to finally have an answer.