DNA collected from chewing gum leads to arrest and conviction in 1980 cold case murder

 DNA found on a piece of discarded gum led to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in a 1980 cold case murder in Oregon, prosecutors said.

Robert Plimpton, 60, was convicted last week of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder for the killing of Mount Hood Community College student Barbara Tucker, according to a news release from the Multnomah County District Attorney. office. office.

The statement said 19-year-old Tucker was "kidnapped, sexually assaulted and beaten to death" on Jan. 15, 1980. Rape and sexual assault charges against Plimpton were dropped, according to a document released by the district attorney's office.

Plimpton has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers say they plan to appeal his conviction. “We will appeal and are confident that their convictions will be overturned,” attorneys Stephen Howes and Jacob Howes said in a statement to CNN.

Plimpton remains in custody in Multnomah County awaiting sentencing, the district attorney's office said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June.

The witness heard screaming

Barbara Tucker

Family of Barbara Tucker Tucker/Gresham Police Department

The document issued by the prosecutor's office said that eyewitnesses saw a woman who appeared to be in distress at the time of the killing. One woman described seeing a woman “beating her arms and her face covered in blood,” while another said she “saw a man looking through the bushes next to the (university) parking lot.”

One man said he heard a woman screaming and saw two people in the distance, and a fourth witness reported seeing a woman with mud on her pants, waving her arms on the side of the road.

Detective D.K. Wood accompanies Elroy Harrison this morning after his arrest for the 1986 murder of Jacqueline Laird.

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Tucker's body was discovered the next morning near the parking lot by students heading to classes at Gresham College, the district attorney's news release said.

“These unsolved cases are not lost or forgotten to our department,” then-Police Chief Claudio Grandjean said in a statement following Plimpton’s arrest in June 2021.

“Each of them represents a person to our officers, and their tragic stories are passed down from generation to generation in the hope that one day their names will be honored, justice will be felt, and their cases will be closed.”

According to the prosecutor's press release, swabs taken during Tucker's autopsy were used to create a DNA profile of the suspect.

The break in the investigation came after police asked Virginia-based DNA technology company Parabon NanoLabs to examine the profile and try to identify possible matches.

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