GRESHAM, Ore. (KPTV) — Gresham police say a man has been arrested after DNA technology identified him as a suspect in a 1980 cold case homicide.
Robert Plympton, 58, was brought into custody on Tuesday. Investigators believe he is responsible for the murder of 19-year-old Barbara Mae Tucker.
On January 15, 1980, Tucker was seen running onto Northeast Kane Drive from the wooded area on the west edge of Mt. Hood Community College. At the time, multiple witnesses driving by recalled thinking the young woman was waiving at someone and trying to get people’s attention but did not stop.
A witness saw a man come out from the shrubs and led her back toward campus. A fellow student found Tucker’s lifeless body in some nearby bushes the following morning. The medical examiner determined Tucker had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death.
Based on physical evidence from the original crime scene, modern advances in DNA technology, DNA ancestry databases, and research and analysis by Parabon NanoLabs, LLC, a DNA match was made that advanced the case and led to Plympton’s arrest.
Police say although Tucker’s case is not completely closed, Plympton’s arrest marks the waypoint to clearing the oldest unsolved homicide from Gresham Police’s cold case files.
Anyone who has additional information about this case or other unsolved homicides is asked to call Detective Aaron Turnage at 503-618-3136.