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Thanks to DNA, Gresham police make arrest in 1980 cold case homicide

Robert Plympton booking photo
Robert Plympton booking photo

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.

Crime And Courts / National & World / News

CNN Newsource



  1. If I saw someone waving for help and then someone else grabbing them and pulling them back into the woods, I would call the Police. Society failed this woman who’s last thoughts running through her mind where that no one cared. I know the feeling. Back in 1981 my vehicle suffered a mechanical failure (later determined by the insurance company) and I smashed into a brick wall. It was on a busy street. I spent an hour trying to flag people down for help but they avoided me. I even stood in the street and people went off in the road ditch to get around me. Finally someone stopped to help. It happened to be a nurse on her way to work. It had a profound affect on how I felt about society. I felt that no one cared (except the Nurse of course). I finally got over it luckily.

  2. Narcissists can spin any story to make it about themselves, using the words “I”, “ME” and “MY” repeatedly, and having a public forum to boast in must be “OH SO FUN”.

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