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DNA evidence sheds light on Federal Way teen's unsolved murder | Mayflower link?

New information has surfaced in the decades-old murder of Federal Way High School student Sarah Yarborough. Back in 1991, witnesses saw a suspect, and two versions of a sketch of the man have been distributed over the years. - Courtesy image
New information has surfaced in the decades-old murder of Federal Way High School student Sarah Yarborough. Back in 1991, witnesses saw a suspect, and two versions of a sketch of the man have been distributed over the years.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Police are hoping new information regarding the identity of the suspect in the decades-old murder of Federal Way High School student Sarah Yarborough leads to an arrest.

Yarborough's murder rocked Federal Way 20 years ago. The 16-year-old was last seen alive on the morning of Dec. 14, 1991, leaving her residence on her way to school to attend an early morning dance team function.

She was later found dead on the school’s campus. Witnesses saw a suspect, and detectives have DNA evidence that is able to be compared to a specific suspect, according to the King County Sheriff’s website.

That DNA evidence found at the scene was recently sent to Colleen Fitzpatrick, who is the president of Identifinders International, for examination. Identifinders International specializes in forensic genealogy in which an unidentified suspect DNA profile can be examined with the use of genealogy databases in an effort to identify the family name of the suspect.

Based on the analysis of the suspect DNA profile found at the scene in the Yarborough case, it has been learned that the suspect is a member of the extended family of Robert Fuller, who arrived in Salem, Mass., in the 1630s. Robert Fuller is related to two Fullers who arrived in America on the Mayflower. The suspect in Yarborough's murder may have the last name of Fuller.

Back in 1991, witnesses saw a suspect, and two versions of a sketch of the man have been distributed over the years. At the time, the suspect was described as a 5-foot-10 to 6-foot white male in his 20s with shoulder-length dirty blond/light brown hair. He had a medium build and was wearing a trench coach and dark pants.

If you have any information related to the Yarborough case, call the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 296-3311.

The new emphasis into cold cases like Yarborough's has been made possible by the King County Sheriff's Office, along with the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, dedicating more resources to review each of the county's unsolved homicides. Since 2006, detectives and deputy prosecuting attorneys have identified 193 homicides and missing person cases believed to be homicides, dating back to 1942.

The term “cold case” refers to a crime that has not yet been solved or is the subject of a recent criminal investigation, but for which new information could emerge from new witness testimony, re-examined archives, retained material evidence and fresh activities of the suspect.

In total, King County’s Cold Case Squad has filed 18 murder cases since its inception. The Cold Case Squad includes Det. Scott Tompkins and Det. Jake Pavlovich, both experienced homicide detectives. The team also includes civilian analyst Tom Jensen, a retired sheriff’s detective with more than 20 years experience working the Green River Killer homicides, the most famous cold case in King County’s history.

The threesome gave the Cold Case Squad a little more beef when they were assigned full time in 2009, thanks to a $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice, an arm of the U.S. Justice Department. The grant has assisted the squad in investigating and resolving unsolved homicides and missing person cases.

How to help

A webpage has been set up on the King County Sheriff’s Department website (kingcounty.gov/safety/sheriff/Contact/TIPS.aspx) describing the nearly 200 outstanding cold cases from the last 40-plus years. The cases are specifically directed toward homicides or missing person cases thought to be homicides. Detectives are asking the public to view the cases and report any information that may be related to these or other crimes.

 

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