Back in 1986, a murder went unsolved. But now after more than 30 years have gone by, justice has finally been served. A girl was found raped and murdered in a park in Washington state. Her killer was recently charged for his crimes due to DNA evidence that he probably thought would never be linked back to him.
I’d be surprised if Netflix doesn’t pick up the rights to this story line in sort of a reverse Making A Murderer plot line. Recently DNA evidence has gotten a few convictions of cold cases in the past few months.
Gary Hartman, 66-years-old, was charged Friday for killing and raping six-grader Michella Welch.
Welch went missing after she was babysitting her sisters near Puget Park on March 26, 1986. She went home to make sandwiches and her sisters called her shortly after and never heard back from her.
Police Chief Don Ramsdell said in a news conference:
“A search dog found Michella’s body just before 11 p.m. that night in an isolated area in the gulch, more than a quarter-mile away from the play area. Michella had been sexually assaulted and murdered.”
After a pile of leads that didn’t pan out, the case went cold until 2016. That’s when the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office found a genetic genealogist to use DNA found at the original crime scene to put together a family tree via a public genealogy database.
Eventually they narrowed it down to Gary Hartman along with his younger brother who had been in the same area in 1986.
That’s when a private investigator followed Gary until he went to a diner and used a napkin multiple times. The napkin then got sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory. Drumroll please…
IT WAS A MATCH!
He is currently being held on a $5 million bail and will await his official hearing till Monday. Apparently Hartman stayed in the area his whole life and was living with his third wife.
KOMO News spoke to Nicole Eby, who was Michella’s younger sister. They asked her if she forgives Hartman for the pain she caused her family. She said:
“Yeah I do, I do. It’s hard but if I hold that in, it makes me angry. Since Michella didn’t get to live her life out I want to live my life out for good. His choices will hopefully put him behind bars and where I think he should live the rest of his life.”
Hartman was a nurse since at least 1998, but never had a prior criminal history. Stephanie Brookens was a nurse at Western State Hospital in 2007 and had met Hartman. She said that:
“I knew there was something off but I didn’t know how bad it was you know? I would have figured cheat on his wife or something minor. A murder and a rape? I don’t understand how you can put that in a little box in your mind and then go into a helping profession.”
Told you it sounded like a Netflix series.