TACOMA, Wash. — The Pierce County courtroom hummed as dozens of people awaited their first glimpse of the man charged with killing 13-year-old Jennifer Bastian.
Tacoma detectives who have worked the cold case over the decades chatted and anxiously tapped their fingers against the wooden benches. Bastian's family shared hugs and bittersweet smiles. Members of the media and those who were friends with Bastian in their childhood packed the room.
They'd waited 32 years for justice for Jenni, to see the monster who allegedly killed her.
Thursday was that day.
Robert Washburn, 60, was extradited from Eureka, Ill., on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after he was arrested at his home there in the cold case.
Prosecutors on Thursday amended the first-degree murder charge already filed against Washburn, adding aggravating factors of sexual motivation and deliberate cruelty.
If convicted as charged, Washburn is now eligible for life in prison.
He walked into the courtroom at 1:40 p.m. in an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him.
A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf. His bail was set at $5 million.
Pattie Bastian, Jenni's mother, and Theresa Bastian, Jenni's sister, craned their necks for a better look from the front row. Theresa Bastian hugged her mother close and the women rocked slowly back and forth.
The hearing was over within five minutes.
Afterward, Pattie Bastian said she doesn't have words to express her feelings.
"It's just an awesome experience that he's here, he's off the streets and he can't hurt anybody," she said.
Theresa Bastian said the aging man with graying hair is not how she envisioned her sister's killer.
"He seemed too old and small and weak," she said. "It's definitely not what I pictured."
Washburn is accused of abducting Bastian while she was on a training bike ride in Point Defiance Park on Aug. 4, 1986. Her body was found weeks later in a wooded area between Five Mile Drive and the cliffs overlooking Commencement Bay.
Bastian was sexually assaulted and strangled. Her Schwinn bicycle was in the brush nearby.
"The area where her body was located appeared to have been prepared in advance of her body being placed there," records show.
Detectives looked into several tips and eliminated suspect after suspect, spending tens of thousands of investigative hours on the case.
Washburn's name joined the Bastian case file in May 1986 when he called police with a tip about the man who killed 12-year-old Michella Welch in Puget Park.
For decades, police believed the same person killed both girls. It wasn't until 2016 that DNA showed there were two killers.
When detectives interviewed Washburn in December 1986 about the tip, he told them he'd seen someone resembling Welch's killer jogging in Point Defiance Park. He mentioned a "foul odor" on Five Mile Drive and said he was in the park when it cordoned off during the search for Bastian, according to charging papers.
Lindsey Wade and Gene Miller, former cold case detectives who worked the Bastian case for years, said Washburn never stood out as a prime suspect to them.
In 2016, detectives made a list of all suspects in the Bastian case after determining the killer did not also kill Welch.
Washburn, contacted by the FBI at his apartment in Eureka, volunteered a DNA sample.
Test results from the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab came back in early May linking Washburn to the crime.
He has declined to speak with investigators since his arrest.
Pattie Bastian said she has thought a lot about Washburn's disabled daughter, who family members and neighbors said he cared for alone. But then she thinks about what he allegedly did to her Jenni.
"I can't put those two together in my head," she said.
Washburn's brother Britt, who lives in Pierce County, said in a recent interview his family was shocked by the news of the arrest and charge.
"I just can't believe it," Britt said. "You'd have never known it to know him."
Family members haven't spoken to Washburn since his arrest, Britt said — but they hadn't spoken to him much for years beforehand.
"We never heard from him, anyway." he said. "I stopped getting emails from him years ago. He told me he couldn't afford internet."
In 1986, at the time of Bastian's death, Washburn, then 28, lived with a girlfriend in Tacoma's West End, not far from Truman Middle School.
His first marriage had ended a few years earlier, and he had established a pattern of living with women who worked more than he did.
"He was always living off girls," his brother said. "The rest of us always worked. He was the only one that didn't. He never was much of a steady worker. Had big taste, though. He liked good stuff, if the girls could afford it."
Britt said he didn't recall his brother being a drug user.
The two weren't that close.
Robert, an indifferent student, sometimes lived apart from his family in Tacoma when he was growing up, in Texas and in Bellingham.
Britt said he learned only recently that his brother had been questioned at the time of Bastian's disappearance. They know police linked his DNA to the crime scene.
"If they've got his DNA, he's pretty well screwed."
Family members are still struggling to absorb the idea that Robert is accused of sexual assault and murder.
"Just pretty disgusted with him," Britt said. "Just can't believe he'd do a thing like that. Whatever they do to him, if he done it, he deserves it. Losing your kid, I can't imagine that happening to me. I wish he'd just — if he did it, admit doing it and get it over with."
Theresa Bastian echoed that plea Thursday, saying she hopes Washburn eventually will confess and let her family have some peace. Some justice for Jenni.