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Snohomish County detectives arrest suspect in 27-year-old murder case

Adrian Florez

A 62-year old Bothell man has been arrested for the 1993 murder of Melissa Lee, who was abducted from her home and strangled 27  years ago.

Alan Edward Dean has been arrested, and faces charges of first-degree murder.

Sharon Lee, Melissa’s mother, was emotional as she described what it means to see her daughter’s alleged killer caught after all this time.

“I’m just happy I got to live long enough to see this happen,” she said. “I hope he rots in hell.”

It was late on a spring night in ‘93, when Sharon returned home from work to find her 15-year-old daughter missing and the sign of a struggle. The teen’s body was discovered the next day in a ravine in Everett.

The cold case was solved with the help of nationally famous genetic genealogist Cece Moore. She was able to track the DNA of relatives of Dean through a genealogy site. Snohomish County Sheriff detectives then picked up a cigarette butt Dean had discarded and matched his DNA to that collected at the crime scene.

Lead detective Brad Walvatne says the advances in science are making it possible to solve more cold cases.

“This is our third, obviously, genealogy cases that we’ve solved,” he said. “There’s seven others that we’re working on right now.”

Snohomish County was one of the first law enforcement agencies in the country to solve a murder using a genetic genealogy site.

There has been pushback. Critics say letting police use these sites this way raises privacy concerns.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.