Investigators reported the arrest of a suspect in the murder of Michella Welch, a 12-year-old girl who was found killed in a Washington park more than thirty years ago. After DNA from a napkin he used matched that found at the crime scene, police charged Gary Charles Hartman, 66, with murder and rape.
Michella Welch (12) and Jennifer Bastian (13) were brutally murdered in their Tacoma, Washington State town in 1986, shocking everyone to their core. After all, the two young girls were kidnapped in broad daylight, barely five months apart, according to ‘Dateline NBC: Evil Was Watching.’
They were allegedly used for sexual pleasure before being slain. The most perplexing component is that these events were never linked, so now, if you’re interested in learning more about Michella’s assailant, Gary Hartman, in particular, here’s what we know.
Gary Hartman, Who is He?
According to his attorney’s assertions in court, Gary Charles Hartman, who was born in 1952, never had an easy or comfortable childhood due to a variety of domestic troubles. His father allegedly began giving him undiluted alcohol as a child in order to “make him a man.”
At the same time, his mother allegedly had him addicted to prescription medications by the age of ten. Not only that, but he was allegedly subjected to years of both sexual and mental abuse, which had such an impact on him that he couldn’t tell the days apart, let alone what he was doing at times.
Gary was supposedly in this stage of his life when he attacked the pre-teen, addicted and struggling with his mental health, after which “he convinced himself he did not do this.” He turned over a new leaf three years later, in 1989, by becoming sober and gaining a licence as a registered nurse to help others, but none of it could undo his history.
So when DNA evidence linked his gene pool to Michella’s rape and murder 30 years later, officials put him (along with his brother) on the run until a sample could be acquired. Gary’s DNA was found to be a match in June 2018 after being extracted from a brown paper napkin.
What Happened to Gary Hartman and Where Is He Now?
Within weeks of the fresh evidence being discovered, Gary Hartman, a community nurse specialist at Western State Hospital, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape. He’d never left the area, so he was almost immediately arrested and placed into the Pierce County Jail on a $5 million bond.
But, more importantly, the four-time husband and father of two kids asserted his innocence for a long time after pleading not guilty. That is, until, according to his defence attorney, “he awoke at some time in the county jail with the realisation that he was the one who performed this awful act [on Michella].”
As a result, during Gary’s bench trial, his team and the prosecutors came to an agreement on key incriminating details about the case, prompting the latter to say, “I feel the defendant has done everything he can to almost plead guilty.”
Nonetheless, they claimed that Gary felt police monitoring on him and informed a coworker, “30 years earlier he had done something horrible, and he thought he had been exposed,” to refute the argument that he’d forgotten about his activities.
As a result, in March 2022, a court found Gary Hartman guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to 26 1/2 years in prison after less than two hours of testimony. The charge of first-degree rape was dropped. “Your actions are not excused under any circumstances.
The court stated, “You are guilty of one of the most malignant and disgusting crimes,” before delivering him the harshest penalty imaginable, which means the 70-year-old would likely spend the rest of his life in prison. He looks to be in the process of being transferred to a state facility as of this writing.
Gary had sobbed in court and stated, “I’m very sorry.” “Please accept my heartfelt apologies. I apologise profusely. That isn’t going to help. “Please accept my apologies.”