PORTLAND, Ore. — Gresham police identified a Troutdale man this week as the suspect in an 80s cold case homicide.

Police used DNA technology to identify 58-year-old Robert Plympton as a suspect in the killing of 19-year-old Barbara Mae Tucker, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Gresham police on Tuesday arrested Plympton. He’s charged with murder, rape and sex abuse and is being held on $500,00 bail.

Tucker was expected at a night class at Mt. Hood Community College on Jan. 15, 1980. A student found Tucker’s body the next day.

The medical examiner determined Tucker had been sexually assaulted and beaten to death.

The instructor of the class Tucker was walking to the night she was killed told an Oregonian reporter in 1980 that she was a “dedicated student who rarely missed class.” The teacher said she was outgoing, intelligent and had many friends on campus.


Police had been unable to clearly identify a suspect or make an arrest for decades.

Based on physical evidence from the crime scene, modern advances in DNA technology, DNA ancestry databases and research and analysis by Parabon NanoLabs LLC, police said they recently made a DNA profile match that furthered the case and led to Plympton’s arrest.

Lisa Plympton, Robert Plympton’s wife, said the arrest is “a shock” and that her husband denies the accusation he killed Tucker.

Maureen Quinn, a Portland native and childhood friend of Tucker, said after reading the news of Plympton’s arrest that she is thankful investigators continued to pursue the case.