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Story by Joe English, KATU Staff - Story Source
Published on Thursday June 10, 2021 - 12:42 AM
 
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In January of 1980, Barbara Tucker was just a college kid headed home for the night.

She never made it.

Another Mt. Hood Community College student found her body in the bushes the next day.

Finally this week, Gresham police detectives found the man they think raped and killed her.

New DNA testing technology was used to analyze evidence from the 1980 crime scene and lead police to Robert Plympton, a 58-year-old man living in Troutdale...


Background

"I thought it was a prank- Witness drove past victim covered in mud & blood as her attacker pulled her back into the bushes. Murder of Barbara Mae Tucker" Update

I am haunted by the image of Barbara trying to flag down motorists as she was raped and murdered on her way to class in 1980.

Barbara Tucker, a 19-year-old Mt. Hood Community College student, was raped and bludgeoned to death while walking from her apartment on Northeast 23rd Street to a class.

A student found her body early Jan. 16 in some shrubs next to a parking lot on the southwest corner of campus. Tucker was studying business management is believed to have been murdered on her way to a night class. Her purse and a few books were found near her body.

A woman quickly came forward to say that she had been traveling on Kane Drive shortly before 7 p.m. Jan 15 and had seen both Barbara and a young man close to where Barbara's body was found some 12 hours later.

Louise Tucker told reporters that she understood that the female witness saw Barbara trying to flag down cars on the heavily traveled thoroughfare; several cars had to brake to keep from hitting her, and one car nearly hit her.

The driver of that car later described seeing blood and mud on Barbara's face and a man grab one of her arms and pull her off the road. Another witness saw a man, looking 'wide-eyed and apparently shocked,' emerge from the bushes in the same area of Kane Drive, according to a statement made by Gresham police in 1990.

Nobody stopped to help Barbara. The female witness, who came to Barbara's funeral, told the victim's family that until she heard about the murder, she thought she had been observing a college prank or students dodging traffic.

According to newspaper reports, one or more of the witnesses described the young man as in his early 20s, about 6 feet tall, with a muscular build, broad shoulders and a square neck. He was 'expensively dressed' in a light beige, knitted ski cap, navy-blue ski parka and blue or gray pants, and he walked with a 'distinctive swagger,' a 'bold, arrogant strut.'