DNA Names Suspect in 31-Year-Old Pasco Murder Case
Thanks to dogged police work, and never giving up on a case, authorities now have a suspect in the 1986 beating and drowning death of a Richland man. His body was found on February 25th, 1986, in the lagoon near the Pasco Boat Basin, near Schlagel Park.
Robert James McDonald Jr, of Richland (pictured) was 40 at the time, his body was discovered by several people at the basin, he had apparently been in the water for several hours. He was found to have been beaten and likely drowned, according to the coroner.
Despite intensive investigation, fingerprint evidence and more, the case went cold. But Pasco police didn't quit. As DNA became more sophisticated and infallible, evidence from the McDonald case was added to the state DNA database in 2006.
Then, the case cracked open. February 1st, Spokane police notified Pasco the DNA from the case matched a 50-year-old Spokane man, Thomas Milam. Spokane police had arrested him on separate issue, but his DNA came back as a match to that from the Pasco murder. Milam is a former Pasco resident.
Pasco detectives have gone to Spokane to interview him about his presence at the Boat Basin that day, and according to police, the case is about to close "with an arrest." A warrant for 1st. Degree Murder has been obtained from the prosecutor.