Justice Served After 40 Years! Discarded Chewing Gum Leads To Conviction In 1980 Cold Case Murder

Robert Plympton

There has been an intriguing breakthrough in a 1980 cold case murder in Oregon!

DNA found in a discarded piece of chewing gum led to the arrest and subsequent conviction of a suspect, Robert Plympton, in connection with the killing of Mt. Hood Community College student Barbara Tucker.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office announced that Plympton, now 60, was found guilty of one count of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder related to Tucker’s death.

The conviction comes after Tucker, 19, was “kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and beaten to death” on January 15, 1980, according to the DA’s news release.

Although Plympton had initially pleaded not guilty, a jury ultimately found him guilty. His attorneys have stated their intention to appeal the convictions, confident that they will be overturned.

The investigation into Tucker’s murder gained momentum after witnesses reported seeing a woman in distress around the time of the incident.

Tucker’s body was discovered the following morning near a parking lot on campus.

The breakthrough in the case came when genetic genealogists used DNA from swabs taken during Tucker’s autopsy to narrow down possible suspects.

A phenotype prediction test helped identify red-haired men, leading investigators to focus on Plympton.

In March 2021, Robert Plympton was identified as the likely suspect and subsequently placed under surveillance.

Detectives collected a wad of chewing gum that Plympton had discarded, and DNA from the gum matched the profile from the autopsy swabs.

The arrest of Plympton in June 2021 marked a significant breakthrough in the decades-old case, providing closure for Tucker’s family and bringing justice to her memory.

CeCe Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs, described the case as one of the highlights of her career, emphasizing the meaningful impact of her work in helping families and survivors of violent crime.

Plympton’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June, and he remains in custody in Multnomah County.

The successful resolution of this cold case is evidence of the crucial role that advancements in DNA technology and genetic genealogy play in solving long-standing mysteries and delivering justice.