A cigarette leads to an arrest in a 27-year cold case

By Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Press Release with contributions from Mario Lotmore

EVERETT, Wash., July 29, 2020 – Today the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference to announce a break in a 1993 Homicide Cold Case. Detectives from the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit arrested a 62 year-old Bothell (Washington) man for the April 1993 murder of 15 year-old Melissa Lee.

Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee. A resident of Bothell, Wash., she was 15 year-old at the time of her death. Her body was found in the city of Everett in Snohomish County (Washington State) in a ravine on the north side of the Edgewater Creek Bridge on 04/14/1993. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

Alan Edward Dean was taken into custody without incident at 5 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, 2020, near his residence in Bothell.  He has been booked into the Snohomish County Jail on one count of 1st degree murder and one count of 1st degree kidnapping for the 1993 kidnapping and killing of 15-year-old Melissa Lee. Detectives continue to gather, and process evidence and interview witnesses related to the investigation of Lee’s murder.

After thanking the Sheriff Fortney and members of the Major Crimes Unit, Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell reaffirmed his commitment of a successful conviction to the victim’s mother, Sharon Lee.

Adam Cornell
Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell speaking at the press conference in the Snohomish County Courthouse on July 29, 2020.

“This case is being assigned to the best and the most experienced in my office… Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Craig Mathison and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Laura Twitchell… Ms. Lee, this case and your daughter is in good hands,” said Cornell. “We can do everything in our power to provide her the measure of justice. We are with you Ms. Lee and will continue to be.”

Cornell shared that his office would seek a bail amount of $2 million. 

Holding back tears, Sharon Lee, mother of the victim said, “I am so happy I got to live long enough to see this happen. I hope he [Dean] rots in hell.”

Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee, mother of Melissa Lee speaking at the press conference in the Snohomish County Courthouse on July 29, 2020.

Detective Brad Walvatne shared that Dean was a suspect in 1993 and that eight years earlier was involved in an incident of a sexual assault of a minor in Arizona. Dean lived on Madison Street in Everett in 1993; approximately 3.6 miles from where Lee’s body was found. He worked dayshift at Boeing in Everett prior to the killing.

“[We] wouldn’t be here today without science,” Walvatne said.

Brad Walvatne
Detective Brad Walvatne speaking at the press conference in the Snohomish County Courthouse on July 29, 2020.

Detectives are asking for people to come forward with information, specifically anyone who:

  • Currently knows Dean, previously knew Dean or knew of his activities in or around 1993 (he would have been 35 years-old at the time of the murder)
  • Recognizes Dean from the photo of him around the time of the killing in 1993 and/or from the more recent photo of him
  • Dated, communicated with, or has any information regarding Dean around 1993 using a night talk line (he used a fake name of Mike or Michael)
  • Has information regarding Dean having access to Ethyl Ether and Heptane chemicals around the time the crimes were committed

“We never gave up hope that we would find Melissa’s killer,” said Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney. “The arrest yesterday shows how our detective’s determination, combined with new advancements in DNA technology, continues to get us one step closer to justice for victims and their families, even decades later. We are also extremely thankful for the support and expertise from our partners at Parabon.”

Adam Fortney
Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney speaking at the press conference in the Snohomish County Courthouse on July 29, 2020.

Dean was identified as a suspect through the use of genetic genealogy, which is the use of DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogical methods to establish the relationship between an individual and their ancestors.

Successful identification of Dean was established with assistance from Parabon NanoLabs (Parabon), a DNA technology company in Virginia that performed genetic genealogy analysis for the case. A digital file containing DNA genotype data derived from evidence at the crime scene was uploaded to a public genetic genealogy website, and promising matches were found for multiple of the suspect’s relatives.

Alan Edward Dean. A more recent photo of the suspect, 62 year-old Alan Edward Dean, now a resident of Bothell. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

After Parabon’s genealogists deduced Dean’s identity, detectives subsequently acquired an abandoned DNA sample from a cigarette butt he had used. Washington State Patrol’s crime lab confirmed that it positively matched the DNA profile from the crime scene evidence.

This is the third arrest of a murder suspect in Snohomish County that involved assistance from Parabon. According to CeCe Moore, a Genetic Genealogist with Parabon, this is the 118th successful identification for the company.

On the evening of April 13, 1993, 15-year-old Melissa Lee was home alone at her residence on Filbert Road in Bothell. Lee was planning to have a girlfriend come stay the night at her house, however she never made it.

Lee spoke with her mother on their home landline phone around 9:30 p.m. When Lee’s mother arrived home after midnight, she discovered the front door ajar and signs of a struggle inside. The living room coffee table askew, an ashtray upside down on the floor, a glass of milk spilled on the floor and 15 year-old Lee was not home. Her mother reported her missing to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office on April 14, 1993.

On the evening of April 14, 1993, Melissa Lee’s body was found in a ravine on the north side of the Edgewater Creek Bridge in the 3800 block of Mukilteo Boulevard located in the city of Everett.

The following day, an autopsy was completed by the Snohomish County Chief Medical Examiner. The autopsy determined Lee’s death was attributed to asphyxia due to manual strangulation and was classified as a homicide. A toxicology report did not detect any drugs or alcohol in Lee’s system; however, Ethyl Ether and Heptane chemicals were detected in Lee’s system.

Alan Edward Dean
Alan Edward Dean, 1993. A photo of the suspect, Alan Edward Dean, around the time of the killing in 1993. He was 35 years-old, a resident of Everett, Wash., and worked dayshift at Boeing in Everett prior to the killing. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

In 1993, detectives interviewed Alan Dean three times after finding notes in Melissa Lee’s address book with a phone number for someone named “Michael.” The male was identified as Alan E. Dean and told detectives he used the name “Mike” when he met Lee through a night talk line and dated her twice in March of 1993. 

If you or anyone you know has information related to this case or suspect, please call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line 425-388-3845.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

Mario Lotmore has 1269 posts and counting. See all posts by Mario Lotmore

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