TACOMA, WA – Today James Mitchell, 50, was arrested in Florida for stabbing Linda Robinson to death at her Pierce County residence in 1993. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Mitchell with murder in the first degree last week, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Police took him into custody without incident, and he will be extradited back to Washington.
“This is another success story for justice from our cold case project,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Collaboration between the Tacoma Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and our office has resulted in charges in nine cold homicide cases.”
On Feb. 6, 1993, Robinson’s 7-year-old niece knocked on a neighbor’s door and said, “My aunt’s dead and there’s a fire.” He rushed to the apartment and saw Robinson lying on the kitchen floor, face down, covered in blood. There was food burning on the stove, which caused the fire alarm to sound.
Robinson had been stabbed ten times in her back, including a fatal stab wound to her lungs. She was holding a telephone handset, but the cord had been cut. In addition to the blood in the kitchen, police collected blood drops in Robinson’s bedroom and bathroom. Detectives were not able to identify any suspects in the case, and the investigation was eventually suspended.
In 2013, cold case detectives reopened the investigation, submitting the blood collected in the bedroom and bathroom to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for DNA analysis. The lab was able to develop a DNA profile, which identified Mitchell as the donor. Mitchell’s DNA profile was in the system as a result of several felony convictions in the early 2000’s. Detectives learned that Mitchell and Robinson grew up across the street from one another.
Dozens of cold cases in Pierce County, including homicides and sexual assaults, have recently been solved and prosecuted as the result of a 2012 grant awarded to the Tacoma Police Department. Grant funds are used, in part, to pay for expensive DNA testing that wasn’t available at the time many of these crimes were committed. The $225,000 grant has recently been extended through 2015.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office