JUNE 23, 1997
The Jensen family looks on as the King County medical examiner removes a body found near Kingsgate last weekend.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/Northwest News.
by Andrew Walgamott
A body spotted in tall grass near Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery on June 21 may be that of a Kingsgate woman missing for four weeks. Police also discovered evidence near the body, but wouldn't detail what was found.
Family and friends of 53-year-old Arlene Jensen gathered beside NE 145th Street at the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train crossing Sunday as the King County Medical Examiner and Police processed the crime scene. The body was found less than one mile from Arlene's Kingsgate condominium. Arlene has been missing since May 26 or 27.
The body, a white female, was laying face down in marshy, hip-deep grass 300 feet south of the intersection and 20 feet west of the rails, according to police spokesperson Joanne Elledge. She said the body was clothed in a light colored house coat and was shoeless. Elledge wasn't ready to say the body was that of Arlene, but allowed that there were "a lot of similarities." Police said the body had been there several weeks.
The Medical Examiner removed the body Sunday and autopsy results were expected Monday afternoon. The Jensen family has provided the examiner with Arlene's dental records.
Arlene disappeared from her Compton Meadows Condo after spending Memorial Day weekend with her boyfriend of eight years, Jim Melton. She also spoke with her son, David Jensen, at about 8 p.m. Monday night.
All appeared normal at her home, according to David, when he checked the residence the next day when she failed to report to work at Helly Hansen in Redmond. David said her TV was on, her purse was in its normal place, and a wastebasket was sitting in the kitchen without a fresh liner. UPS packages were on the front doorstep.
State crime lab results found small flecks of blood on Arlene's pillow and comforter. Police reclassified the case as an abduction.
A search warrant was served on a car driven by an acquaintance of the family, June 11 and 12. The search was prompted by "contradictions" and "suspicious comments" the man gave detectives, according to Elledge. Allegedly the same brand of cigarettes the man smokes were found in Arlene's toilet, as well. Nothing was found in the search of the car. Police have no suspects.
A pastor from St. John's Episcopal Church of Kirkland joined the Jensens and friends at the railroad crossing Sunday and prayed with them. After speaking with the medical examiner, David Jensen said chances were the body was his mother. "My gut says it probably is," David said.
Jim Melton, who was a high school sweetheart of Arlene's, described the last 27 days she's been missing as "hell." "I wouldn't wish this on anybody," he said.
Jim said though there was some relief with the discovery, there wasn't yet a sense of closure. "I hope they find out who did it," he said.
The body was spotted by passengers in a dome car on the dinner train after it stopped at the crossing around 7:35 pm Saturday night. According to press reports, flares set on the roadway for traffic control during a concert at a nearby winery brought the train to a halt. Riders alerted the assistant conductor who spoke with police. The area was secured that night.
Detectives investigating Arlene's disappearance were among the first on the scene. Several weeks ago, King County Search and Rescue (SAR) and dogs combed nearby wooded ravines looking for Jensen, but failed to find any clue in her disappearance. "Dogs are good, but they don't always find everything," Capt. Dan Richmond said.
Last Sunday, SAR teams returned and flagged areas of interest alongside the railroad tracks. Elledge said that new evidence was found near the body, but wouldn't elaborate.
The Jensen family is considering putting a reward together with Crimestoppers for more information on the case. Anyone with information on Arlene's disappearance is asked to call Det. Jim Doyon at (206) 205-7809.