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AUGUST 18, 1997

Front Page

Police arrest friend of Dittrick and Jensen

  by Andrew Walgamott, Staff Reporter
   REDMOND -- King County detectives arrested a 28-year-old Snohomish man on two counts of investigation of homicide last Friday afternoon. The suspect may be responsible for the deaths of 53-year-old Arlene Jensen of Kingsgate and 29-year-old Stephanie Dittrick of Redmond. Police say the suspect was a childhood friend of Dittrick's. He is also Jensen's daughter's boyfriend.
  
   It is the policy of the Woodinville Weekly that a suspect's name not be released until he/she has been charged with the crime. The man was arrested without incident at 3 p.m. at a parking lot near a place he was known to frequent in the 16400 block of N.E. 83rd St. of Redmond. He was booked into King County Jail.
  
   Detectives had planned on making an arrest at the suspect's place of work that day, but he didn't report there, according to Joanne Elledge, police spokesperson.
  
   Motive remains unclear though there were allegations the suspect had threatened toill Jensen last Christmas. The suspect had been seeing Jensen's daughter for 11 years. They had two children together. Police had previously questioned the man in the disappearances of both women.
  
   Jensen disappeared May 26 from her condo. Her body was found June 21 in tall grass beside railroad tracks near Chateau Ste. Michelle. The suspect joined Jensen family and friends at the scene when the medical examiner recovered the body June 22.
  
   In Jensen's condo, police found flecks of blood on her pillow and comforter. Her trash can was empty, but sitting in the middle of the kitchen. Two Basic cigarettes were found in her toilet. The suspect smokes Basic; Jensen smoked Marlboro's.
  
   A search warrant was issued for the suspect's 1978 Pontiac Firebird June 11 following "contradictions" and "suspicious comments" in statements to the police. Floor mats, fingerprints, hairs and fibers were recovered from the vehicle.
  
   But without probable cause, police couldn't make an arrest. "There was nothing that linked him directly to [Jensen's] disappearance," Elledge said. Police "kept track" of the suspect following Jensen's death.
  
   Neighborhood witnesses place the suspect with Dittrick at her Union Hill home at 8:30 a.m. July 5. She failed to report to work at Pacific Circuits of Redmond the same day.
  
   Her remains were identified August 13 by the King County Medical Examiner. She had been partially buried with branches near a trail by a campground five miles west of Skykomish. Cause of death was homicidal violence of unknown cause.
  
   Elledge said there were "commonalities" within the crime scenes where Dittrick and Jensen's bodies were found that linked the man to both women, but the police spkesperson would not elaborate.
  
   Charges are expected Wednesday.
  
   "This is one that we want to make sure there isn't a technicality that he could get off on," Elledge said.
  
   "I have total faith the detectives have done their homework," David Jensen, Arlene's son, said last weekend. David and his wife attended Dittrick's funeral last Saturday. He said he had been in contact with Dianna Russell, Dittrick's mother, since before the arrest was made.
  
   "I hoped for an arrest earlier," he said. "It's been difficult ... 81 days. Sometimes I thought [an arrest] would be made a certain week. It's been a real roller coaster," David said. "Just when it can't get worse you get bits of information that take [the case] in a direction nobody wants."
  
   "The person who murdered my mom needs to be held responsible and brought to justice," David said.