Multnomah County
District Attorney

1200 SW 1st Avenue, Suite 5200
Portland, OR 97204
503-988-3162

Multnomah County District Attorney

 
1200 SW 1st Avenue, Suite 5200
| Portland, OR 97204
| 503-988-3162
 

Court Finds Robert Plympton Guilty in 1980 Cold Case Murder

March 18, 2024

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt today announced that a Multnomah County judge delivered a guilty verdict for Robert Arthur Plympton, 60, for the 1980 murder of Barbara Tucker near Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.

Incident

Close to 7:00 p.m. on January 15, 1980, Barbara Tucker, a student at Mt. Hood Community College, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and beaten to death near a campus parking lot by Robert Plympton. On the morning of January 16, 1980, students arriving for class at Mt. Hood Community College discovered the body of Ms. Tucker in a wooded area between Kane Rd and a school parking lot. In 2000, vaginal swabs taken during Ms. Tucker’s autopsy were sent to the Oregon State Police (OSP) Crime Lab for analysis. The Crime Lab developed a DNA profile from the swabs.

In 2021, a genealogist with Parabon Nanolabs identified Robert Plympton as a likely contributor to the unknown DNA profile developed in 2000. Detectives with the Gresham Police Department found Plympton living in Troutdale and began conducting surveillance. When they saw Plympton spit a piece of chewing gum onto the ground, detectives collected the gum and submitted it to the OSP Crime Lab. The lab determined the DNA profile developed from the chewing gum matched the DNA profile developed from Ms. Tucker’s vaginal swabs. On June 8, 2021, Plympton was taken into custody and lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center.

Bench Trial

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden and Senior Deputy District Attorney Todd Jackson represented the state at trial, which took place in front of Judge Amy Baggio from February 26 to March 15, 2024. Judge Baggio delivered her verdict on March 15 finding Plympton guilty of one count of Murder in the First Degree, and four counts of different theories of Murder in the Second Degree.

Sentencing has been scheduled for June 21 in front of Judge Baggio. Plympton remains in custody in Multnomah County.

The DA’s Office wishes to thank the Gresham Police Department detectives and the forensic experts at the OSP Crime Lab and Parabon Labs whose work was instrumental in bringing long-awaited justice to Ms. Tucker’s family and friends.

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