SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Investigators who never gave up on a 27-year-old murder that had become a cold case decided to take DNA from the crime scene in 1993 and send it to a commercial genealogy DNA company. Those results were then uploaded to a public genealogy website where the investigators were able to find promising leads that identified a murder suspect’s relatives.
Then, 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. 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.
Because of this arrest, 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 attached 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.
Detectives confirmed Dean was living on Madison Street in Everett in 1993; his residence was approximately 3.6 miles from where Lee’s body was found. He worked dayshift at Boeing in Everett prior to the killing.
“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.”
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. 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.
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.
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.
Captions for attached photos:
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.
Melissa Lee Cold Case Playing Card
This is Melissa Lee’s cold case playing card. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit created a deck of playing cards, the first in Washington State, and distributes them to inmates, offering a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
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.