No trace of missing girl found
SEAN ROBINSON; The News Tribune
Tiger Mountain in Issaquah yielded the remains of someone’s family pet Wednesday, but no trace of 12-year-old Zina Linnik, missing from Tacoma since July 4.
“I think Tiger Mountain’s all done,” said Mark Fulghum, Tacoma police spokesman.
FBI searchers left the east King County site before midday, concluding that a spot of freshly dug earth where a pet had been buried had nothing to do with the girl’s disappearance.
A Parkland man detained Monday and questioned by police remained the only person of interest in the case, though investigators were pursuing multiple leads and continuing to ask for tips from the public. A $16,000 reward for information leading to Zina and the person suspected of taking her waited to be claimed.
The Parkland man, 42, a convicted sex offender, denied involvement in Linnik’s disappearance, according to search warrant records. He was being detained by federal immigration officials and was also charged this week in Pierce County Superior Court with failing to register as a sex offender.
The 1990 criminal conviction “a crime of violence” should have led to the man’s deportation, according to Lorie Dankers of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“He escaped our attention,” Dankers said. She added that Tacoma police told immigration officials about the 1990 conviction this week. It provided the basis for his detention.
Though the man cooperated with police at first, he was no longer doing so and had asked for an attorney, Fulghum said.
Clothing found at the man’s home and described as “girl’s undergarments” in search warrant documents is in the hands of FBI analysts. The clothing and other items recovered from the home and van were being tested for potential evidence, Fulghum said.
Fulghum did not know when forensic tests of the clothing would be complete. FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt didn’t know, either.
Zina disappeared about 9:45 p.m. July 4, police say. She was last seen in the alley near her family’s home in the 2500 block of South J Street in Tacoma and was believed to have been abducted.
The girl’s father, Mikhail, said he heard a scream from the alley and saw what he described as an older-model gray van that sped away.
The Tiger Mountain search stemmed from “the same initial lead,” that led investigators to the Parkland man, Fulghum said, adding that it wasn’t spurred by any statements from the man.
“It was different information that came up from looking at him,” Fulghum said. “But it wasn’t anything we found at the house or the van or that he told us to go do.”
According to search warrant records, police ran a computer search that led to the man’s van. The color, model and license plate numbers listed in state vehicle records fit the partial description of a vehicle seen at the time of Linnik’s disappearance.
When police questioned the man, they noticed the plates on his van had been changed. The man said his original plates had been stolen several months earlier, and he couldn’t afford to buy new ones. The News Tribune is not naming the man because he had not been charged with any crime connected to Linnik’s disappearance. Pierce County court records show he was convicted of first-degree incest in 1990. The victim was a teenage relative.
The man underwent a court-ordered psychological evaluation as part of that case and was diagnosed with pedophilia, according to court records.
“He is an angry and poorly controlled man with a plethora of psychological, emotional and behavioral problems,” according to a report compiled for the court by evaluator Michael Comte.
The man was sentenced to 60 days in jail and 60 months of sex offender treatment, which he completed. His treatment provider wrote to a judge that the man had “demonstrated that he is using the skills and techniques gleaned in sex-offender treatment on a day-to-day basis to avoid recidivism.”
The man is originally from Thailand, according to court records. His family came to America in 1977. He served in the Army, enlisting in 1983.
IF YOU’VE Seen her
Zina Linnik is 4 feet 10 inches tall, 80 pounds and has blond hair. She was last seen wearing a pink T-shirt, pink-orange-and-yellow capri pants and flip-flop sandals.
Anyone with information about Zina’s disappearance or whereabouts is urged to call Tacoma police at 253-830-6508 or visit www.washingtonamberalert.com
There is a $16,000 reward for information in the case. What:
Tacoma police will offer information and answer questions about the Zina Linnik case at a community meeting tonight.
Peace Community Center, 2106 S. Cushman Ave.
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.