Terapon Adhahn, prime suspect in the abduction and slaying of 12-year-old Zina Linnik, settled in Pierce County no earlier than December 1989, according to available public records.
The date is a crucial one – investigators from Tacoma police and the FBI are checking the grim possibility that Adhahn, 42, is tied to other cases of missing and slain children.
Zina Linnik went missing July 4 from behind her family’s home on Tacoma’s Hilltop. Her body was found Thursday in East Pierce County.
A 1989 arrival date, if accurate, could eliminate Adhahn as a person of interest in prominent unsolved cases from the 1980s, including the 1986 slayings of Michella Welch and Jenny Bastian.
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Court records from Adhahn’s 1990 conviction for incest include a jail intake form filled out on March 26, 1990. On the form, Adhahn was asked to provide information such as his birthdate, marital status and prior addresses.
On the form, Adhahn listed his prior address as “Germany,” where he enlisted in the Army as a teenager. The form includes his then-current Tacoma address, and asks, “How long in Pierce County?”
Adhahn’s answer: 31/2 months, placing his arrival somewhere in December 1989.
However, an earlier date is still possible. Tacoma police spokesman Chris Taylor said Saturday that FBI investigators have suggested that Adhahn, who served in the Army, might have been assigned to Fort Lewis for a time in 1986. Taylor did not know whether investigators have documentary evidence to support the date.
If true, his stay might have been brief. Searches of commercial public-record databases, which can be unreliable, show Adhahn at military addresses in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York and Virginia in the mid- to late 1980s.
Military assignment and residence aren’t the same thing. The transient nature of military service is one of the difficulties investigators face in building a timeline of Adhahn’s movements. Taylor said five detectives are working on the case, with assistance from the FBI.
Formal charges against Adhahn are expected this week, according to county prosecutors and Police Chief Don Ramsdell. Until then, Adhahn remains in federal custody on unrelated immigration violations.
He has not provided a formal statement to police. Ramsdell said the information that led to the discovery of Zina’s body came from Adhahn’s attorney.
While police and the FBI spoke of examining Adhahn’s possible links to other cases, including the 2005 slaying of 10-year-old Adre’anna Jackson, the inquiry is still in its early stages.
“We don’t have any confirmed evidence linking him to other cases at this time,” Taylor said. After Friday’s frenzy of media coverage, police offered no new announcements or information about the progress of the case.
On Saturday, a steady stream of visitors – some acquainted with Zina but most not – stopped in front of her family’s home on Tacoma’s Hilltop to add to a makeshift memorial.
They left flowers, balloons and prayers for the 12-year-old girl who was snatched from an alley behind her home where she’d been watching fireworks.
“We were praying and hoping until the end,” said Yelena Bazan, who visited the memorial Saturday with her four children.
She didn’t know the Linniks, but Bazan said she has followed Zina’s story. She wanted her children to see the memorial.
Two officers from the Tacoma Police Department stood watch in front of the Linniks’ home as people left notes and flowers. Some said a prayer or two and left, while others quietly wept in front of Zina’s picture.
The Linnik family stayed inside, receiving guests and occasionally watching the memorial grow from their front porch.
Zina’s uncle Dmitriy said the Linnik family spent the day preparing for Zina’s memorial service, scheduled for today at the Slavic Christian Center in Tacoma.
Relatives were coming from around the state and country, said Dmitriy, who declined to give his last name.
Many have offered the Linniks help, including a few visitors Saturday who gave the Tacoma police officers cash to deliver to the family.
Ornecta Shaw said she felt compelled to visit the Linniks’ home. She didn’t know the family or Zina, but Shaw said she, too, has lost a child.
“The Lord put it in my heart to come and give my prayer,” she said.
A REGISTERED VOTER
Adhahn’s immigration status and his conviction for a sex offense raised questions last week about official oversight of his movements – his status as a registered voter could add more fuel to such inquiries.
Public records show Adhahn registered to vote in 2002 from an address in Spanaway. He should have been barred from doing so – he was a legal permanent resident, not a U.S. citizen.
Moreover, he was a convicted sex offender, which should have created another bar to registration.
Political blogger Stefan Sharkansky took note of Adhahn’s voter registration Friday and posted the information on www.soundpolitics.com, where he writes frequently on voter issues.
“A fair number of non-citizens do register and do vote,” he said Saturday. “There’s no real database that’s accurate and available to the public that tells you who is or is not a citizen.”
A memorial service for Zina Linnik will be held at 10 this morning at the Slavic Christian Center, 2014 S. 15th St. in Tacoma. How to help the Linnik family
Three accounts have been opened for donations to Zina Linnik’s family:
• The Zina Linnik Memorial Fund at Key Bank. Donations can be made at any branch.
• The Tacoma Police Department opened an account for the Linnik family at TAPCO Credit Union. Locations are available at www.tapcocu.org or by calling 253-565-9895.
• The Linnik Memorial Fund at any Bank of America branch. The money can be withdrawn only by Zina’s father.
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
Staff writer Kelly Kearsley contributed to this report.