Police arrest man in Tri-Cities cold case murder from 1986

Police arrest man in Tri-Cities cold case murder from 1986
Robert McDonald

Police have made an arrest in a 32-year-old cold case murder in Pasco.

Theodore Milam, 54, is accused of assaulting a man before leaving him to drown along the Columbia River.

Robert McDonald was found dead Feb. 25, 1986. His body was floating in a lagoon at the Pasco Boat Basin near Schlagel Park in Pasco.

His body was floating there for several hours, unnoticed, before some park visitors saw the body floating in the water. The victim’s pickup was found nearby.

An autopsy showed he had been bound and beaten before he was put in the water. His cause of death was determined to be drowning.

An intensive years-long investigation led only to dead ends, police said.

As forensic research became more advanced in 2006, a DNA swab from McDonald’s body linked Milam to the crime. The DNA was submitted to a national database. On Feb. 1, Pasco police were informed of a match.

Milam was arrested Tuesday night in Spokane and charged with first-degree murder.

He is also being held on charges of first-degree rape, kidnapping and burglary among other charges.

Police originally reported the suspect was 54 years old. This story has been updated.