Man found guilty in 1991 cold case murder in Federal Way

May 25, 2023, 12:05 PM | Updated: 1:00 pm


From left, an image of Patrick Leon Nicholas; victim Sarah Yarborough, who was found dead Dec. 14, 1991 near Federal Way High School. (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Update 12:05 p.m.: 

Patrick Leon Nicholas was sentenced Thursday to 548 months (slightly more than 45.5 years) for the 1991 cold case murder of Federal Way teen Sarah Yarborough.

On May 10, Patrick Leon Nicholas was found guilty of murder by a jury.

Original Story:

Patrick Leon Nicholas was found guilty of murder by a jury for the 1991 cold case murder of Federal Way teen Sarah Yarborough.

His trial began April 17 at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, where he was eventually found guilty of first-degree felony murder with sexual motivation and second-degree murder with sexual motivation. Nichols was found not guilty of premeditated murder in the first degree.

Arrest made in 27-year-old murder of Federal Way teen Sarah Yarborough

“Had we had the opportunity and the ability years ago to run familial testing, we would have identified, conceivably, that brother, and it would have helped us to narrow down and figure out who ultimately was responsible for this particular crime,” retired King County homicide detective Kathy Decker told KIRO 7.

On Dec. 14, 1991, 16-year-old Sarah Yarborough was found raped and murdered on the campus of Federal Way High School after she was last seen leaving her home to go to a high school dance competition. Both her car and her body were discovered on campus later that day.

Nicholas was arrested in 2019 after police used DNA testing at the crime scene.

Court documents revealed Nicholas had a record of sex crimes and lived in the area when Yarborough was killed.

KIRO 7 News contributed to this report.

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Man found guilty in 1991 cold case murder in Federal Way