Body of rape suspect found in LA 15 years after presumed Tacoma suicide

Mar 14, 2024, 12:53 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

kitsap rape suspect...

Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The body of a Kitsap County suspect — who was presumed dead for 15 years after jumping off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge — was discovered in a Los Angeles apartment last month.

The Los Angeles County medical examiner identified the body as Christian Robert Basham on Thursday and advised the Bremerton Police Department (BPD). Officers confirmed the man found dead was the same man who was presumed dead from the jump off the bridge.

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Background of Basham’s charges

Basham was wanted for child rape in Kitsap County back in 2008. According to The Kitsap Sun, he skipped a court appearance before it was believed he jumped off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. His car was found nearby with a suicide note inside.

Basham was facing a minimum sentence of six and a half years in prison. His $350,000 bail was posted before he missed his court appearance.

On March 29, 2009, a witness reported seeing Basham jump from mid-span on the Narrows bridge, according to BPD.

“(Basham) was seen walking towards the midspan of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in a red sweatshirt, according to some witnesses,” KTTH host Bryan Suits said. “If convicted, he was facing a minimum of six and a half years for raping a boy and you know how they treat you in Monroe and/or Walla Walla. It’s a special kind of nightmare for a child rapist to go to a state prison, even in Washington.”

BPD said several agencies searched for his body but never found it.

Basham was living under different name

Basham was found dead on Feb. 26 in California.

Two Los Angeles neighbors of his were the first to discover the body.

“None of us in the building knew, which makes this especially unsettling as he was trusted with a master key for our apartments as a maintenance person,” one neighbor told The Kitsap Sun.

According to The Kitsap Sun, Basham was living in Los Angeles under the name Mark Clemens since he “disappeared” off the Narrows Bridge.

The witness later identified Basham through a booking photo, according to Suits, as his body was never recovered from the water. The cause of death has been deferred, meaning it could take months before authorities know how Basham died.

More on Wash. crime: Woman fatally shot near Garfield High School, scene of earlier shooting

“He clearly wanted to be seen, so it was a setup, the whole thing,” Suits added. “He’s saying goodbye to 30,000 bucks or whatever, the 10% of the bail, and then he invented and reinvented himself as Mr. Clemens, the kindly maintenance guy.”

This is a developing story, check back for updates

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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