Family says teen can ‘rest in peace’ after Bothell man convicted of 1993 murder

Mar 29, 2024, 1:30 PM

Photo: Sharon Lee, Melissa's mother, stands next to Sheriff Fortney on Wednesday after there was a ...

Sharon Lee, Melissa's mother, stands next to Sheriff Fortney on Wednesday after there was a break in Melissa's Lee's Bothell cold case in 2020. (Photo: Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

(Photo: Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

Thirty-one years later, the family of Melissa Lee can rest knowing her killer is behind bars.

Lee, who was 15 in 1993, was murdered by Alan Dean, who was 35 at the time, as reported by the Everett Herald.

Dean was convicted on Thursday in a decades-long cold case.

Past coverage: Genetic genealogy lands 1993 Everett murder suspect

The Lynnwood Times reported Lee was home alone in Bothell in April 1993. She was planning to have a friend come over, but she never made it. When Lee’s mother arrived around midnight, she found the door slightly open, milk spilled on the floor, a table moved and Lee absent from the home.

Lee’s mother reported her missing and police found Lee’s body the next day in a ravine. An autopsy confirmed she died from being strangled.

A further investigation revealed she met Dean, who used the name “Mike” through a night talk line for strangers. According to the Everett Herald, Dean was working as a Boeing mechanic at the time and went out with Lee twice before he murdered her.

The Lynwood Times cited detectives who shared that Dean was also involved in a sexual assault of a minor in Arizona in 1985.

Fast forward to 2020, Snohomish County detectives announced a break in the case. A discarded cigarette led to Dean’s arrest for murder and kidnapping.

“Holding back tears, Sharon Lee, mother of the victim said, ‘I am so happy I got to live long enough to see this happen. I hope he (Dean) rots in hell,'” wrote the Lynnwood Times.

However, Dean was deemed unfit to stand trial. But after years of treatment, in February 2023, a judge found Dean fit for trial, according to the Everett Herald.

Dean’s trial started earlier this month and lasted eight days. On Thursday he was finally convicted of murdering Lee.

More cold cases: Tacoma Police seek help in cold case of veteran’s 2020 murder

“I want to thank you so much for not giving up on my sister because she can rest in peace,” Lee’s younger sister said, as reported by the Everett Herald. “To me, I thought (my sister’s case) would never be solved.”

Dean faces 20 to 26.5 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for April 24.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

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