Fear Factor

Two serial murderers loom among us. Inside the case of the Baseline Killer's first Phoenix victim

The case received little publicity until a few weeks ago, when Phoenix police announced they had linked it to the Baseline Killer.

In any event, that unexpected connection may turn out to be quite a break for Mullins, who surely was on a conveyor belt to state prison on the murder rap had the alleged connection to the Baseline Killer not been made.

After analyzing evidence and interviewing Mullins themselves on July 13, Phoenix cops expressed certainty that he had nothing to do with Thompson's murder, or with the Baseline cases.

The scene of Tina Washington's murder
Paul Rubin
The scene of Tina Washington's murder
Composite drawing of the Baseline Killer
Composite drawing of the Baseline Killer

Phoenix police seem just as sure that the killings of Georgia Thompson and Tina Washington (as well as many other crimes) are linked by strong forensic evidence.

But is there any possibility that the unnamed associate of James Mullins could be the Baseline Killer?

No way, according to Phoenix police.

Tempe police defended themselves (and the Mullins confession) for a few days after the Baseline Killer's alleged connection to the Thompson case went public.

But that agency's been hedging ever since.

"It's frustrating," police sergeant Dan Masters said on July 14. "We now don't know what, if anything, he's been telling us for the last seven months — if any of it's true."

The County Attorney's Office still has not dismissed the murder charge against Mullins.

By the way, naysayers such as Tempe's Sergeant Masters, who have questioned why someone would confess to a murder he did not commit, might want to revisit another infamous local murder case.

In August 1991, nine people, including six Thai monks, were shot execution-style at a Buddhist monastery in the desert west of Phoenix. It was the largest mass murder in Arizona history.

Four young Tucson men linked to the murders by a patient then living in a mental hospital confessed separately to the murders after mind-numbing hours of interrogation by Maricopa County sheriff's detectives.

The detectives and certain high-ranking county prosecutors pooh-poohed the later recantations of the Tucson Four, as they came to be known.

But it turned out that the confessors had nothing to do with the massacre — had not even known about it. Much later, the Four split about $3 million in public money awarded them in an out-of-court civil settlement.

In truth, two west Phoenix teens, Jonathan Doody and Alex Garcia, had done the killings during a robbery gone bad, and are serving life sentences.

The monumental legal mess led to the 1992 election defeat of Sheriff Tom Agnos by a retired DEA agent who promised to clean up the office. His name: Joe Arpaio.

Tina Washington's best friend, Kathy Watson, leaves work at the Cactus Preschool just after 1:30 p.m. on a recent day. She walks over to the bus stop to await the short trip home to Tempe.

Kathy does not drive, and has to use public transportation unless a friend or family member comes by to give her a ride.

It is a little more than seven months since Tina probably took this same route by foot to the bus stop for the last time.

Kathy is wearing a blue tee shirt with the school emblem on it, similar to the shirt Tina was wearing on the day she died.

Though it is in the middle of the day, being at this bus stop gives Kathy the creeps. She has taken to carrying a bottle of Mace on a chain outside her purse, and has become hyper-vigilant about her surroundings.

She is alert and jumpy while awaiting her bus.

"Every day is a struggle for me," Kathy says. "Me and Tina planned to do a lot of things together, go on a trip to Delaware, where I'm from. Just have fun together like we always did."

She touches the haunting crime-scene photo of Tina on the cover of this issue, and speaks to her late friend:

"I know you fought this guy, Miss Tina, and I know he got mad at you, and I know you didn't suffer any before God took you. I'll be all right, and you'll always be with me."

Later, Tina Washington's youngest boy, Red, says he feels his mother's presence around him at all times.

"I know she's still here in spirit, 24/7," he says. "She's in my heart. All of us have a purpose on this Earth, and her purpose must have been done or God would have saved her. I'm not perfect, but she taught me the fundamentals, and the rest is up to me. I got to make her proud."

A few months ago, Red purchased 17 easels at IKEA, where he works on the floor full-time. He distributed them in his mother's memory at one of her favorite places in life, Cactus Preschool.

New Times staff writer Paul Rubin spent a year reporting on the Phoenix Police Department's C-32 homicide squad. It was during this time that Tina Washington was murdered.

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Alisha Coleman
Alisha Coleman

hi tina was a wonderful women. my fiance kenneth washington the third misses her alot she will always be in our hearts. rest in paradise mother in law. to his uncle and his bother call me at 602 507 1756


this was my niece....a wonderful person who did not deserve to leave this world in the manner she did. i too share the "PAIN AND ANIMOSITY " Although it's been five years there is not a day that I don't think of her. We recently had to bury Tina's Grandmother and now the family has to grieve again.I'm not one who wishes to seek revenge on any individual,but as my nephew stated...I sincerely wish whoever is responsible for this crime gets "ALL" they deserve and more Albert Jackson The uncle of Tina Marie Washington

Ricky Cunningham
Ricky Cunningham

I was reading this article about my mom being killed on her way home and I wanted to say that things are as they said. It was one of the most painful things in life to have to lay your own mother to rest on Christmas eve let alone at all! I felt so much anger towards the person that did this to her and I still do. There were a few things in your story that were wrong however. My brother got his nickname from my aunt not his friends. Also my brothers are not named Kenny! Their name is Kenneth Washington the third and the fourth after their father. It may not mean much to you but it is important to my family. I want everyone out there to know that while my mom was a good woman she also said that when people wrong you you have to stand up for yourself. I plan on making sure the person that did this to her gets everything that is coming to them. If you know anything about this murder send me a message at biggdaddy202003@yahoo.com and I will make sure you are heard. Thank you all for your love and support and to the killer watch out because here I come!!!!!!!


to my fiance's brother let god deal with it. but i hear you. hope all is well.

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