Note: This is the first in a series of articles reviewing and analyzing the facts and evidence related to the murder of Linda Malcom.
Many readers have followed the work of myself and my investigative partner, George Jared, on two previously unsolved homicide cases: Rebekah Gould and Debbie Williamson. We relied heavily on crowdsourcing tactics in both of those cases, and our methodology was successful in helping to achieve the arrest and conviction of Rebekah’s killer according to NBC affiliate KAIT-8.
Over the past several months, we have received dozens of requests for assistance on other unsolved homicide cases. George and I evaluated each submission for suitability, identifying those cold cases where we felt our investigative methods would be most useful.
A student at American Military University (AMU), who was also the victim’s nephew, submitted the case of Linda Malcom for our consideration. Through the course of our research, we learned that Linda was a Navy veteran who had settled in Port Orchard, Washington. After several weeks of research and meetings with some of Linda’s family members, we decided to take on her case.
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What Happened to Linda Malcom?
On Wednesday, April 30, 2008, dispatchers in Port Orchard received a 911 call at 3:58 a.m. The call came from one of Linda’s neighbors, reporting that Linda’s house was engulfed in flames.
Multiple fire trucks and responders arrived at the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home at 4:21 a.m. Not only was the house ablaze, but nearby trees were also on fire and responders observed downed power lines in the front yard. Firefighters extinguished the fire by 5:03 a.m. and although the structure of Linda’s house was still intact, it was damaged beyond repair.
Prior to the fire department’s arrival, two of Linda’s neighbors attempted to gain entry to the burning home, suspecting that Linda might be inside. Upon opening the door, they were met with such intense heat and flames that they were unable to get inside.
Once first responders entered Linda’s home, they discovered the charred remains of Linda Malcom in the master bedroom, situated at the southeast corner of the house. It was readily apparent that she’d been stabbed multiple times and that her death was a homicide. The coroner who conducted Linda’s autopsy later also provided confirmation that Linda did not die naturally.
When Linda’s Death Likely Occurred
At the time of this writing, the last known proof of life for Linda was a $116.52 purchase she made with her debit card at a Safeway grocery store at 2:16 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29. She reportedly spoke on the phone with a friend Tuesday evening, but without official phone records, that information is not possible to confirm at this time. Therefore, the window of time during which Linda was killed extends from approximately 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29 to 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, April 30, a period of roughly 13 hours.
The Means, Motive and Opportunity in the Linda Malcom Case
Many prosecutors and investigators adhere to the adage that the perpetrator of a crime must have the “means, motive, and opportunity.” This trio of factors provides insight into the killer’s actions before, during and after a crime.
In Linda’s case, her killer must have had the necessary means to successfully complete the crime. That would have involved – at a minimum – access to a knife, adequate strength to overpower Linda, knowledge of how to start a fire and a successful escape route/method. The killer may have been injured during an altercation with Linda and would have needed to successfully treat and disguise those injuries in the days or weeks after her homicide.
Motive is not required to prove a case in criminal court. However, it certainly helps.
In Linda’s case, the killer went above and beyond the necessary actions to simply kill Linda Malcom. The perpetrator stabbed her more times than was necessary to kill her and took the time to set her house on fire. These actions may provide a clue regarding the motive and relationship between Linda and her killer.
For instance, Linda Malcom may have been the target of a sexual assault that got out of hand. She may have had a guest over for consensual sex, but it’s also possible that an argument occurred and escalated to the point of physical violence.
Robbery cannot be ruled out in Linda’s case, either. Though the interior of her home was heavily damaged, her furniture and appliances were readily recognizable, and investigators took inventory of all of the contents that were identifiable. That list of contents remains confidential at this time, but there may be evidence that indicates the killer stole some items.
Murder may not have even been the original intent. Someone may have wanted to threaten Linda into keeping a secret, seek revenge, or force her to follow through on a promise or plan.
In addition to means and motive, the killer must have had the opportunity. If Linda’s murder was premeditated, the perpetrator of this crime would have needed prior knowledge of her location and movements that Tuesday. If the attack occurred on Tuesday night, the killer must have known Linda was home alone and was not expecting any company, aside from the killer.
Regardless of whether the murder was premeditated or not, her killer would have needed to take time away from work, family, or other responsibilities. That time off would have provided him or her with enough time to gain access to Linda’s home, confront her, attack and kill her, and then set at least one fire. The killer would also have needed time after the homicide to clean up, change clothes, bandage any wounds incurred during the murder and possibly clean any blood from a vehicle.
The window of opportunity would have been at leastan hour. It would also have to have been a time when no one would expect the perpetrator to appear at any scheduled commitment.
Readers Are Urged to Get Involved in Helping Us Solve the Homicide of Linda Malcom
Readers who want to follow the future progress of Linda’s case should listen to Season 3 of Break The Case, an investigative podcast covering the current investigation of Linda’s murder. Readers may also join the Facebook group dedicated to resolving this case and getting justice for Linda. Updates and discussion topics are regularly posted by group administrators.
Anyone with information about the death of Linda Malcom can email our confidential tip line email@example.com or call Detective Walton of the Port Orchard Police Department at 360-876-1700. All tipsters are guaranteed confidentiality and anonymity if they wish.