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Linda Malcom: Obtaining Clues about the Killer’s Weapon

By Jennifer Bucholtz
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice and Forensic Science 

Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles examining the details surrounding the murder of Linda Malcom. The first article provides information on the known facts and evidence in her case. Read the second article to learn about crowdsourcing and how this tactic can greatly assist in solving cold cases. The third article offers information on the use of victimology and how it can be applied to Linda’s case. The fourth article details my recent visit to the Port Orchard area.

On the night of April 29 or during the early morning hours of April 30, 2008, Linda Malcom was attacked and killed inside her home in Port Orchard, Washington. She suffered multiple stab wounds that resulted in her death, and then her house was set on fire.

Fortunately, the fire did not destroy Linda’s remains. As a result, the coroner was able to conduct a full autopsy.

In a podcast interview that investigative journalist George Jared and I conducted with knife designer and expert Jeff Schafer, Jeff revealed some pertinent information about the style of knife Linda’s killer likely used. He also provided us with additional insight on the significance of some of her injuries.

An Overview of Linda Malcom’s Injuries

During the attack that resulting in her death, Linda was stabbed approximately 24 times in various areas on the upper half of her body. She suffered several defensive wounds to her hands and forearms, as well as injuries to her chest and back.

Linda’s wounds. Image courtesy of Jen Bucholtz.

It’s clear that Linda Malcom attempted to fend off her attacker by using her arms. Jeff feels confident that Linda and her killer were likely involved in a dynamic fight, with both of them moving about until she was incapacitated.

Linda suffered at least four lethal wounds, any of which would have resulted in her death without immediate medical attention. There were two penetrating injuries to her liver, one to the right atrium of her heart and one to her spinal cord.

The majority of injuries to Linda’s chest area were horizontal. The horizontal nature of these injuries seemed peculiar to me, so I asked Jeff if there was any significance to the direction of the wounds found on Linda Malcom.

He explained that the wound pattern could be indicative of her killer having some martial arts and/or military training. Turning a knife blade horizontally in order to use it is a technique designed to enable a blade to slide between human ribs, instead of getting wedged between them.

Determining the Profile of the Murder Weapon

By examining photos of Linda’s wounds, Jeff was able to determine that the blade of the knife used was quite thin. The thin nature of the blade doesn’t necessarily equal poor quality.

Actually, thin knife blades are more flexible and less prone to breaking. Also, the coroner found no evidence that the knife broke, which further supports the observation that the blade was thin.

The murder weapon was a single-edged blade, such as the type seen on all kitchen knives. Further proof is provided by the sharp slicing of the skin on one end of Linda’s knife injuries and a dull tearing of the skin at the other end.

Jeff opined that the knife probably did not have a hilt, which is designed to protect a person’s hand from sliding down the knife blade. He found no evidence of hilt marks on Linda’s skin or around her injuries.

Based on the depth of the deepest injuries, Jeff estimated that the knife blade was approximately four to five inches in length and approximately one inch in width.

Based on his analysis, Jeff believes the knife Linda’s killer used was either a small kitchen knife or a pocketknife.

buck knife Linda Malcom
A buck knife. This type of knife might have been used in the attack on Linda Malcom. Image courtesy of Jeff Schafer.
kitchen knife Linda Malcom
A small kitchen knife, another likely type of weapon the killer might have used.

Was the Killer Injured during the Murder?

Because the knife used by Linda’s killer likely had no hilt, there is a high probability that the perpetrator sliced his or her own hand during the attack. Jeff explained that after delivering several injuries to Linda, the knife likely became bloody and slippery.

There are a few injuries on Linda Malcom that indicate the killer’s knife hit a bone. When a knife hits a bone, the motion of the knife unexpectedly stops and the attacker’s instinct is to grab it tighter to maintain control.

Additionally, when the knife movement is suddenly forced to a stop, the attacker’s hand often continues to move along the knife blade. Depending upon which way the attacker holds the knife, the result is a slice to the palm of the gripping hand or the fingers.

In Linda’s case, there is a small circular injury to the skin on top of her sternum. Jeff believes this wound caused injury to the killer’s hand.

The sternum is a large bone and is difficult to penetrate. The wound pattern indicates the killer attempted to stab Linda in this location, but her sternum prevented the knife from traveling any further.

Did Linda Malcom Arm Herself with a Weapon?

Jeff noted that Linda had many more defensive injuries to her right hand and arm than on her left side. The location of these injuries may indicate that Linda had a weapon of some sort in her dominant (right) hand in an attempt to confront or fend off her attacker.

Normally, if a victim puts up a defense against an attacker holding a knife, the forearms are used to deflect the attack. It’s not typical to see so many injuries to the back of a victim’s hand or a victim’s wrist – which was the case with Linda Malcom – because the hand isn’t very effective at preventing injury from someone wielding a knife. 

If two people are facing each other, each with a non-firearm weapon in one hand, the initial goal will be to disarm the opponent. In order to accomplish this goal, both the attacker and the victim will direct their force toward the other person’s hand that holds a weapon.

Readers Can Help Linda Malcom Get Justice

Readers who want to follow the renewed investigation into Linda’s case can listen to Season 3 of Break The Case, an investigative podcast hosted by George Jared and I. Readers may also join the Facebook group dedicated to seeking justice for Linda Malcom. Group administrators regularly post updates and topics for discussion.

Anyone who possesses information about the death of Linda Malcom can email our confidential tip line at or call Detective Walton of the Port Orchard Police Department at 360-876-1700.

All tipsters are guaranteed confidentiality and anonymity if they wish. There is currently a $5,250 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Linda’s killer.

Jennifer Bucholtz

Jennifer Bucholtz is a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent and a decorated veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice, a master of arts in criminal justice and a master of science in forensic sciences. Bucholtz has an extensive background in U.S. military and Department of Defense counterintelligence operations. Bucholtz has also worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. She is currently an adjunct faculty member and teaches courses in criminal justice and forensic sciences. Additionally, she is a sworn civilian investigator for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department and host of AMU’s investigative podcast Break the Case. You can contact her at

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