Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles examining the details surrounding the Linda Malcom’s murder. 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.
Linda Malcom, 47, was stabbed to death on either Apr. 29 or 30, 2008. Her remains were discovered in the master bedroom of her rental home, located in Port Orchard, Wash. The perpetrator set the home on fire after killing Linda, and her murder remains unsolved.
The University’s Cold Case Investigative Team has taken on Linda’s case with the intent of uncovering new leads and information that will be helpful to the Port Orchard Police Department in making an arrest. Per our team’s standard methodology, I traveled to Port Orchard in November 2022 to conduct some research in the area, meet with officials and examine the location of the crime.
Obtaining Information from Linda’s Autopsy Report
My first appointment was with Jeff Wallis, a former coroner of Kitsap County; he is now retired. Jeff was not the elected coroner at the time of Linda Malcom’s murder, but he was very familiar with her case and provided a great deal of insight into her injuries. He supplied me with a copy of Linda Malcom’s autopsy report and photos taken by the coroner’s death investigator(s) at the crime scene and during Linda’s autopsy.
Jeff explained that Linda was certainly dead before the fire was started due to the absence of soot in her esophagus, trachea and lungs. Linda was no longer breathing while the fire burned inside her home.
Instead, Linda died from the numerous stab wounds she incurred. Four of those wounds were lethal, and any one of them would have resulted in her death, even without the rest of her injuries.
[Related article: Applying Victimology to the Unsolved Murder of Linda Malcom]
The Kitsap Sun Newspaper Takes Interest in the Investigation of Linda Malcom’s Murder
Following my meeting with Jeff, I went to the business office of the Kitsap Sun, a local newspaper. The media can be a powerful tool in increasing public awareness of an unsolved murder.
The Kitsap Sun has published many articles on Linda Malcom’s case throughout the years, and they still have her case featured on their Unsolved Murders page. I was grateful they were willing to publish another update.
Once at the office, I was interviewed by Kimberly Rubenstein. She later published a lengthy article discussing the details surrounding Linda Malcom’s murder and our renewed investigation into her case.
Examining Linda’s Neighborhood
The home in which Linda died was demolished shortly after her murder. A new home was later constructed on the property, and the legal property boundaries were changed. So unfortunately, I could not experience the location as Linda had. But visiting the property still provided valuable insight.
Linda’s home sat on a small lot, directly east and adjacent to Sidney Avenue. There are many neighboring houses nearby and three paved roads of egress to the north, west, and south. The area to the east side of the property is heavily wooded and consists of rough, steep terrain.
The County Courthouse complex is located approximately one half-mile north on Sidney Avenue. Other businesses are located between Linda’s home and the courthouse, including an event center, library and law offices.
If Linda’s killer fled the scene in a vehicle, there are three directions he or she could have taken. The most logical egress would have been to the south along Sidney Avenue, away from downtown Port Orchard and in the opposite direction of the police department.
The southern route is most expedient in terms of accessing roads with higher speed limits and that lead out of town. Had the killer traveled west, he or she would have ended up in another residential neighborhood with no quick escape.
The options for an escape on foot are nearly the same. However, if the killer had knowledge of the local area, one option would have been to flee on foot to the east. However, this option is not logical due to the terrain and the darkness.
On the night of Apr. 29, 2008, the moon was 41% illuminated, which may have provided some ambient light. However, weather conditions that night were reported to be cloudy.
If the killer lived or still resides in the Port Orchard area, he or she likely avoided driving past Linda’s house in the months and years after her murder. This avoidance of Linda Malcom’s murder scene is a common subconscious avoidance among homicide perpetrators, particularly if they had a personal relationship with the victim.
Connecting with Some of Linda’s Friends
In examining Linda’s bank statements and talking with her siblings, I discovered that a bar/restaurant called the Golden Grill on the Bay was one of her favorite hangouts. The business is still actively operating, so I spent time in there each day I was in town. I met numerous people who had known Linda, some of whom had been good friends with her.
The majority of people’s recollections about Linda were overwhelmingly positive. She was clearly outgoing and personable. Linda enjoyed working as a paralegal for the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office at first and at a private law firm later.
In her downtime, Linda loved to hang out with friends, frequent local bars, play cards and sing karaoke. She also enjoyed cooking and having company over for meals.
Speaking With Linda Malcom’s Landlords
I connected with the couple who owned Linda’s rental home. The landlords described Linda as a model tenant who was never late in paying her rent and kept the house tidy.
They recalled feeling remorseful that they had forced her to find a new place to live. She was scheduled to move a day or two after Linda Malcom’s murder.
The landlords wanted to build a new house on the property, but the local ordinance did not allow more than one living structure. Therefore, they were going to be forced to tear down the rental house Linda occupied in order to build a new one.
Meeting with Local Law Enforcement
The Port Orchard Police Department has had jurisdiction over Linda’s case since it occurred. Prior to arriving in town, I contacted the current detective assigned to investigate Linda Malcom’s murder, Detective Walton.
She readily agreed to meet with me in person. I provided her a binder with information on our team concept, biographies and the paperwork I’d accumulated so far that was relevant to the case.
Detective Walton explained that she was not authorized to release their case file to me, but stated she was certainly willing to collaborate. Having the law enforcement case file is not a requirement for our team to work on a case.
In fact, we have often found it beneficial to start fresh, without any influence or bias that might come from reading that original file. Detective Walton provided me with her direct email address and promised to follow up on any new information or tips we sent her. The rest of our conversation was sensitive in nature, so it will remain confidential for now.
Going Public in Our Investigation of Linda Malcom’s Murder
Once I’d made the trip to Port Orchard and met with authorities, our team went public with our involvement in Linda’s case. We created social media accounts and started raising awareness for her case.
Also, we began recording audio of conversations with various people to use in podcast episodes and George and I appeared on other podcasts. Additionally, we contacted experts in particular areas who could provide new insight into her case.
These experts include an arson expert and a knife expert. Their insights will be discussed in detail in a future article and on our podcast, Break the Case.
Readers Can Help Achieve Forward Progress in Linda’s Case
Readers who want to participate in the renewed investigation into the case of Linda Malcom’s murder 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. Updates and topics for discussion will be 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. There is currently a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Linda’s killer.