Video: Sex offender eyed in 12-year-old's death

updated 7/13/2007 10:54:52 PM ET 2007-07-14T02:54:52

A Thai immigrant convicted of incest led investigators to the body of a 12-year-old girl who had been missing since the Fourth of July, and is expected to be charged in her death, authorities said Friday.

Police are also trying to determine whether Terapon Adhahn, 42, is connected to other missing child cases that date back to 1986.

Zina Linnik, abducted during a neighborhood fireworks display, died from “homicidal violence,” said Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum and the Pierce County medical examiner’s office. Her body was found in a rural wooded area after information from Adhahn’s lawyer led police and FBI agents there, authorities said.

Adhahn is expected to be charged with the girl’s abduction and death, Police Chief Don Ramsdell said. He has been cooperating with detectives but has yet to provide a complete statement, Ramsdell said. Court documents said he initially denied involvement.

Disappeared at fireworks show
Zina disappeared July 4 after being sent down an alley behind her home to bring back some of her siblings, who had wandered off to watch fireworks. Her father heard her scream, found a single flip flop on the ground and saw a boxy gray van driving away. His partial recollection of the license plate number led investigators to Adhahn.

A search of the Parkland home south of Tacoma where Adhahn had been staying turned up “girl’s undergarments,” according to a search warrant return.

At the Linnik home Friday, visitors left stuffed animals, flowers and cards.

Adhahn apparently made his living as a handyman, police said. He served two months in jail and completed five years of sex offender treatment following a 1990 incest conviction after he violently raped a female relative, according to court records.

Man claimed he'd been abused
During an evaluation in August 1990, Adhahn told a therapist he’d been sexually molested countless times by an older brother when he was between the ages of 7 and 9 years old, according to court records. He also said his biological father was an abusive alcoholic.

The therapist called Adhahn’s personality profile “extremely problematic.” But by the time Adhahn completed sex offender treatment in 1997, his counselor wrote that he had made adequate progress and was actively involved in weekly group therapy.

Adhahn, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., could not have been deported for the incest conviction because it was not an aggravated felony and it was his first offense, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Friday. But a 1992 conviction for intimidation with a dangerous weapon could have made him deportable, and Adhahn was being held this week on an immigration complaint. He also was charged with failing to register as a sex offender.

The Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel, which is representing Adhahn, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Links to other crimes eyed
Officials said investigators were reviewing two other child homicides and two to three other disappearances for any connection to Adhahn. Specifically, authorities wanted to know whether there were any similarities in the disappearances.

The cases being reviewed by police date back more than 20 years. Michella Welch, 12, of Tacoma, was found dead hours after the girl disappeared from a park on March 26, 1986. Later that year, Jennifer Bastian, 13, of Tacoma, was found dead in a park where she’d been last seen riding her bicycle two weeks earlier.

Other cases under review by authorities include a 4-year-old who vanished in 1995 and a 10-year old who vanished last year.

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