48 Hours on ID, April 15, 2024, Investigation Discovery, “The Hunt for Sarah Yarborough’s Killer”

48 Hours on ID

In this episode of 48 Hours on ID, airing on Monday April 15, 2024 the hunt is on for Sarah Yarborough’s killer. The 1991 murder of 16-year-old honor student Sarah Yarborough, who was found strangled on her high school campus, shook the community of Federal Way, Washington. Sarah’s body was discovered in an area of overgrown brush, about 300 feet away from her car in the school parking lot. She was partially dressed, and investigators found a full male DNA profile from semen on her clothing.

The Long Search for Her Killer

For almost three decades, the identity of Sarah’s killer remained a mystery. King County investigators chased down over 3,000 leads and continually compared the unknown DNA profile against the CODIS database, but there was no match. It wasn’t until 2019 that they finally got a break.

Through the use of forensic genetic genealogy, investigators identified a man named Patrick Nicholas as a possible suspect. Undercover officers followed him and obtained a cigarette he had smoked. The DNA from that cigarette matched the male profile found on Sarah’s clothing.

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A Troubling Criminal History

Patrick Nicholas had a criminal history that revealed an alarming pattern of behavior. He had been convicted of raping two women and attempting to rape a third, Anne Croney, eight years before Sarah’s murder. Despite Croney’s belief that Nicholas was serving a full 10-year prison sentence, he was released on parole after just three and a half years.

Nicholas was arrested and charged with the murder of Sarah Yarborough. In 2023, more than 30 years after Sarah’s death, he went on trial. The focus of the trial was on the DNA evidence, and the jury found Nicholas guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree murder. He was sentenced to almost 46 years in prison.

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For Sarah’s family and friends, the sentence brought mixed emotions. While they felt relief that her killer had finally been brought to justice, they also grappled with the knowledge that Nicholas had been free for many years, potentially hurting others. Sarah’s friends, bonded by their shared loss, found solace in their connections with each other and Sarah’s family.

48 Hours on ID airs on Monday, April 15, 2024, at 8.00 pm on Investigation Discovery.

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