Jeffrey Paul Premo killed Jennifer Brinkman in 1998

Jennifer Brinkman, victim of a Cold Case murder, appears in a photo shared by police

Jennifer Brinkman

Jennifer Brinkman was just 19 years old when she was murdered with an ax in March 1998 in the bedroom of her father’s home in Marysville, Washington. Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, police say they’ve finally solved the long-running cold case.

The victim was home alone at the time of the horrific incident. Her father was out of town during a vacation in California — a trip she originally planned to take part in, before changing her mind at the last minute. When Brinkman’s father returned to their Grove Street home with his then-girlfriend, they discovered the worst.

Jeffrey Paul Premo52, was arrested on Nov. 28, 2022 and charged with first-degree murder, the Marysville Police Department said Tuesday press conference.

“It’s one of those things where it never leaves your thought process because it remains unresolved,” MPD Commander Robb Lamoureux, said the original detective assigned to the Brinkman murder case. “Just yesterday when we made the arrest and I was sitting at home thinking about it, it really struck that we have a conclusion on that and we can finally put it on a shelf and have closure not just for us as investigators, who were involved, but also for the family and the community.”

Police said the ax was used to hit the victim in the neck and was left in the home after the murder. Investigators collected a DNA sample from the ax during the initial investigation, but technology at the time, which was still in its infancy at the time, ruled out a match to that sample.

The case was recently reopened, police said, and that DNA sample was sent to Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based company with a national reputation for helping law enforcement identify cold cases through advanced forensic testing and mapping techniques to solve.

According to police, three possible suspects were identified by the company earlier this year. Eventually, law enforcement issued a search warrant and secured a DNA sample from Premo, who lives and works near Puget Sound in Renton, Washington. That DNA, obtained through a warrant, the MPD said, was sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab and matched with DNA found on the axe, MPD Detective Wade Redigersaid the current lead investigator on the case.

The accused was allegedly identified as an interested person right at the beginning of the investigation, the police said. Premo reportedly denied even knowing the victim, but officials said they later found out he had written a letter to Brinkman shortly before her death.

In addition, Rediger said police found evidence that the defendant “attempted to meet with” the victim “around the time of her death.”

Law enforcement shared additional details about the relationship between the alleged killer and the cold case victim.

“Jennifer was a social individual,” MPD Detective Sergeant James Maple said. “She encouraged conversation like she was going to the library or walking around town. She engaged in phone chat lines, dating sites, and actively sought out people’s company.”

Police believe Brinkman met her killer through one of these chat lines. During a question-and-answer session with local media, police identified the chatline as a “nightline,” a system where anonymous people call and are connected to other anonymous people of the opposite sex.

The girl’s father died in 2013, but law enforcement said news of the arrest was shared with Brinkman’s mother.

“She was extremely emotional,” Lamoureux said. “She cried and was very grateful for the work we put into it. I think it was overwhelming for her to finally have an answer.”

Premo is currently in the Snohomish County Jail.

“Resolving this case has been a top priority for the Marysville Police Department for more than 24 years,” the MPD chief said Eric Scairpon said. “We never gave up or put it on the shelf. It was continually investigated in the belief that one day we would be able to achieve some degree of closure for the family and justice for Jennifer.”

[image via Marysville Police Department]

Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected] Jeffrey Paul Premo killed Jennifer Brinkman in 1998

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