Black River Technical College’s (BRTC) fire science program recently assisted the American Military University Cold Case Team (AMUCCT) in recreating a murder scene that had been destroyed by fire.
Linda Malcom was a 47-year-old Navy Veteran who worked as a paralegal in Port Orchard, Washington. Her body was found in the ashes of her home on April 30, 2008. However, Malcom was found to have perished from over a dozen stab wounds, any of which could have killed her, before her home was set on fire.
“Linda was stabbed to death on or about April 30th in her Port Orchard home. The house she was stabbed in was set on fire. We’re not sure if one person stabbed her and another person came along and set the fire or if there were two people involved. This happened about 3:45 in the morning when the fire started. The reason we know that is that a newspaper delivery person threw a newspaper at 3:45 and didn’t report anything, but fifteen minutes later a neighbor reported that the house was on fire,” said AMUCCT member George Jared.
“This house is very similar to Linda’s home. The way it’s set up is almost identical but reverse. The rooms are exactly the opposite of each other, so this is actually a really good test. She was found in her bedroom on a waterbed, so we are trying to figure out a couple of things. Where was the fire started, what accelerant was used, and how did the waterbed affect the situation?”
BRTC fire science Instructor Alan Haskins in conjunction with the Pocahontas Fire Department used control burns for training purposes, but when Haskins noticed the similarities between the two houses, he reached out to the AMUCCT with the possibility of learning more about Malcom’s case.
The AMUCCT team is spearheaded by former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent and Professor of Forensics at American Military University Jennifer Bucholtz. Other members are Investigative Journalist George Jared, Licensed Social Worker Melissa Sandburg, Podcast Producer Justin Rimmel, and Alan Haskins.
“We thought this is the perfect time to test a few theories we had about the killer,” Jared said. “We weren’t sure what impact the water bed would have on the scene, so we recreated the scene using a waterbed and a pig, as pigs have flesh that is similar to humans. We also added an accelerant in the area where we believe the fire was started. We can see how the fire would’ve reacted in a similar setting.”
The home that was set on fire was located at 1309 Carter St., in Pocahontas.
To hear more about the case or learn what the team learned on this day, you can follow the AMUCCT on their Facebook page Break the Case: Unsolved Murder of Linda Malcom as well as the podcast with the same name on Apple podcast.
For more information about the BRTC fire science program, contact Fire Science Instructor Alan Haskins at (870) 248-4129 or