Justice Finally Served For Washington Teen Who Was Brutally Murdered In 1991

Over three decades after Sarah Yarborough was brutally murdered on her way to meet her high school drill team, her murderer was finally convicted.

16-year-old honors student Sarah Yarborough, pictured here, was murdered on Dec. 14, 1991.

Over three decades after Sarah Yarborough was brutally murdered on her way to meet her high school drill team, her murderer was finally convicted.

Photo by: King County Sheriff's Office

King County Sheriff's Office

On Dec. 14, 1991, 16-year-old honors student Sarah Yarborough drove herself to Federal High School to attend a drill team event. She never made it to the event, and her body was found by two boys in the woods outside the high school later that day.

The Seattle Times reported that, approximately an hour before she was murdered, Yarborough had rushed out of her home in her drill team uniform with her hair in a ponytail. She was found later that day wearing only her skirt and sweater. Her nylons had been wrapped around her neck and apparently used as the murder weapon. She had been strangled to death.

Although investigators worked hard to solve Sarah’s murder, the case eventually went cold before DNA technology helped detectives solve it, reported PEOPLE. Police investigators had gone through countless tips and had considered other suspects before DNA from semen left at the scene led police to the murderer.

In 2019, genealogists working on the case used genetic genealogy to zero in on two brothers as suspects. One of the brothers was ruled out because his DNA was already in CODIS and it wasn't a match to the semen at the scene. The second brother, Patrick Nicholas, had served time in prison for an attempted rape from 1983, but his DNA had never been entered into CODIS.

After surveilling Nicholas, investigators collected a cigarette that he'd tossed on the ground and were able to match DNA from the cigarette to the DNA found on Yarborough's clothes, ABC News reported.

After evading justice for over three decades, Patrick Nicholas was arrested and later found guilty in the murder of the teenager. On May 10, 2023, a jury in King County, Washington, where the murder took place, found Nicholas guilty of first and second-degree murder with sexual motivation.

Nicholas, now 59, was 27 at the time of the murder, according to the Federal Way Mirror. He had kept a copy of a 1994 newspaper that featured an article about Sarah, and he had a photo of the teen in his kitchen drawer which was found when he was arrested.

Sarah Yarborough’s family and friends still mourn the loss of the teen, but they are grateful that justice was finally served. Mary Beth Thome, a childhood friend of Sarah, said, “Nothing will bring Sarah back, but this is as much justice as we can all expect after so many years, and we’re really grateful the verdict was what it was.”

Thome told KOMO News, "She loved art, she loved to dance, what would she have become in those years that were taken from her? I think she would've been a beautiful person, and I think it's really sad that the world didn't get to see who she would've become."

Nicholas’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 25.

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