Twenty-seven years ago in Tacoma, two young lovers were viciously murdered after hanging out with friends. Some say playing an occult game is behind their death, while others strongly believe this is a crime of passion by a jilted stalker. These two tragic murders have yet to be solved!

**UPDATE: People are asking me who talked to me about this case. No one reached out to me, actually, I recently learned about the story of Rochelle and Michael whilst searching for a list of unsolved mysteries in Washington state. After a quick Google search, I noticed this article at Only In Your State. Later that day, I found out that this grisly tale appeared on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, hosted by Robert Stack back in the 90s, too. (see the video below.)


After a round or two of playing Magic: The Gathering, Rochelle Robinson from Spanaway, and Michael Johnston from Tacoma, left their friends' home separately around 11 o'clock. They drove their cars to have a secret meet up in a school parking lot. That is the last time they were able to be together because they were both murdered.

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The story of the double homicide of Rochelle and Michael alleges that they were messing around with an "occult game" called, Magic: The Gathering. It has not been proven that playing this game was directly to blame for their deaths, but there are folks who suspect Magic: The Gathering is a gateway to dark magic, similar to playing the Ouija Board. The game was fingered as a link to the crime when a local psychic began claiming that the murders were the result of magic spells and the occult.


The gateway link to the occult and the dark arts is highly suspect, as many players of the game have declared it akin to playing Dungeons and Dragons, not an actual game of the occult. There is no plausible link but it makes for great fodder for a scary book or movie. This story in fact seems like something straight out of a Lois Duncan or V.C. Andrews book, or maybe even a Stephen King novel!

I have so many questions! Putting on my Columbo detective hat to see if I can find any clues. Columbo once said that he could figure out who did the murder once he determined the "motive, opportunity, and means". Let's see if we can piece together something to help decode this unsolved mystery.


25-year-old Michael was a married man, and he was secretly messin' around with a young lady six years younger than he. That's motive enough for a furious spouse to commit the murders, but only if the spouse had a penchant for violence. Pierce County Detectives never accused his wife, Janet, with any suspicions for this crime. Forensic scientists also determined that Michael's murder, in particular, only happened because of his proximity to Rochelle. Rochelle had previously confided in one of her friends that she had a stalker who was following her, showing up to her job to stare at her, and wouldn't leave her alone in general. Someone sent the police a tip about this stalker back in 1995. If you ask me, the stalker is the prime suspect. He had motive, means, and opportunity. Rochelle's body had been stabbed repeatedly during the murder, which strongly indicates a crime of passion. I remember, for instance, when my former museum associate, David Childs, was murdered in downtown Yakima on Front St back in 2013, he had been stabbed multiple times. I immediately thought this indicated a jilted lover or friend had committed the crime. Sure enough, it ended up being one of David's jilted lovers who committed the crime. Inquiring minds are pointing the finger of blame for Rochelle and Michael's death as being someone who was either deeply infatuated/in love with Rochelle, or a sworn enemy of hers. There's your motive!

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The murderer's opportunity to kill came when Michael and Rochelle arrived at the school parking lot. The murderer was able to bring along supplies needed to carry out the attack. The murderer reportedly handcuffed Michael, slit his throat, and shot him once in the head at close range. Rochelle was was found five miles down the road and her throat was slit also. Her dead body was covered up with a cardboard box and left for dead. If we go with the tip that it was Rochelle's acne-in-the-face stalker who committed the murders, he presumably would have began following her earlier that day, when she was driving to attend the hangout sesh with friends to play Magic: The Gathering. Next, the culprit could followed Rochelle and her lover, Michael, to the school parking lot, where detectives believe Michael and Rochelle were forced into her car. They believe it was the murderer then drove the couple to a secluded location in rural Pierce County.


Whomever committed the murders brought along a knife to slash some throats, a loaded gun, and a pair of handcuffs to imprison one or more of the victims. This makes me suspect this is a premeditated murder, some jealous heifer who had the intent to kill! It would have to be someone whose absence at home or work would likely not be noticed for several hours.


  • When someone is shot at close range to the head does that indicate familiarity with the victim, a robbery, or just plain murder?
  • Was there ever any suspicion on the other two people with whom Rochelle and Robert were playing Magic: The Gathering?
  • Since both of the victims throats were slashed, so what are the gender identity statistics of previous throat slashings, and could that lead to clues about who did the murders?
  • The killer was strong enough to overpower Michael long enough to handcuff him, so that could indicate either the presence of multiple people at the crime scene or a sturdy person with great strength to overpower another?

What do YOU think happened to Rochelle Robinson and Michael Johnston? It is so hard to believe that there is still no motive, suspects, or murder weapon. Here is a link to the original Seattle Times story from 1994 written by Wayne Wurzer, Helen E. Jung, and Anne Koch. I didn't tell you all of the information Pierce County police detectives have so far determined, but you can research further details about this double murder here. Watch the Unsolved Mysteries episode below about Rochelle and Michaels murders, and then keep reading to see 25 other shocking true crime story locations in the United States, some of which may still be unsolved, too!

Take a Pic of Yourself in Yakima at One of these 74 Mural Selfie Walls

Big cities have famous spots where we like to take sightseeing selfies, like the Gum Wall in Seattle's Pike Place Market, or the What Lifts You Wings mural in Nashville, and even artist Candice Taylor's brand new Crown Act Wall in Southeast Washington, D.C. You've no doubt taken quite a few selfies in front of popular landmarks and selfie wallls.

Did you know that the city of Yakima, Washington, has over seventy-four (74) murals that would make for a fantastic place to get your sightseeing selfie? The locations included in this gallery include one-of-a-kind murals found at:

  • Hamilton Park Mural Wall on Mead Ave (the cross street is S 24th Ave)
  • Churchill's Booklovers Haunt: 125 S 2nd St
  • Various Homes across from the MLK Jr. Park Splash Pad: S 8th St
  • United States Post Office: 112 S 3rd St
  • Cost Less Carpet of Yakima (on the back side of the store): 210 N 5th Ave
  • Dollar Stretcher (in the alley behind the store): 501 W Lincoln Ave
Keep your eyes out for one of our unique photo-op murals to add to your collection in your social media pics, and stop and take a memorable selfie of yourself in the heart of Yakima!

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