DNA leads to arrest of Washington man two decades after rapes of women


An eastern Washington man has been arrested in the rapes of women in Pullman two decades ago after authorities say DNA linked him to the crimes.

Kenneth Downing, 47, was arrested Thursday at a construction site where he was working in Spokane after Pullman police say his DNA matched evidence collected at multiple crime scenes.

Downing is accused of breaking into two homes and raping women in the early 2000′s, KREM-TV reported. He has been charged with four counts of rape, three counts of assault and three counts of unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, among other charges.

Pullman police arrest suspect involved in 18-year sexual assault cold case by
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Downing told the judge in Whitman County Superior Court Friday he’s married, has children and has lived in Elk, Washington, for the past decade.

Downing’s bail was set at $5 million with prosecutors arguing he’s still a threat to the public. It wasn’t immediately known if he has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

Prosecutors say in 2003, Downing broke into a home in Pullman and threatened a woman at gunpoint. She was allegedly sexually assaulted three times.

Then in 2004, police say he broke into an apartment, where two women were inside. According to court documents Downing, who had a gun,  tied up one roommate and raped the other.

“So very serious, very dangerous, very violent crimes,” the prosecutor said in court Friday, KREM-TV reported.

For 18 years, police kept DNA evidence they collected, but they didn’t know whose it was until they entered in into a genealogy database. According to court documents, he was linked to the case after one of Downing’s relatives sent in a sample to learn more about their family tree.

Three women whose homes he allegedly broke into have been notified of Downing’s arrest, according to Pullman Police Sgt. Aaron Breshears.

“I think that it’s important that after 18 years, our victims here in Pullman now can have some closure and don’t have to worry about this guy running around out there still,” Breshears told the Spokesman Review.

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