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

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An eastern Washington man was arrested for raping women in Pullman two decades ago after authorities said DNA linked him to the crimes.

Kenneth Downing, 47, was arrested Thursday at a construction site where he worked in Spokane after According to Pullman Police his DNA matched evidence collected from multiple crime scenes.

Downing is accused of breaking into two houses and raping women in the early 2000s, KREM-TV reported. He was charged with four counts of rape, three counts of assault and three counts of sexually motivated unlawful imprisonment, among other counts.


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Downing told the Whitman County Superior Court judge on Friday that he was married, had children and had lived in Elk, Wash., for a decade.

Downing’s bond has been set at $5 million, with prosecutors arguing he remains a threat to the public. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

According to prosecutors, in 2003 Downing broke into a house 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 housemate and raped the other.

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

For 18 years, police kept the DNA evidence they collected, but they didn’t know who it was until it was entered 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 find out more about their family tree.

Three women whom he allegedly broke into were notified of Downing’s arrest, according to Pullman Police Sgt. Aaron Breshear.

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

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