Construction workers charged with rape after DNA link found

A married Washington state construction worker was arrested for raping two women nearly two decades ago, police said.

Kenneth David Downing, 47, was taken into custody at a Spokane construction site on Thursday after investigators linked him to two burglaries and sexual assaults in Pullman in November 2003 and March 2004.

“This cold case arrest was made possible by DNA matches using evidence collected at the time of the crime,” Pullman Police said in a statement.

Downing, of Elk, has been linked to the attacks by investigators using forensic genetic genealogy. His bail was set at $5 million after prosecutors argued he was still a threat to the public, KREM reported.

Downing, who appeared in court on Friday, faces four counts of rape, three counts of assault and other charges for allegedly assaulting the two victims months apart.

Prosecutors said a woman told investigators the suspect sexually assaulted her three times during the attack and once even made small talk and asked her about her pets, KREM reported.

The woman still lives in fear 18 years later, prosecutors said.

Kenneth Downing
Kenneth Downing faces $5million bail after prosecutors argued he was still a threat to society.
KREM 2 news on YouTube

Months after the initial attack, authorities said, Downing broke into another woman’s home and raped her with a knife after tying up and assaulting her roommate.

Cops took evidence from both crime scenes and later entered DNA into a genealogy database, which eventually led them to Downing after one of his relatives sent in a sample to inquire about its parentage, KREM reported.

Downing, who faces life in prison if convicted, told a judge Friday he is a married man with several children who has lived in the area for ten years.

Kenneth Downs
Kenneth Downs was identified by investigators using forensic genetic genealogy. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.
KREM 2 news on YouTube

Pullman police declined to name the location where Downing was arrested or what company he was working for at the time, the Spokesman-Review reported.

“I think it’s important that our victims here at Pullman can graduate now after 18 years and not have to worry about this guy still running around out there,” Pullman Police Sgt. Aaron Breshears told the newspaper.

Pullman police teamed up with a private company to look at the cold case in 2020 and later identified a “pedigree” that significantly narrowed the search, Breshears said.

“Instead of a needle in a haystack, we now had a family to look at as far as there are suspects based on this forensic genetic genealogy,” Breshears told the newspaper.

Downing, who has pleaded not guilty, has been assigned court-appointed counsel and is scheduled to appear again in court on March 25, KHQ-TV reported. Construction workers charged with rape after DNA link found


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