Man arrested in cold case rapes of women after DNA link

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — 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, 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.

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.

He was arrested Thursday at a construction site in Spokane after Pullman police say his DNA matched evidence collected at multiple crime scenes.

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.