, 2022-07-11 17:49:04,
It’s been nearly 20 years since a 17-year-old girl in McCleary, Washington was kidnapped and raped after being bound and placed in her own vehicle when she arrived home, then taken to another location and sexually assaulted. On Friday, Paul Bieker of Enumclaw was sentenced to 30 years behind bars for the sexual assault.
The Enumclaw man was arrested in 2021 after the Gray’s Harbor County Sheriff’s Office asked the State Attorney General’s Office for help with the case. Specifically, the department requested grant money to cover the cost of forensic genetic genealogy.
It was a similar story in Whitman County where Kenneth Downing of Elk took a plea deal on Friday, agreeing to plead guilty to four counts of rape in the first degree and one count of assault with sexual motivation for a series of home break-in rapes in Pullman in the early 2000s. Downing faces 17 years to life when he is sentenced next month.
“Both cases were nearly 20 years old and were solved with assistance from a grant program through my office funding forensic genealogical testing as part of our sexual assault kit initiative,” said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson at a press conference Monday announcing the convictions.
Earlier this year, the program had helped solve a 1995 murder of a 61-year-old woman in Kitsap County.
“This sends a message to survivors that we will not give up on cold cases,” Ferguson said. “My office will continue this initiative to help law enforcement close these cases.”
Ferguson’s forensic genetic genealogy program has assisted with 23 cold case investigations to date. Three cases have been solved with the assistance of this program, and the leads generated by the program may result in future arrests and convictions in the other 20 cases.
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