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Washington State News

Multiple Cold Cases Solved with Assist From Attorney General’s DNA Forensic Genetic Genealogy Program

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today that his office’s DNA forensic genetic genealogy program has now helped solve three cold cases, including one with multiple victims:

  • A 2003 violent rape of a 17-year-old in McCleary, WA;
  • 2003 and 2004 violent home invasion sexual assaults in Pullman, WA; and
  • A 1995 murder in Kitsap County.

Before Ferguson’s office got involved, these cases did not have active leads. The DNA profiles had been uploaded to CODIS, the national criminal DNA database, with no results.

On July 8, a Grays Harbor County Superior Court judge sentenced Paul J. Bieker to 30 years in prison for the 2003 abduction and rape of a teenage girl. After a three-day trial, a jury convicted the 51-year-old of felony rape in the first degree with deliberate cruelty. The case was the first conviction and sentencing resulting from funds the Attorney General’s Office provided for forensic genetic genealogy research to help solve a sexually motivated cold case.

On the same day, Kenneth Downing pleaded guilty in Whitman County to four counts of rape in the first degree and one count of assault in the second degree with sexual motivation. Downing committed two Pullman home invasions in 2003 and 2004, both resulting in violent rapes. Forensic genetic genealogy connected Downing’s DNA to the DNA evidence collected from both sexual assault cases.

In March, law enforcement in Kitsap County tied a 1995 murder to now-deceased Douglas K. Krohne with assistance from the Attorney General’s forensic genetic genealogy program.

“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. The program is part of the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

The Attorney General’s Office dedicated $292,275 to assist local law enforcement agencies with felony cold case investigations through forensic genetic genealogy testing. These resources are reserved for unsolved cold cases of felony crimes with sexual motivation. Moreover, to be eligible, the cases must have no active leads and no CODIS matches.

To date, the Attorney General’s Office provided approximately $120,000 to local law enforcement agencies for testing. Ferguson’s Office has approximately $170,000 remaining to assist agencies with additional cold cases.