Tags: 'Rare' | DNA | Links | Suspect | SoCal | Rapes

'Rare' DNA Links Suspect to SoCal Rapes

Tuesday, 12 November 2002 12:00 AM

Long Beach police said that based on the evidence, they were confident that Mark Wayne Rathbun was the man responsible for at least a dozen of 31 rapes committed in the Seattle and Long Beach areas since 1996.

"According to the sheriff's crime lab, this suspect has a very rare DNA profile," said Long Beach Police Cmdr. Linda Beardslee, the head of a multi-agency task force that had investigated the series of attacks that centered on the city's popular Belmont Shores neighborhood.

Rathbun was arrested Sunday night in Oxnard, a seaside town some 50 miles up the coast from Long Beach, and will formally be charged Tuesday or Wednesday, Police Chief Anthony Batts told reporters.

"We believe him to be the 'Belmont Shores Rapist,'" declared Batts. "Our message to Long Beach is 'Sleep well tonight.'"

Prior to the arrest, police had concluded that the suspect likely had followed many of his victims around for some time before he struck, in order to plan out his entry and escape routes.

Fingerprints and DNA evidence tied 13 of the attacks in the series to a single suspect, while the remainder were linked to the series by the similarities in the suspect's modus operandi of slipping into homes usually in the middle of the night. His targets were homes occupied by single women, ranging in age from 30 to 77, who lived alone. He kept his face covered so that no description could be given to police.

The attacks began in Seattle in 1996 and began occurring in Long Beach the following year.

A typical DNA evidence case involves the comparison of two forensic biological samples. One of the "unknown" samples, such as semen from a rape and then the "reference" sample from the suspect, usually obtained from scraping cells from inside the mouth, are tested. If the DNA profile obtained from the two samples match, the result is considered to be evidence strong enough to support charging the suspect with the alleged crimes.

If the combination of traits in the DNA profile is considered "rare," as Beardslee told reporters was the case with their suspect, the Long Beach Police presumably could have some strong evidence against Rathbun.

Police had jailed Rathbun briefly for possession of drug paraphernalia after he was found on a bicycle inside a perimeter thrown up in east Long Beach on Nov. 2 immediately after a pre-dawn attack on a woman that fit the rapist's alleged pattern.

Rathbun was one of three individuals detained during the dragnet, however they had no evidence he was involved in the rape attempt and had to allow him to post bail and leave jail while detectives scrambled to determine if he had any link to the crime.

"He was only arrested at that point on the drug paraphernalia charge," Beardslee said. "We did, thereafter, establish the fact that he was somebody we had extreme interest in and we put a surveillance team on him."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Long Beach police said that based on the evidence, they were confident that Mark Wayne Rathbun was the man responsible for at least a dozen of 31 rapes committed in the Seattle and Long Beach areas since 1996. According to the sheriff's crime lab, this suspect has a...
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2002-00-12
Tuesday, 12 November 2002 12:00 AM
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