Suspect in 18-year cold case in Pullman facing life in prison
PULLMAN, Wash. — Warning: The following story involves disturbing details from court documents. Reader discretion is advised.
Court documents show chilling new details in a cold case that Pullman detectives say they have finally solved.
47-year-old Kenneth Downing is accused of breaking into homes and raping women in the early 2000's.
Downing's bail was set at an astounding $5 million and a Whitman County Judge agreed to keep it there. Prosecutors argue he's still a threat to the public. The court documents are disturbing.
Prosecutors say Kenneth Downing has been at large for the last 18 years. Now, he's locked up in a Whitman County jail cell. He was arrested Thursday at a construction site in North Spokane after Pullman police say his DNA matched evidence collected at multiple crime scenes.
"This is an extremely serious crime, your honor, where first instance a woman woke up in her bedroom to a man in the house with a gun," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors say Downing broke into a home om Water Street near downtown Pullman in 2003. A woman was home alone, sleeping in the basement and heard the floor creaking upstairs. Then, her bedroom door was opened. A man pointed a gun at her, asking if anyone else was home. The victim was sexually assaulted three times. At one point, she said the attacker made small talk and asked about her pets. She described him as wearing Carhartt style overalls and a ski mask. She told police he took the batteries out of her landline phone.
"Told her when he was leaving that if she reported it to anybody he would be back in two months and that he knew people," the prosecutor said.
Prosecutors say 18 years later, that victim still lives in fear, and she is not the only one Downing is accused of raping.
Months later in 2004, police say he broke into an apartment, which is now a hotel. Two women were inside. One of them grabbed a knife but dropped it when she realized Downing was holding a gun. According to court documents. Downing tied up one roommate and raped the other.
"So very serious, very dangerous, very violent crimes," the prosecutor said.
For 18 years, police held on to DNA evidence they collected at the crime scenes, but they didn't know whose it was until they entered in into a genealogy database. According to court documents, one of Downing's relatives sent in a sample to find out more about their family tree. It was the break police needed.
Downing told the judge he's a married man, with several children. He's lived in Elk, Washington for the last ten years. Judge Gary Libey kept his bond at $5 million.
Downing is facing 13 felony charges. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.