EVERETT — An Everett man’s genetic signature has betrayed him as the rapist who in 1998 attacked an Everett teacher in her classroom, then apparently rode away on a bicycle, Snohomish County prosecutors said Friday.
Michael William McConnell was 17 when somebody sexually assaulted a teacher at gunpoint in a portable classroom on the campus at Discovery Elementary School. Now 30, he’s denied any involvement.
Genetic material left behind by the rapist tells a different story, deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter said in documents filed Friday in Snohomish County Superior Court. He charged McConnell with first-degree rape.
The teacher said she was alone in the classroom when a man, his face partially covered by black cloth and a black hat, climbed through a window. He robbed and raped her at gunpoint and left after tearing the phone from the wall and threatening her life.
She was able to summon help anyway. Officers were on the scene quickly enough that a police dog followed the attacker’s footprints. The trail proved a dead end. Bicycle tire tracks suggested the rapist had pedaled away from the scene, Hunter wrote.
Evidence collected at the attack scene also didn’t help detectives identify a suspect. Then in June, cold case detectives at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office asked that genetic material be retested using current technology.
Scientists ran the tests and concluded male genetic evidence collected at the rape scene nearly 13 years before matched McConnell’s profile in the state’s DNA database. His genetic profile had been entered after a burglary conviction in 2000, said Hunter, who prosecuted that case.
“The defendant was contacted through his current federal probation officer and interviewed,” the prosecutor said. “He admitted living within one mile of Discovery Elementary School at the time this rape occurred. And he admitted using a bicycle as a method of transportation at that time. He denied robbing and raping” the teacher.
Generally, prosecutors have 10 years from when a rape was committed to file a charge. However, there is some leeway in cases such as these in which the suspect hasn’t been identified.
Prosecutors contend the law allows them to file rape charges a year from when the suspect is conclusively identified through DNA testing, as happened in this case.
McConnell has been on probation for a 2007 federal conviction stemming from a string of pharmacy burglaries. He is being held on the rape allegation on $250,000 bail. He faces more than 15 years in prison if convicted.
Scott North: 425-339-3431; email@example.com