By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — She was 14 when a stranger followed her from a bus stop and raped her in an alleyway just yards from the safety of her home.
Any remaining moments of her childhood were stolen from the young woman, there on the gravel-covered ground. The rape lasted 20 minutes, but its effects continue to ripple through her life, a dozen years later, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf said.
“She has suffered from sleep and eating disorders, and has struggled to form successful relationships with adult men. The trauma was inflamed yet again by the news that the defendant had been charged in her previously unsolved case, yet she was willing to confront the defendant in court if necessary,” Alsdorf wrote in court papers.
On Tuesday, the rapist was ordered to spend the next 31 years locked behind bars for the 1999 attack on the teenager.
Daniel Nathan Peltier, 31, escaped justice for more than a decade until science and the law caught up with him last year. Peltier was identified as the attacker after his DNA matched genetic evidence that Everett police and nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett collected about an hour after the rape.
Two Everett police officers who investigated the rape attended Tuesday’s hearing.
“This case is a testament not only to the power and longevity of DNA evidence, but also to the swift action of the first responders and the forensic scientists who were able to bring the defendant to justice for his crime,” Alsdorf wrote.
Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent called the rape a horrific crime.
He said he was struck by the victim’s courage, despite the defendant’s attempts to intimidate her.
Not only did she cooperate with investigators at the time, but she agreed to face the defendant if the case had gone to trial, Okrent said.
The victim, a high school freshman at the time, was walking home from a bus stop when she noticed that a man was following her. She attempted to take a shortcut, but the man chased her, grabbed her coat and placed a steak knife to her throat. He looked her in the eyes and tried to kiss the girl as he raped her, Alsdorf wrote.
She begged for him to stop. Peltier stabbed a knife into the ground by the girl’s head as he pinned her to the ground.
He also stole $1 from the girl’s wallet.
The attack ended when the man was scared away by an approaching vehicle.
“The defendant’s crimes in this case are some of the worst anyone can imagine; their description conjures images from horror movies or nightmares rather than something that would happen on the streets of our community,” Alsdorf wrote.
In 2007, without knowing the rapist’s identity, prosecutors filed charges against “Individual A” to preserve the case within the statute of limitations. A few years later, Peltier’s DNA profile turned up in a national database after he was convicted of a sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in North Dakota.
Last year, prosecutors identified Peltier as the sole suspect in the 1999 attack in southeast Everett.
Peltier was moved from his prison cell in North Dakota to the Snohomish County Jail. In July, he pleaded guilty to rape, robbery and assault.
Okrent on Tuesday agreed to allow Peltier to serve his Snohomish County sentence concurrently with his time in North Dakota.
Authorities there said that Peltier isn’t scheduled to be let out until 2034, but court papers indicate that he could be eligible for release in 2014. Whenever he is released from prison there, he will be moved to Washington to serve out the remainder of his sentence for the Everett rape.
Alsdorf said he is hopeful that Peltier’s incarceration will give the victim some small reassurance as she “continues to do what she’s had to do on her own for the past 13 years: coping, surviving, and trying to move on.”
The woman now lives in Florida and is concentrating on creating a positive and safe childhood for her firstborn child, the prosecutor said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.