Suspect arrested in 1998 rape of Everett teacher; DNA testing improvements helped crack case

EVERETT — She was a young teacher preparing for summer classes at Discovery Elementary School in south Everett when he broke into her classroom, pointed a gun at her and ordered her on the floor.

He took $14 from her purse and demanded her jewelry. She handed over her wedding ring. He gave the ring back and then raped her. The suspect threatened to shoot her, ripped the phone from the wall and fled the portable classroom.

That was 1998.

Sheriff’s detectives on Wednesday arrested the man they believe is responsible for the attack. Investigators say advances in forensic testing in the last decade led them to the Everett man, now 30.

The suspect was 17 at the time and lived less than a mile from the school. He was a high school dropout and had been in trouble with the law before that summer, including juvenile convictions for property crimes.

The victim told detectives at the time that the attacker wore gloves, a black stocking cap and something covering his mouth. She estimated that he was in his late teens or early 20s.

A police dog searched the area. Investigators concluded that the suspect likely fled on bicycle.

Detectives speculated that the attacker knew that the woman was working alone in the classroom, entered through an open window and waited for her to return from lunch.

“I think he planned this. He was dressed all in black. He wore a scarf or something over his face and was carrying a handgun,” sheriff’s cold case detective Jim Scharf said.

The detective helped process the crime scene that day.

Forensic evidence collected during the investigation was tested at the time but didn’t lead to any suspects.

In June, Scharf contacted a forensic scientist at the Washington State Patrol crime lab in Marysville and asked if there was enough genetic evidence that could be retested using today’s more advanced technology.

He and the other cold case detectives have been re-examining evidence in old unsolved homicides to determine if new forensic testing should be done. This case came to mind, Scharf said.

“This is a pretty horrific case,” he said. “You don’t forget about the really bad ones.”

Scientists conducted the tests, and discovered a match with the evidence collected and a sample in the state’s DNA database.

Since the rape, the suspect was twice convicted of burglary and a suspect in a string of 60 break-ins in Snohomish County in 2000. He was required to submit DNA samples after those convictions. The information was entered into the state’s database.

Detectives arrested the man Wednesday and booked him for investigation of first-degree rape and burglary. He was on parole for a federal conviction stemming from a string of pharmacy burglaries along the West Coast, sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said.

Investigators on Wednesday collected a fresh DNA sample from the suspect. That will be tested against the evidence collected in 1998.

The sheriff’s office received a nearly $400,000 federal grant in 2009 to bolster its cold case investigations. The sheriff’s office added two more detectives to the squad. Investigators have been identifying items to be tested for potential DNA and submitting that evidence to the state crime lab.

“I credit the tenacity and dedication of detective Scharf and his cold case colleagues for bringing about justice in this case – both for the victim and all citizens of Snohomish County,” Sheriff John Lovick said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

The intersection of Larch Way, Logan Road and Locust Way on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Alderwood Manor, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Roundabout project to shut down major Bothell intersection for months

The $4.5 million project will rebuild the four-way stop at Larch and Locust ways. The detour will stretch for miles.

State Sen. Mark Mullet, left, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, are both running as Democrats for governor in 2024. (Photos courtesy of Mullet and Ferguson campaigns)
Rival Democrats spar over fundraising in Washington governor’s race

Mark Mullet is questioning Bob Ferguson’s campaign finance connections with the state party. Ferguson says the claims are baseless.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

A log truck rolled over into power lines on Monday, June 17, in Darrington. (Photo provided by Alexis Monical)
Log truck rolls into utility lines in Darrington, knocking out power

The truck rolled over Monday morning at the intersection of Highway 530 and Fullerton Avenue. About 750 addresses were without power.

A house fire seriously injured two people Friday evening, June 14, in Edmonds, Washington. (Courtesy of South County Fire.)
1 killed, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Edmonds house fire

South County Fire crews pulled the man and woman from the burning home around 6 p.m. Friday, near 224th Street SW and 72nd Place W.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hidden costs, delays crush hopeful food truck owners in Snohomish County

Melinda Grenier followed her dream to open Hay Girl Coffee. Thousands in fees later, it has cost her more than she bargained for.

x
Edmonds funds embedded social worker, for now, after contract ends

Compass Health canceled the program in south Snohomish County. The city is funding the police-embedded position for a few more months.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.