Garage Repairman Linked to 1990s Cold Case Rapes Through Genealogy DNA - NBC Bay Area

Garage Repairman Linked to 1990s Cold Case Rapes Through Genealogy DNA

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Man Arrested in Cold Case Rapes

    After more than two decades, investigators relied on DNA and genealogy to narrow it down to two people at first. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Published Friday, Jan. 11, 2019)

    A 53-year-old garage repairman was behind bars Friday on suspicion of the rape of a 9-year-old girl and a woman in south Orange County in the 1990s, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said.

    The break in the case against Kevin Konther of Highland, California, came when investigators used DNA evidence and matched it to twin brothers via a genealogy website.

    Konther, who was being held on $1 million bail, was arrested Thursday at his home and booked on suspicion of two counts of rape, oral copulation with a person younger than 14, lewd and lascivious acts with a child younger than 14 and aggravated sexual assault.

    His twin brother, who is not a suspect, has been released, Barnes said.

    "We're confident we have the correct suspect in this case," Barnes told reporters at a news conference Friday.

    Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said his office was expected to file charges on Monday.

    Konther is accused of grabbing a 9-year-old girl walking home from a convenience store in Lake Forest at 6:40 p.m., Oct. 21, 1995.

    The girl's attacker dragged her into a wooded area in Serrano Creek Park, where she was raped and then let go. The girl ran home, told her parents and a search ensued that bore no results.

    Konther is also accused of kidnapping and raping a 31-year-old woman jogging at 11:30 a.m. June 2, 1998, on a Mission Viejo trail near El Toro Road and Marguerite Parkway. The woman was dragged into bushes, where she was raped.

    Investigators matched the DNA collected from the woman's rape and linked it to the suspect in the 9-year-old girl's attack.

    Over the past 23 years, investigators have checked the DNA against its law enforcement databases with no luck. In August, using the same technique that led to the arrest of the Golden State Killer, investigators submitted the DNA to an ancestry website and got a match to the identical twins.

    The victims were strangers to Konther, Barnes said.

    "These crimes were very impactful to Lake Forest," Barnes said of the attack on the girl. "It traumatized the community for years."

    Barnes also noted how the girl sat down with investigators and provided a description that led to a composite sketch. He said she was "incredibly brave" to do so.

    Investigators were working to determine if Konther could be linked to any other sexual assaults.