Bay City News

Santa Rosa Suspect Arrested in Rape, Kidnapping at Park

Santa Rosa police have arrested a man suspected of sexually assaulting a woman at Howarth Park two weeks ago.

The 55-year-old victim was leaving the bathroom in the gazebo area at the lower level of Howarth Park around 8:35 a.m. on Aug. 16 when the suspect appeared, pushed her back and allegedly assaulted her in the bathroom, according to police. The victim was treated at a hospital and released.

Police said Rusiate Waqa, 23, of Santa Rosa, came to the attention of officers the same day of the assault when a citizen said Waqa was loitering in the park around the time of the assault. The citizen provided police with a license plate number and vehicle description, and a record's check linked Waqa to the vehicle, police said.

Waqa was interviewed but was not positively identified as the suspect. He voluntarily provided a DNA sample taken from inside his cheek but was not arrested, according to police. Officers continued to investigate.

Detectives learned Thursday that Waqa's DNA matched evidence collected from the assault, police said.

Waqa was located Thursday as he walked toward his home and was booked in the county jail on suspicion of rape and kidnapping with the intent to commit rape. He is being held on no bail and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

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