Friday, April 2, 2010

Charges filed in violent 2006 rape

Our Cold Case Sex Crimes Squad has arrested a man whose composite sketch was on a billboard three and a half years ago. The suspect's mug shot and the sketch from 2006 are above.

From the Platte County Prosecutor's Office:

A Kansas City man has been charged with a 2006 rape, after being indentified by a cold case DNA match. The case against Zachary L. Townsend, 39, is the first charge filed outside Jackson County as part of the Kansas City Police Department’s cold case program.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said, “This crime, where a woman awakens to a stranger in her apartment who rapes her, is one of the most frightening offenses imaginable. While rare, such crimes are often very difficult to solve. Fortunately, the tenacity of Kansas City police officers combined with DNA technology led to these charges today.”

According to court documents, on December 21, 2006, a woman awoke sometime after 11:00 p.m. to a stranger standing in the doorway of her apartment bedroom in the Crossings apartment complex, located at 7867 NW Roanridge Road in Kansas City.

The stranger then allegedly took the woman to her car, where he raped and sodomized her. He later allegedly forced her to return to her apartment, where he repeatedly raped and sodomized her over a period of several hours.

At one point during the encounter, the woman screamed. The stranger allegedly grabbed the woman by the neck, choked her, and threatened to kill her.

The stranger fled the next morning. The woman immediately went to a hospital, where medical personnel completed a sexual assault examination. The woman had numerous bruises to her body.

The case generated substantial attention at the time, including the posting of a composite sketch of the suspect on a billboard along I-29. That billboard, funded by Crime Stoppers and Lamar Advertising, was the first billboard of an unknown suspect posted in the Kansas City area.

Court documents indicate that DNA recovered during the sexual assault examination allegedly matches Townsend.

Captain Mark Folsom of the Special Victims Unit of the Kansas City Police Department credited the hard work of detectives and the continuing success of the cold case unit for the charges filed against Townsend.

“Detectives worked more than 100 tips during this case, and the lead detective, Catherine Johnson, never gave up on finding a suspect,” Folsom said. “This case is the 47th case filed as part of our cold case program, and the first such case outside Jackson County.”

To date, Kansas City’s Sex Crimes Cold Case Squad has reviewed more than 1400 cases. In addition to the 47 cases filed, 71 additional cases have been cleared, and multiple other cases are currently being investigated. The squad is funded by a $500,000 grant, which has been renewed once.

Townsend is charged with forcible rape and forcible sodomy. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Townsend is currently being held on an unrelated charge from Clay County. Bond in this case has been set at $500,000 cash.

The charges against Townsend are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.