Keven Michael Konther, 53, was arrested on Thursday in California on rape charges
The DNA investigative technique used to catch the alleged Golden State Killer has led Southern California police to an arrest in a pair of cold case rapes from the 1990s, including one of a nine-year-old girl.
Keven Michael Konther, 53, was booked into Orange County Jail on Thursday on two counts of felony rape, oral copulation with a child under 14, lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and aggravated sexual assault.
‘This is the definition of a sexual predator. This is the definition of a person who preyed on innocent women,’ Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said at a press conference on Friday.
The shocking case dates back to the evening of October 21, 1995, when a nine-year-old girl was walking home at 6.40pm after purchasing some school supplies at a store near her Lake Forrest home.
On October 21, 1995 a rapist dragged a nine-year-old girl from this sidewalk into the woods of Serrano Creek Park, seen above in a file photo
Suddenly, a man grabbed the girl from behind on the sidewalk and dragged her into the woods of nearby Serrano Creek Park.
The sick predator forced the young girl to undress and raped her, then fled.
The traumatized little girl ran home and told her parents. Police launched a massive manhunt for the rapist but were unable to locate the suspect.
Despite her horrifying ideal, the girl gave police sketch artists a detailed description of the pervert and the suspect sketch was widely circulated.
‘That nine-year-old, brave little girl – after being brutally molested and raped – was able to provide that description to our investigators. She is incredibly strong,’ Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at a press conference.
There were no leads in the case until the rapist struck again three years later, on June 2, 1998, when a 31-year-old woman was jogging on a trail near El Torro Road and Mission Parkway in Mission Viejo.
Police generated this suspect sketch from the description given by the nine-year-old victim. Sheriff Barnes says it is an uncanny resemblance to Konther at that age
In the middle of the day – 11.30am – a man leaped out from the brush and grabbed the female jogger from behind, dragging her deep into the woods, where he raped her.
Again, the suspect fled the scene immediately after the attack. The terrified woman was able to flag down passersby, and police rushed to the scene. Again, the dragnet for the rapist came up empty.
DNA established that the two women were attacked by the same rapist – but police were unable to find a match in law enforcement databases. The case went cold.
For two decades, investigators continued searching for leads with no luck.
Then in April 2018, investigators in Northern California announced the arrest of 73-year-old James DeAngelo in the decades-old Golden State Killer case.
Police revealed that they had used a public DNA database that people use to find unknown family relations to identify DeAngelo, matching with a distant relative in the database and then working through his family tree.
In Orange County, Detective Jason Perez saw the news and decided to try the same technique in the cold case rapes.
The DNA investigative technique that led cops to Joseph DeAngelo (above) in the Golden State Killer case was an inspiration for the detectives who tracked down Konther
Using the public databases, he was shocked when the trail led to not one suspect, but two – identical twins who have the same DNA.
After consulting with prosecutors, deputies swooped in on both Konther and his twin brother on Thursday, arresting both men in their homes in Highland.
After bringing both men in for questioning, police booked Konther, a garage repairman, on the rape charges, and set his twin brother free.
Police are being cautious at this point about revealing how they determined Konther was their suspect, saying only that they used ‘investigative techniques’ that will be revealed at trial.
‘We are confident that we have the individual in custody,’ Sheriff Barnes said.
Sheriff Barnes would not reveal why police suspect Konther instead of his identical twin brother, who has the same DNA, but promised all the evidence would be revealed at trial
The sheriff said that when the two victims were notified of Konther’s arrest, the younger victim, now in her 30s, reacted with shock, as the news dredged up her horrifying childhood trauma. The older victim, he said, was ‘elated’ at the arrest.
‘While much of the focus will be on the methods used to identify the suspect, we must not lose sight of the victims,’ the sheriff said.
‘They have lived for 23 and 20 years respectively with no answers. This nine year old girl – nine-year-old girl – in elementary school who was walking home from buying pencils was brutally raped,’ Barnes continued.
Konther is being held in the Orange County Jail. Bail has been set at $1 million and he is set to be arraigned on Monday.
It is unclear whether Konther has an attorney who could speak on his behalf. If convicted, he faces 125 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors have said there is a possibility of additional charges in the case, and that there may be other victims.