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ELK, Wash. - The Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) at Spokane County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) says detectives have solved a child rape investigation that began nearly 20 years ago.
According to the release, 53-year-old Richard Johnson was arrested last week as the primary suspect in the rape of a child in Elk in August of 2002. Detectives say the victim, who was 13 at the time of the assault, claimed she met a man near Elk Park. She told investigators she and her friends saw a man sitting in a parked truck and listening to loud music, which caught their attention. The man coaxed the victim into the vehicle, isolated her, and sexually assaulted her. The victim filed a report and a rape kit was issued to collect evidence. Unfortunately, the suspect remained unidentified despite investigation. 
SAU detectives work both new and old cases. With the advancement of forensics and genetics, many long cold cases are cracked and suspects identified due to the preservation of DNA. In this case, the rape kit was analyzed in 2020 by the Washington State Crime Lab, finding DNA from an unknown individual. Months later, however, it was matched in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to the profile of Johnson, although the suspects whereabouts were unknown.
Detective Mike Wall made attempts to locate Johnson without success. It was believed Johnson was transient by that time, making it difficult to locate him. In the interim, probable cause was established to charge Johnson with first-degree rape of a child and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation, and an arrest warrant was issued.
On April 20 of this year, Johnson was pulled over for a traffic stop and arrested due to the warrant. An interview was conducted the next day, during which Johnson confessed to the crime. He remains in Spokane County Jail on a $50,000 bail.