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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Two decades later, test of 13-year-old’s rape kit leads to arrest of suspect in Spokane

UPDATED: Wed., April 27, 2022

Detectives have arrested a 53-year-old after a recently tested rape kit matched him to a 2002 rape of girl who was 13 at the time

Richard J. Johnson was arrested during a traffic stop last week on suspicion of second-degree child rape and unlawful imprisonment, according to a news release from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The cold case arrest stems from Aug. 21, 2002, when a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy responded to 40011 N. Elk Camden Road after a girl reported she was raped, according to court documents.

The girl was at Elk Community park with two friends when they heard music coming from a pickup truck parked nearby. The teenagers went over to talk to the man who they described as having gray shoulder-length hair, a full beard and mustache wearing sunglasses, a “scrubby” green tank top and light blue jean shorts.

The man asked the ages of the girl and her friends, a boy and a girl, according to court documents. The victim told him she was 13 and he responded saying she looked much older, she told police.

The trio of teenagers got into the truck to listen to music. Not long after, the man began to smoke “crank,” a slang term for amphetamines, typically methamphetamine.

The man asked the two girls to show him their breasts and the girls “flashed him,” the victim told deputies at the time.

Eventually the other teen girl left the vehicle, leaving the victim and the boy inside the cab of the truck.

That’s when the man began to play with the victim’s hair and kiss her neck before telling the teen boy to get out of the truck, according to court documents. When the teenage boy said he wanted to stay with his friend, the man yelled at the boy to get out of the truck, according to court documents.

The man locked the girl in the truck and raped her, despite her pleas for him to stop, she told deputies.

After the assault, the man allowed the victim to leave but not before telling her, “You better not tell anyone about this or I will find you and you will regret it,” according to court documents.

The girl reported the rape immediately after the man let her out of his truck.

Detectives were able to collect the victim’s clothing, evidence in a sexual assault kit and chewing tobacco the man left at the scene. A suspect was not identified at the time and the sexual assault kit remained untested. The case then went cold.

In 2020, the rape kit was analyzed by the Washington State Crime Lab as part of the Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative that required all backlogged kits to be tested by the end of last year.

A few months later, the DNA profile from the kit matched the DNA profile of Johnson that was listed in CODIS, a national law enforcement DNA database. Johnson has a few criminal convictions in Spokane County, including solicitation to commit possession of a controlled substance from 2011 and criminal trespass and possession of stolen property from 2008. He has no prior sex offenses that require him to register as a sex offender.

Spokane County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Wall was assigned the case in June 2021 and he began trying to find Johnson, who was difficult to locate because he was transient, according to the news release. Wall continued to investigate and developed probable cause to arrest Johnson. An arrest warrant was issued for Johnson, who was taken into custody during a traffic stop in Spokane on April 20.

The day after his arrest, Johnson confessed to the rape during an interview with Wall, according to the sheriff’s office. He is jailed in lieu of a $50,000 bond.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately indicated Johnson’s 2011 conviction, which was for solicitation to commit possession of a controlled substance. 

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