Cell phone data helps Spokane Valley investigators arrest rape suspect

Authorities said Steven Pallett, 46, has been charged with first degree kidnapping and first degree rape.

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – A man accused of sexually assaulting a woman he offered a ride to was arrested Thursday afternoon.

Authorities said Steven Pallett, 46, has been charged with first degree kidnapping and first degree rape. He appeared in court Friday and his bond was set at $500,000.

On March 18, investigators began looking into a reported assault where a woman said she accepted a ride from a man who was armed with a gun and forced her to give him oral sex. After speaking with victim, she admitted she was working as a prostitute when she was picked up by the suspect near Sprague and Hatch.

Officials said the suspect drove to Valley Mission Park, near an A-frame wooden structure and they both got out of the car. The suspect told the victim he was not paying her, got a semi-automatic pistol from his car and pointed it at her, according to law enforcement. Authorities said he continued to threaten her with the gun and forced her to give him oral sex before he left the area in his car.

Officials said a sexual assault kit was done after the incident and a DNA profile was obtained. They said the profile was checked against other known DNA profiles without success.

Investigators said they were able to identify Pallett as a suspect using “tower dumps” obtained through a search warrant and eliminating phone numbers that did not coincide with the crime timeline. Authorities said the search warrant produced over 17,000 cell phone numbers from the areas of Sprague and Hatch and Valley Mission Park. Investigators cross referenced the numbers and those failing to match both locations during the determined time frames were eliminated. Detectives eventually narrowed the list down to 17 suspects. Of those 17, officials said only Pallett matched the description of the suspect. Investigators also learned Pallett owned a silver 2001 Chevy Cavalier and additional information provided by the victim matched.

Investigators said a search of the pawn database showed Pallett repeatedly pawned a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which also matched the description given by the victim. Those records listed a phone number for Pallett which was the same number identified from the cell phone data, according to officials. Investigators also learned Pallett had been reported for scaring, assaulting and patronizing prostitutes but none of the incidents led to an arrest. 

Officials also searched Pallett’s home where they found a semi-automatic handgun believed to have been used in the crime. They also obtained Pallet’s DNA. Investigators said it matched the DNA profile obtained through the victim’s sexual assault kit.

Authorities believe there could be more victims or witnesses to Pallett’s behavior. Anyone who may have been victimized or knows of Pallett’s behavior is asked to contact Detective Armstrong at 509-477-6610.

A judge set Pallett's bond at $500,000 at a hearing on Friday.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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