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Spokane County Sheriff's Office makes arrest in 20-year-old rape cold case

Sheriff's deputies arrested 53-year-old Richard J. Johnson on April 20 in relation to a child rape case from 2002.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Warning: This article discusses sexual abuse of a child and may be disturbing to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) Sexual Assault Unit (SAU) arrested a 53-year-old man on April 20 in connection to a child rape cold case from 2002.

In June 2021, a Spokane County detective was assigned an unsolved sexual assault that occurred on August 21, 2002.

At the time, the 13-year-old victim told police that she met a man who was sitting in his truck and listening to loud music near Elk Park. The victim said the loud music caught the attention of her and her friends.

The victim told police that the man convinced her to get into his car, isolated her and sexually assaulted her.

A rape kit was completed to collect evidence at the time of the incident and an investigation was conducted, according to SCSO. However, the suspect was not identified.

The rape kit collected in 2002 was later analyzed by the Washington State Crime Lab in 2020. During the analysis, male DNA from an unknown individual was found. The DNA was later matched in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to 53-year-old Richard J. Johnson, according to SCSO.

At the time, Johnson's whereabouts were not known.

The SCSO detective assigned to the case continued to try to locate Johnson without success. The detective believed Johnson was now transient, which made him difficult to locate.

Because of this, SCSO said the detective established probable cause to charge Johnson with first-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment with sexual motivation. An arrest warrant was eventually granted.

Johnson was arrested on his warrant during a traffic stop in April 2022. During an interview with the detective assigned to the case, SCSO said Johnson confessed.

Johnson remains in the Spokane County Jail. His bond was set at $50,000.

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