Special Reports

Unsolved 2000 sex attacks back on minds of officers

Investigators are looking hard at an unsolved series of sexual assaults in 2000, seeking possible links to Terapon Adhahn, the prime suspect in the abduction and slaying of Zina Linnik.

Publicly, law enforcement leaders say they are checking numerous cases locally and nationally for such links. However, the seven-year-old assaults here, which include DNA evidence, are receiving some of the closest scrutiny, federal and local law enforcement officials said Friday.

In 2000, the case led Tacoma police to release a composite sketch and announce a hunt for a serial rapist who was never caught. Pierce County prosecutors later took the unusual step of filing kidnapping and rape charges against a man identified only by his DNA profile.

The charges, filed in 2002 against “John Doe,” focused on the most prominent of the attacks. An 11-year-old Gault Middle School student was kidnapped about 7 a.m. May 31, 2000, as she walked to school. A man grabbed her and forced her into his pickup truck, taped her hands and covered her eyes and mouth.

The girl was raped, then released in a secluded area east of Fort Lewis, according to the charges. She freed her hands and walked along a dirt road until she was discovered by military personnel.

The child described her attacker as an Asian or Hispanic male, between 20 and 30, 5 feet 6 or 5 feet 7, with a thin build. He was clean-shaven, with short, dark hair shaved on the sides and flat on top.

Police later said the man drove a truck with a unique tire tread, which they hoped to trace, but the case stayed unsolved.

Four more attacks from the spring and summer of that year involved similar circumstances, and police concluded they were connected.

The women, ranging in age from 21 to 40, were grabbed off the street, bound, blindfolded and threatened with a knife. The attacker drove his victims away and sexually assaulted them before releasing them.

At the time, police said they believed the unknown man attacked more victims who did not come forward because of fear or embarrassment.