AP NEWS
Related topics

Rape Suspect Charged With 64 Felonies

November 14, 2002

%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ A suspected serial rapist linked to a string of sexual assaults in California and Washington after giving police a DNA sample was charged with 64 felonies.

The charges against Mark Wayne Rathbun, 32, included 28 rape counts in connection with attacks on 14 Southern California women.

The charges arise from assaults dating from January 1997 through last week, and were based on DNA evidence, the circumstances, and incriminating admissions Rathbun allegedly made following his arrest, police said.

Three of the rape charges against Rathbun involve a 77-year-old woman who was attacked in her Long Beach home twice within 17 days in 1999, said Deputy District Attorney Rich Goul. The last victim was a 30-year-old woman who fended off an attempted assault Nov. 7.

Rathbun did not enter a plea at his Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing Wednesday. His arraignment was postponed until Nov. 20 to allow his attorney to review the charges.

Judge Patrick Madden raised the suspect’s bail to $11 million _ $1 million for each time he allegedly broke into a woman’s home and assaulted her.

Goul said that because Rathbun has been convicted of a prior felony stemming from a 1989 burglary, he faces a minimum sentence of 550 years, or 50 years for each of 11 separate assaults. California law calls for a sentence of 1,062 years if he is convicted on all 64 counts, he said.

Police suspect Rathbun has sexually assaulted or attempted to assault as many as 31 women since 1996. Authorities said DNA evidence linked him to 13 sexual assaults in all.

Police said they believe Rathbun is responsible for 18 other cases based on their similarity to the ones that yielded physical evidence. Those cases remain under investigation, and additional charges are possible, Goul said.

Police described Rathbun as a drifter often seen bicycling through Belmont Shore, an upscale beachside community in Long Beach, where many of the attacks occurred.

Police said Rathbun told them he worked odd jobs such as painting, delivering Christmas trees and bagging groceries in the area.

Long Beach Cmdr. Linda Beardslee, who led the police investigation, said Wednesday that Rathbun could elude authorities because he didn’t have a steady address or employment.

``He was able to go out at all hours and stay out all night without having anyone question his behavior,″ Beardslee said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly