An analysis of DNA evidence has linked the three attacks, between February and July 2014, to one perpetrator. Anyone with information on him should call the agency's sexual-assault unit at 206-684-5575.

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Roughly four years after three women were abducted in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and then raped separately, detectives say one man is behind the series of 2014 attacks and they are seeking the public’s help finding him.

If you need help

News reports of sexual-assault allegations could be a trigger for victims and survivors of abuse. Here are some resources:
  • The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center offers a 24-hour resource line (888-998-6423). Additionally, KCSARC can help connect people with therapy, legal advocates and family services (kcsarc.org/gethelp).
  • UW Medicine’s Center for Sexual Assault & Traumatic Stress (depts.washington.edu/hcsats) offers resources, including counseling and medical care. For immediate help, call 206-744-1600.
  • For readers outside King County, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs lists 38 Washington state providers that offer free services. (wcsap.org/find-help)
  • RAINN: Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network provides a free, confidential hotline (800-656-4673) and online chat (hotline.rainn.org) with trained staff members.

Using DNA evidence — which can come from a victim’s body and clothing, sometimes called rape kits — and additional interviews with the women, Seattle police say they are looking for an unidentified man they believe approached the women walking, on three early mornings between February and July, in a black SUV and offered them a ride.

Then, victims said the man drove to a nearby parking lot and raped them in the vehicle, according to Seattle police.

The link between the cases, announced by Seattle police in a news release Wednesday, comes after a push by state leaders to clear Washington’s backlog of thousands of rape kits that sat untouched by forensic analysis for years.

Seattle police said one of the victims described the alleged attacker as a man in his late 20s or early 30s, under 6 feet tall, with a thin to average body type and dark complexion.

He was allegedly driving a Ford or Chevy SUV at the time of the abductions, in which investigators say he sexually assaulted the women while parked in a lot outside Miller Park Community Center, located in the 300 block of 19th Avenue East.

The release includes a forensic sketch of what the suspected perpetrator may look like. Police ask anyone with information on him to call the department’s sexual-assault unit at 206-684-5575.

No further details on the suspect, or the women, were immediately known.

For the investigations, Seattle police said officers in early 2015 submitted DNA evidence to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, which is where investigators enter DNA profiles from alleged perpetrators into a national database operated by the FBI.

In July of that year, a law went into effect requiring police agencies across Washington to send every new kit to the lab, amid a logjam of such kits remaining unexamined for years because of limited funding and staffing issues at the crime lab.

Forensic scientists linked the alleged perpetrator to the three Capitol Hill cases in late 2017, according to Seattle police.

Then, detectives conducted another round of interviews with each of the victims, following initial talks, “furthering investigators’ belief that a single unknown suspect was responsible for the crimes,” the release says.

Before the 2015 law change, individual officers or detectives decided which kits to send to the lab for testing. Often, kits weren’t analyzed if the victim knew her assailant because creating a DNA profile was deemed unnecessary.

Six months before the law went into effect, former Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole ordered that all new rape kits be submitted for testing and said her department would begin addressing its backlog of old kits. In December 2016, Seattle police finished submitting paperwork to the crime lab on 1,063 old rape kits, the oldest from 1996.

Statewide, there remain an estimated 6,000 untested kits. In October, Washington received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

In an effort to better investigate rape and sexual assault, Washington police departments are processing the estimated 6000 rape kits stored in evidence rooms and are required to send new all kits to the crime lab. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Times reporter Sara Jean Green contributed to this report.