Police say Onelio Abundio Cardona-Hernandez was linked through DNA, fingerprints and identifications from photo montages to sexually motivated burglaries in the U District over the past several months.

Share story

A 35-year-old Seattle man has been ordered held for investigation of rape, indecent liberties and burglary arising from a series of attacks in rooming houses near the University of Washington campus.

Onelio Abundio Cardona-Hernandez, who police say was linked to the attacks through DNA, fingerprints and identifications from photo montages, appeared Monday in court, where King County District Court Judge David Christie set bail at $1 million.

Cardona-Hernandez was booked into the King County Jail Friday on one count of investigation of rape, one count of investigation of indecent liberties and four counts of burglary. At a court hearing Saturday, probable cause was found to hold Cardona-Hernandez while prosecutors prepare formal charges.

According to court documents, Seattle police believe a series of 12 similar, sexually motivated burglaries at large rooming houses began in December and continued into early this year, covering an area between the 1500 block of Northeast 45th Street and the 1900 block of Northeast 52nd Street just north of the University of Washington campus

Entry to the rooming houses was gained through front or back doors, or an unsecured window, primarily between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., according to the documents. Most of the residents were students at the UW, with seven to 10 women living in each house.

In some cases, victims woke to the assailant touching their shoulder, legs or feet while they were sleeping, according to the documents. In early March, police increased patrols in the University District.

The intruder was generally described as a Hispanic or Asian male, in his late 20s to early 30s, with short dark hair or longer hair on top, and with or without facial hair.

At Monday’s court hearing, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Barber said prosecutors plan to file one count of first-degree rape and three counts of first-degree burglary with sexual motivation, involving three women.

Barber also told the judge there were six similar cases during the same period in the neighborhood, a figure slightly below the police number.

All of the cases were “predatory,” said Barber, who, citing the risk to public safety, asked for $2 million in bail. He noted the “DNA hit” and photo identifications.

Christie set the $1 million amount. But he rejected a request to set bail at $10,000 made by Public Defender Tori Shepherd, who cited lack of criminal-conviction history on the part of Cardona-Hernandez, potential identification issues, varying descriptions by the victims and his sole support of his wife and children.

In the first case, a 22-year-old woman living in a rooming house occupied by about 10 women reported to police that she was sexually assaulted in the early-morning hours of Dec. 11. She told police she initially thought her boyfriend might be in the room, but when she called out his name the assailant suddenly left.

As part of the investigation, three women met independently with police sketch artists, whose drawings were released to the public in March.

On March 9, a man called police and, based on the sketches, provided a first name of “Abundio,” according to a police probable-cause statement filed in court, outlining the evidence against Cardona-Hernandez.

The caller told police “Abundio” worked in the area where the burglaries occurred, the statement says.

With the information, a detective was able to identify Cardona-Hernandez as a person of interest who goes by the name “Abundio” and works in the area, according to the statement.

Subsequently, two women, one identified as the victim of a January burglary and incident liberties, and the other a burglary during the same month, separately selected a photo of Cardona-Hernandez from a photo montage, the statement says.

On March 13, fingerprints lifted from a window at another burglary location in February were identified as belonging to Cardona-Hernandez, according to the statement.

Detectives interviewed Cardona-Hernandez on March 19, obtaining a DNA sample that was later linked by the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory to evidence in the sexual assault on the woman in December, the statement says.

Police were notified of the link Wednesday and Cardona-Hernandez was taken into custody Friday at his North Seattle home.

He is believed by police to be a suspect in the December case, the burglary where fingerprints were found and a burglary tied to one of the identifications, according to the statement.