ELB/Belmont Shore Serial Rape Suspect Arrested by LBPD
(November 11, 2002) -- LBPD has announced the arrest of a suspect in a series of rapes that terrorized residents of ELB, Belmont Shore and beyond.
At an afternoon news conference at LBPD HQ, Police Chief Anthony Batts announced the arrest of 32 year-old Mark Wayne Rathbun of LB in connection with a string of sexual assaults primarily in LB (focused in ELB and Belmont Shore) and also affecting Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos and Seattle since 1996.
In a written release, LBPD said suspect Rathbun was detained by responding patrol officers after he was located within the established perimeter of an attempted sexual assault that occurred in the area of Lakewood Blvd. and Stearns St. on November 7, 2002. (LBReport.com was the first LB media outlet to report the attempted assault.)
Chief Batts said East Division police officers set up a perimeter within five minutes of the November 7 call and an LBPD patrol officer and detective stopped suspect Rathbun three blocks away as he rode away on his bicycle.
In a written release, LBPD indicated Rathbun was initially arrested on an unrelated drug charge...but posted bail. However, police said they kept him under surveillance until LBPD received "conclusive information that evidence collected from him matched physical evidence gathered from 13 previous sexual assaults."
Chief Batts indicated LBPD learned on November 10 (with fast work from the L.A. Sheriffs' crime lab) that DNA evidence included a unique marker indicating Rathbun was the suspect they were looking for.
LBPD's release said an arrest warrant was then secured and LBPD detectives, who had trailed Rathbun to the city of Oxnard, arrested him on November 10.
"To the citizens of LB, sleep well tonight. Sleep well tonight. Sleep well. We have the suspect," Chief Batts said. He added that Rathbun "is cooperative and answering some questions."
Chief Batts thanked (among others) LBPD patrol officers including East Division afternoon and graveyard watches, LBPD's Detective Bureau, Sex Crimes Detail and LBPD crime lab...and offered special thanks to commanding officers of the serial rapist task force, LBPD Dep. Chief Steve Bonsoir and Commander Linda Beardslee.
Mayor O'Neill thanked LBPD for its tenacity, perseverance and their hard work. The news conference was also attended by (among others) Councilmembers Dennis Carroll and Jackie Kell, police brass from LBPD, Huntington Beach PD, Los Alamitos PD and L.A. Sheriffs Office (crime lab).
Suspect Rathbun is in the LB city jail on $2,000,000 bail. Investigators will present the case to the L.A. County DA's office.