The Riverside County District Attorney and police chiefs from Corona and Riverside held a press conference to announce an arrest in a serial cold case today/Wednesday. Please be advised the following audio story contains details of sexual assault.
Corona Police Chief George Johnstone says DNA evidence and genetic genealogy led to an arrest for a series of rape cold cases more than 25 years old.
50-year-old Darin Edward Cooke, faces 16 counts including forceable rape and assault against six victims.
The charges for the crimes occurring between 1996 and 2007 in Corona and Riverside allege Cooke stalked victims, and put them at gunpoint and knife point. Several of the crimes occurred at the San Pueblo Apartment Complex now called the Corona Point Apartments. Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez was working the area as a patrol officer when the first case happened.
“I remember the terror that went through that small community and all of us beat officers hoping and wishing to find this person and take him into custody," said Gonzalez. "And my message is also to the victims, we are truly sorry for the terror you went through and we’re hoping this gives you some peace.”
When local investigators saw a match in DNA between two cold cases, they sent the information to the FBI who then used a genetic genealogical pool to name Cooke a suspect. Additional testing of Cooke’s DNA showed a match to evidence collected at all six crime scenes.
Riverside County D.A. Mark Hestrin says he expects a full criminal trial.
“DNA is powerful evidence, no question, but it’s not the only evidence," said Hestrin. "We will need to put on a full trial to present to a jury what happened, exactly what happened.”
Cooke, who lived in Western Riverside County during the crimes, was arrested on May 26 in Arizona and was extradited back to California. He is currently detained at the Robert Presley Detention Center awaiting arraignment.