Bellingham Police: DNA links Sumas man to 3 sex assaults, likely more

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The suspect is 36-year-old Edmund Olivas from Sumas. He faced a Whatcom County judge Thursday.

Police said Olivas is a serial rapist and investigators can prove their allegations with his DNA.

Olivas could be facing 3 counts of kidnapping and 3 counts of rape.

Police believe Olivas has only been living in Western Washington for a couple of years.

Investigators said his first victim was kidnapped and raped while walking home from a Super Bowl party in 2015.

“He’s brazen,” said Lt. Mike Johnston with the Bellingham Police Department. “He thought he was going to get away with it.”

Police believe Olivas is the suspect they have been searching for since he was spotted on surveillance video at a Bellingham bus station.

Two high school girls told police they got into Olivas’ van after he asked them for directions.

But police said Olivas instead then took the two girls out into the rural country, bound them with shoelaces and sexually assaulted them. There, prosecutors allege Olivas threatened to kill the two and their families if they called police

The girls managed to get away, but and had to walk barefoot from Lynden to Bellingham without their shoes because they allege Olivas stole them.

“High school girls who were trying to be helpful and give directions and drive a person who they believed to be from Canada,” said Johnston.

Prosecutors said Olivas is from California. Not only do investigators believe DNA evidence ties him to three Whatcom County sexual assaults, but also a fourth dating back to the early 1990s where an 11-year-old girl’s rape went unsolved in Los Angeles.

Police believe there could be many more victims.

“There may be other cases out there and we’re going to try to solve those and give the victims and their families peace of mind that we have a predator off the streets,” said Johnston.

Olivas was arrested at his Sumas home early Thursday morning. Investigators said they tracked his van, which had been spotted in surveillance video from the Bellingham bus station around the time the latest victims claimed to have met Olivas.

Neighbors in Sumas had heard about the sexual assaults, but many never thought police would find a suspect among them.

“I just assumed it was all Bellingham area, I didn’t think it would be anything out here,” said neighbor Ellen Williams. “It makes you stop and think, do you really know your neighbors?”

A judge set Olivas’ bail at $1 million. Prosecutors expect the suspect to be back in court later in June.