DNA leads to arrest of Santa Rosa man in teen's 2011 rape

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Seven years after a 14-year-old girl flagged down a CHP officer in Rohnert Park to report she had been attacked and raped by an unknown man, DNA evidence has helped police identify a suspect in the case.

William Deen Brown, 39, of Santa Rosa was booked into the Sonoma County Jail Friday afternoon on suspicion of four felony crimes, including forcible rape and assault with attempt to commit rape of a minor, Rohnert Park Public Safety Sgt. Jeff Justice said. He’s being held on $200,000 bail.

Brown was living in Rohnert Park until February, when he was arrested on suspicion of felony sexual assault of a woman he was living with at the time, Justice said. A sample of Brown’s DNA was taken when he was booked into jail in that case, although prosecutors never charged him with a crime.

With his DNA entered into a criminal database, he was flagged as a possible suspect in the 2011 rape. Rohnert Park police were notified of the possible match in March.

The girl was attacked in November 2011 on Redwood Drive near Rohnert Park Expressway.

She noticed a man was following her, and she tried to walk away, heading north on Redwood Drive while calling or texting her mother, police said.

She said she turned back when she thought he was no longer following her but he had been waiting, police said.

As she passed, Brown emerged from where he’d been hiding near Hinebaugh Creek “grabbed her and forced her down into the creek,” Justice said.

After the assault, the girl flagged down the CHP officer, reported the crime and underwent a medical examination that revealed the suspect’s DNA, police said. She also provided a description of the suspect — later found to match Brown, officials said.

Police searched the area, but the investigation went cold.

Justice said officers will review outstanding sexual assault cases in Rohnert Park to determine whether Brown matches the suspect descriptions.

The case is the second unsolved crime in Rohnert Park to result in a recent arrest due to DNA evidence.

In September, Sacramento authorities identified a Benicia man, Roy Waller, as the “NorCal Rapist,” a suspected serial rapist linked to about 10 crimes including a 1991 attack in Rohnert Park.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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