CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the wrong age for the suspect in this case. The correction is included below.
By Tim Redmond
The rapist answered an ad in Redbooksf, a site where sex workers post their information for clients. He arrived at the Oakland apartment of the woman we’re calling Ms. R – and instead of contracting for sex, he beat her, dragged her from room to room, squeezed her head until her ears bled, and forced her into oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Then he stole her cell phone and some cash and fled.
It was Sept. 12, 2012.
Ms. R ran out of her door and started screaming for her neighbors. When police arrived, they took her report – and it wasn’t hard to identify a suspect. There was, according to police, a DNA match with one Kenneth Colter, a 32-year-old man with a history of petty theft, robbery, and resisting arrest who was on parole at the time.
But although they knew where he lived, and he was checking in regularly with his probation officer, Coulter wasn’t arrested until May, 2013. He’s now in Alameda County jail on multiple charges of sexual assault, legal documents in the case show.
Why did it take eight months to put Colter in custody? Oakland police say it was a mixture of understaffing, two retirements, and a complex case – but Lieutenant Kevin Wiley agrees it was unacceptable.
“This investigation passed through two separate investigators, both of whom retired before the case was completed,” Wiley told me. “Yes, there were witnesses to this case but issues arose with them positively identifying the offender.” Staffing for the division was at 50 percent of what it should be, and the case load was high; collecting the suspects’s DNA “took time,” he said.