FIRST ON KIRO 7: Suspect in elderly rape case identified

by: Casey McNerthney, KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

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SEATTLE - A man who was released from prison last month is suspected of raping and robbing a 78-year-old woman Wednesday in Seattle's International District. And court documents show he committed a similar International District robbery in 2008 - one in which police said there was sexual motivation.

Jacob L. Ward, 34, was stopped by a West Precinct patrol officer and booked on a Department of Corrections warrant.

The rape happened shortly before 2 p.m. in the International District. Police initially were called to the 200 block of 6th Avenue South, near South Washington Street, for the report of an assault and robbery. Police were told the suspect fled.

Officers later determined the woman was raped, Seattle police detective Jeffrey Kappel said.

Ward was being supervised out of the Seattle field office as terms of his first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery convictions.

DOC started supervising him on June 10 – the day he was released for completing a 4 1/2-year prison sentence, department spokesman Chad Lewis said.

But two days later the DOC issued a warrant for Ward's arrest because he didn't report to his community corrections officer.

That's what Ward was arrested for Thursday morning. He has not been charged in the rape case.

>>> KIRO 7 reporter David Ham spoke exclusively to the elderly victim's daughter and will share the victim's story tonight on Eleven at 11.

Ward was in prison from January 2009 until June 10, starting in Shelton and moving to Stafford Creek and Walla Walla before completing his sentence at the Monroe Correctional Center.

In Ward’s summer 2008 case that sent him to prison, police said he approached a woman in the International District, followed her inside a building and began running his exposed penis. The woman hit Ward with her umbrella and went into her office to escape.

Police said Ward pushed his way into her office where he said he had a knife and demanded money.

“At this time, (the victim) felt that she was going to die,” a detective wrote in a probable cause document. Another woman heard her screams for help and a third person called police, according to court documents.

Ward was arrested later that July and denied sexual motivation in the incident. That arrest led to his burglary and robbery convictions.

In this week's case, police said Ward was arrested near 6th Avenue South and South Dearborn Street in the International District. The investigation is ongoing.

"The suspect apparently followed her in the door, and once in the hallway, punched her in the head, punched her in the body, knocked her to the ground got on top of her," Kappel said of the Wednesday incident. "He had a knife in his hand, held it to her body, proceeded to sexually assault her, and then robbed her of her money before fleeing the scene on foot."

Police believe that Ward also robbed another woman at the same apartment complex last Friday when he stole her purse. Police had identified the victim as an 80-year-old, but the woman's daughter corrected the woman's age for KIRO 7.

"I'm just really shocked that it happened, especially during the daylight and it happened on this particular street," said Paul Murakami, whose family has been a part of the International District community since the 1930s.

Jan Johnson, who owns the Panama Hotel across the street from where the attacks happened, also was stunned.

"I come out here," she said. "I'm out here all the time at night, and I feel safe."