Homeless man suspected of rape in unauthorized Seattle homeless camp

by: Casey McNerthney Updated:

A homeless man who stayed under the Interstate 5 overpass near the Mercer Street exit was arrested for investigation of rape and assault of a woman at the unauthorized homeless encampment. 

Wilson Kipkarir Koech, 45, is being held on $300,001 bail.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on September 11, police responded to the I-5 overpass looking east near Eastlake Avenue East and Aloha Street.

“Upon arrival, I observed the victim that had severe swelling of the face, to include eyes swollen shut,” Officer Sebastian Diaz wrote in his incident report. “I contacted the victim who stated she was beaten and raped.”

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The woman said the suspect was 6-foot-4 and went by the name Al, and it was his campsite.

The rape happened about 10 p.m. on September 10 and “the victim said the suspect told her he would return,” according to the report.

A person who contacted police said the victim was stumbling and later crawling before realizing she was severely injured.

Another officer processing the scene was approached by the suspect, later identified as Koech. He allegedly told police the campsite and mattress were his and he was with a female the night of September 10 and the following morning. The officer observed that his right hand was swollen.

There have been other sex crimes in unauthorized homeless camps earlier this year.

In March, a man was arrested for allegedly raping and trafficking a teenage runaway in Seattle's homeless encampment known as The Jungle.

King County prosecutors said James Jovanta Walker, then 27, repeatedly raped a then a 13-year-old runaway from Idaho after he lured her to his tent in the Jungle with the promise of black tar heroin.

Walker was the second Jungle resident arrested and suspected of sex trafficking a child that winter. Follow this link to read details about The Jungle cases, reported by KIRO 7’s Amy Clancy.