DNA evidence used to track down Arizona man in connection with Riverside County rape cases dating back nearly 25 years

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DNA evidence was used to track down a suspected serial rapist who has been charged with 16 felony counts in cases that involve six different women in Riverside County dating back almost 25 years, officials announced Wednesday.

Darin Edward Cooke is seen in a series of photos dating back nearly 25 years released by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office on June 17, 2020.
Darin Edward Cooke is seen in a series of photos dating back nearly 25 years released by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office on June 17, 2020.

Darin Edward Cooke, 50, of Chino Valley, Arizona, has been charged with six counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, three counts of assault with the intent to commit rape or oral copulation during a first-degree burglary, two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit rape or oral copulation, and one count of forcible sexual penetration.

Eleven counts involve crimes that occurred in the city of Riverside in 1996 and 1998, while five counts are in connection with crimes that occurred in Corona in 2007, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

All six victims are tied to Cooke, five of them forcibly raped. Officials believe Cooke used a knife or a handgun during all of the crimes.

In 2015, a Riverside police detective submitted a “declaration in support of an arrest warrant” for a “John Doe” based on DNA evidence collected from crime scenes or victims. In addition, the DA’s Office filed a criminal complaint.

Last year, Corona police began looking at several sexual assault cold cases and reached out to Riverside police based on similar cases in their jurisdiction, officials said.

With the help of a forensic genetic genealogy team at the FBI, investigators were able to identify Cooke as their “John Doe.”

To obtain his DNA, officials surveilled Cooke and collected trash bags from his home in Arizona. The evidence collected matched the DNA profile for “John Doe.”

Cooke was arrested in Prescott, Arizona on May 26. Officials said he lived in Arizona for several years.

Authorities extradited the suspect to California on June 15. He is scheduled to be arraigned via video on Wednesday.

“We appreciate the great work done by our partners at the Corona and Riverside police departments and the FBI in identifying and locating this serial rapist,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Wednesday. “But it is most important to keep in mind the victims of this serial rapist. Because of the diligent work by law enforcement, the victims of these horrible crimes may now rightly hope — even though it has been many years — that we will finally be able to bring them justice.”

The investigation into Cooke is ongoing as detectives follow up on other crimes that he may have committed.

Anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Cooke can call Supervising DA Investigator Ryan Bodmer at 951-955-5400.

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