Discarded Coffee Cup Leads to Arrest for 2 Long-Ago Rapes

Kurt Alan Rillema accused of raping women in Michigan (1999) and Pennsylvania (2000)
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 10:40 AM CDT
Discarded Coffee Cup Leads to Arrest in Golf Course Rapes
Kurt Alan Rillema.   (Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

An "avid golfer" in Michigan is facing charges of raping two women at golf courses more than 20 years ago after police pulled DNA from a coffee cup he threw away. Police say DNA links Kurt Alan Rillema, 51, of West Bloomfield, to a September 1999 attack at the Twin Lakes Golf Club in Michigan's Oakland Township and a July 2000 attack near Pennsylvania's Penn State Blue Golf Course, per USA Today. In the first case, a man asked an employee of the club for directions to the clubhouse before approaching her behind a building, per StateCollege.com. The second attack was similar, with a man asking a jogger for directions to the clubhouse before holding a knife to her throat. The man reportedly beat and raped the jogger, then threatened to "come after her" if she told anyone.

"Despite the immediate notification of the police by the victim, her assailant fled and was able to avoid being apprehended, but he left behind a critical piece of evidence—his DNA," Sean McGraw, First Assistant District Attorney for Pennsylvania's Centre County, said at an April 18 press conference. A DNA profile was uploaded to the federal database CODIS in 2001. Three years later, the profile was found to match a sample from the 1999 case. Still, nearly two decades passed before a suspect was identified through genetic genealogy. Authorities zeroed in on Rillema and his two brothers, but they found Rillema's age and appearance matched with the 2000 victim's description. He lived close to the Twin Lakes Golf Club in 1999 and was likely visiting a brother at Penn State in July 2000, police said.

Police said they confirmed his DNA was present in both cases after recovering a used coffee cup discarded on Jan. 31. Arrested April 17, Rillema was arraigned the following day in Michigan on charges of first- and second-degree felony criminal sexual conduct and is held without bond. He's also to be charged with felony counts of rape, sexual assault, and aggravated indecent assault in Pennsylvania's Centre County, per StateCollege.com. "We are in the process of discussing with Michigan authorities the sequence of prosecution in these cases," McGraw said. Police are also looking for additional victims, asking those who suffered a similar attack—occurring on a golf course, for example—to contact authorities, per USA Today. (More cold cases stories.)

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