Whatcom County Sheriff detectives were following up on a list of possible matching vehicles from a list that a Bellingham Police crime analyst had compiled of similar vehicles registered in Whatcom County.
Detectives went to the address of the suspect where they noticed a van that matched the description that the two victims in this case had provided to officers. The sheriff detectives also believed the van matched the video from the transit terminal. Detectives then saw the suspect standing in his yard. Detectives believed he matched the description from the video and was wearing what they believed to be the same shoes he had been wearing on the night of the crime. The suspect saw the deputies so they spoke to him asking for information on an unrelated crime so as to not to alert him to their investigation and suspicions.
Detectives from Bellingham Police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s offices then provided information to the Whatcom County prosecutor, which led to the issuance of search warrants for the residence at 4383 Rock Road, Sumas and an Oldsmobile minivan.
Evidence in this case had been previously submitted to the Washington State Crime lab, which led to a DNA CODIS match to an unidentified male with two outstanding cases. One of the cases is a February 2, 2015, strangulation and sexual assault case in which a female victim was walking home in Bellingham after the Super Bowl. The suspect contacted the victim and made a verbal threat, which caused her to get in his vehicle. The suspect then began to drive her around Whatcom County. During the incident the victim was strangled by the suspect by placing a belt around her neck. He then sexually assaulted her. The victim was able to somehow escape the suspect and call for help.
The other outstanding case is from an unsolved sexual assault of a juvenile female in 2003 in Los Angeles, California.
Olivas has a juvenile arrest in 1998 under the name of Michael Anthony Coles for robbery, kidnapping and carjacking in California.
Detectives from Bellingham and Whatcom County are following up on these cases and will be searching for any other cases in Washington State and around the country.
This case exemplifies the team work of law enforcement in Whatcom County to make our community a safer place.
If you have any further tips or information that you feel detectives should know, please call Detective Darla Wagner 360-778-8767 or Detective Dan Kelsh 360-778-8690 or report it to the City’s website tip line at www.cob.org/tips.
Information provided and written by: Mike Johnston, Lieutenant Investigations / Bellingham Police Department
June 16, 2016 (Thursday)