Serial rape suspect had been hired as police recruit in 2018: Chief

Clayton County Police(ATLANTA) -- A suspected serial rapist wanted for years has been nabbed in the Atlanta, Ga., area, after police investigators in Clayton County discovered he was a police recruit at their own department last year.

Eight cases have been linked by DNA to suspect 24-year-old Kenneth Thomas Bowen III, Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts said at a news conference Wednesday.

Bowen was arrested Tuesday on warrants for seven rapes and one sexual battery, Roberts said.

Since July 4, 2015, the department had been investigating a series of sexual assaults and rapes that became a "cloud over the community," Roberts said.

Most of Bowen's alleged assaults were within two miles of his house, said Clayton County Police Lt. Tom Reimers.

The suspected rapist was hired as a Clayton County police recruit last year, according to the chief.

Bowen "was hired, by me, in June of 2018," the chief said, "and he was also terminated by me on Sept. 12, 2018. He was removed from this agency during the academy process for being absent without leave. And during the internal investigation he was untruthful which caused me to separate him from this agency."

The chief explained that Bowen "was scheduled to attend academy training early on the morning in September, he failed to arrive on time as scheduled. When our leadership questioned him... he told them he gave them a 30 minute ETA [estimated time of arrival]. That 30 minute ETA turned into a 3 or 4 hour ETA, and upon arriving, he gave multiple statements that differed as to where he was and who he was with."

Bowen "was never a certified police officer with this agency," Roberts said.

"Had he not attempted to join the ranks of the Clayton County Police Department, it's questionable as to when we would have apprehended him," Roberts added.

Police started to catch on to Bowen when the department reviewed 911 call reports of suspicious people, Reimers said.

"We reviewed those calls and looked for names and the calls to see if perhaps an officer had in fact contacted him at some point in the past and run his name and birth date," Reimers said. "That did lead to obtaining his name and birth date from a call from 2016."

When looking at Bowen's photo, authorities noted a "striking resemblance" to the suspect sketches from victims, Reimers said.

A search warrant was obtained for Bowen's DNA last week; investigators surveilled Bowen at his current job and followed him back to Clayton County where they executed a traffic stop and took his DNA, Reimers said. The positive DNA result came back Tuesday, Reimers said.

"We are in a safer state today because of Kenneth Bowen's arrest," the chief said.

Bowen declined to speak to investigators, Reimers said.

Bowen is in the Clayton County Jail and was expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday morning where charges would be read to him, John Fowler, acting district attorney of the Clayton judicial circuit, said at a press conference. A preliminary hearing court date has not been determined, Fowler said.

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