Crime

Top crime stories of 2016: Rapes reported in Maritime Heritage Park

Maritime Heritage Park rape suspect appears in court

Lance Rosa appears in Whatcom Superior Court in Bellingham, Monday, June 20, 2016, charged with a kidnapping and rape that occurred in Maritime Heritage Park June 7.
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Lance Rosa appears in Whatcom Superior Court in Bellingham, Monday, June 20, 2016, charged with a kidnapping and rape that occurred in Maritime Heritage Park June 7.

A woman reported being raped in June by two strangers in Maritime Heritage Park. Only one suspect had been charged with a crime in the case.

The woman told police she’d been walking down Holly Street when a man in cargo pants and a button-down shirt asked for a cigarette. He called himself “Chance.” They were walking on a boardwalk into the park when he shoved her to the ground below. He restrained her and forced her to perform oral sex on a second man who had been nearby, according to charging papers. “Chance” raped her, too, she reported.

Police identified the first suspect as Lance Joseph Rosa, 37, who was staying under a bridge in the park. He bore a “striking resemblance” to a composite sketch released by police, according to the deputy prosecutor, Eric Richey. Rosa had a pierced nipple, as described by the victim, and he gave a DNA sample to police that later turned out to be a match.

He was arrested June 18. At his first court appearance Rosa flipped off the courtroom through a video screen.

A forensic psychologist noted a history of Tourette’s syndrome, a hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse, court records show. In August he was found competent to assist in his legal defense. He awaits a trial date in January.

Police haven’t arrested another suspect. The woman’s description of him was blurrier: white, skinny, perhaps in his 60s.

Two months after that incident, another man was accused of raping another woman in the park. That man, Michael Eugene Huskey, 46, pleaded guilty to assault in the second degree in October, after the victim told law enforcement she didn’t want to pursue the case. Other than the location, Huskey’s case is not connected to the Rosa incident.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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