Crime

Police seek help finding this barn in abduction, rape of teens

Police are seeking the public’s help in determining where this barn is located in Whatcom County. They believe it could contain physical evidence from the abduction and rape of two teens.
Police are seeking the public’s help in determining where this barn is located in Whatcom County. They believe it could contain physical evidence from the abduction and rape of two teens. Bellingham Police Department

Police need help to find a barn or machine shop in rural Whatcom County where two teenagers were sexually assaulted by an abductor last month.

A man in a black New York Yankees hat persuaded the young women, both 18, to climb into his van around sunset May 27 at the Cordata bus station. He’d asked for directions to Samish Way.

Minutes later he held the teens at knifepoint, bound them with shoelaces, and drove them around the county in the van, according to charging papers.

Over the next hours he sexually assaulted the teens. One place they stopped was a barn: enclosed on three sides, with metal poles in front and a gravel floor. That’s where one piece of the assault occurred, said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht. It’s considered a crime scene where there could be key evidence.

But detectives have struggled to find the barn. Now they’re asking for the public to help. A police sketch of the building was released Thursday, June 30. It’s most likely in a rural area around Sumas, Everson or Lynden, according to the police department.

Anyone with tips can contact Detective Darla Wagner at 360-778-8767.

Both young women survived. The kidnapper dropped them off without their phones or shoes on a rural road near Lynden, according to the prosecutor’s office. They walked home to Bellingham in the early morning hours of May 28.

Weeks later detectives found a suspect through a mix of detective work and DNA tests. A crime analyst compiled a list of gray-green ’97 to ’04 Oldsmobile Silhouette vans registered in Whatcom County, the kind of van the man appeared to arrive in that night at the bus station.

Sheriff’s deputies checked on a van at a Sumas address on Rock Road. They found it had no console; captain’s chairs; and booster seats in the back – exactly as the teens had described.

The owner of the van, Edmund Richard Olivas Jr., 36, was arrested. Days later DNA linked him to the rapes; a second kidnapping and sexual assault from February 2015; and the sexual assault of an 11-year-old Los Angeles girl in 2003, police said.

County prosecutors charged Olivas with three counts each of first-degree rape, felony assault while armed with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping and felony harassment.

Olivas used to go by the name Michael Anthony Coles. He legally changed his name in April 2015.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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