Since 2015, Jonesboro, Georgia, residents and those in the surrounding areas had been terrorized by a series of rapes. At first, investigators weren’t sure the rapes were connected, since the method used to intimidate or find victims differed. Evidence would later suggest that one man was behind each of the attacks.
For nearly three years, police were unable to figure out who was committing the rapes, despite police sketches and information from the victims. The tides finally turned in 2018, when the man who has now been charged with the crimes joined the Clayton County Police Department academy. Kenneth Bowen III was arrested last Tuesday for seven rapes and one sexual battery.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Bowen joined the police academy on June 25, 2018 but was fired less than three months later after he showed up to training four hours late and lied to supervising officers about where he was.
At the time, police were still trying to figure out who was raping black women. The AJC reported that the most recent attack involved a woman who was raped in her home at knifepoint. The attack was interrupted when the woman’s boyfriend came home. The perpetrator was able to get away before police could find him.
During a press conference last Wednesday announcing the arrest, Clayton County Police Chief Keven Roberts said that Bowen may not have been caught had he not joined the police academy. During the investigation, police “realized that it’s possible that if he was committing these crimes, breaking into women’s windows and assaulting people by buildings near their apartment complexes, then somebody over the last few years must have talked to police and said, ‘This guy is a suspicious person in the area,’” said Lt. Thomas Reimers, a Clayton County investigators who worked on the case.
When investigators looked back through 911 calls regarding suspicious people near the attacks, they came across Bowen’s name. They then looked over incident reports “to see if any of the details pointed to Bowen,” the AJC reported. They discovered that victims had mentioned tattoos on the attacker’s right arm and the vehicle he in which he escaped. Police discovered photos on Bowen’s social media accounts and learned he had a car that matched the vehicle description. Also, he looked like the police sketches of the suspect.
Further, police came across a photo that showed a family member of Bowen’s in a police uniform. This is when police realized their suspect also had briefly worked for them. More background information revealed the tattoos mentioned by victims matched those on Bowen’s arm.
Police then obtained a warrant for Bowen’s DNA and were able to forensically link Bowen to rapes and the sexual battery. The AJC reported that the attacks “all happened within a 2-mile radius of where Bowen lived.”
Reimers thanked the victims for coming forward to help catch their attacker.
“I wanted to address the victims,” he said. “They are true survivors. Without them coming forward to the police department to provide details of the assaults in intimate detail and sitting down with [Georgia Bureau of Investigation sketch artist] Kelly Lawson, we would not have been able to get a sketch of the individual.”