Authorities announced that DNA found on a coffee mug linked a Michigan man to two decades-old rapes committed on golf courses, including one at Penn State University.
Kurt Alan Rillema of West Bloomfield is accused of sexually assaulting two women in Oakland Charter Township in 1999 and on the golf course at Penn State University in 2000.
Rillema is accused of attacking a woman who was working at a concession stand on the golf course in the first incident.
According to a statement from Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, “An unidentified man entered through the rear employer door and demanded that she remove her clothes before sexually assaulting her.”
Rillema is accused of striking again nine months later on July 27. He allegedly asked a woman, aged 19, who was jogging at the Blue Course, 18th hole, Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania for a band-aid and if she knew how to get to the clubhouse.
When she tried to leave, he allegedly held a knife to her throat and dragged her into the woods, punched her in the stomach, and raped her, according to court papers cited by Law&Crime.
Authorities obtained DNA evidence from both rapes, which was uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System, but there was no hit to a suspect.
In July 2021 the sheriff’s office and Penn State Police collaborated to solve cold cases. They decided to try the cutting-edge technology of DNA. They sent the evidence to Parabon Nanolabs, which will test it for genetic genealogy.
This discipline uses a combination of genetic analysis and genealogy research to identify matches in public databases.
After identifying the related family members of a DNA sample, public data as well as other clues can be used to create family trees.
In the case of Rillema DNA investigators began with distant relatives dating back to the 1700s. They then narrowed down the pool of potential suspects to only three brothers.
Court documents state that investigators were able to quickly pinpoint Rillema because he lived close to the Twin Lakes Golf Club at the time of the second rape and his brother attended Penn State.
The authorities began to monitor Rillema early this year and obtained a coffee cup containing a DNA sample.
Sean McGraw, the first assistant district attorney for Centre County in Pennsylvania, said that the DNA matched both of the rapes.
The sheriff said that there may be more victims. “He is an avid golfer, and he plays golf all across the country,” he added.
Rillema was charged in Michigan with first and second-degree felony criminal sexual behavior.
Rillema is facing felony charges in Pennsylvania for rape and sexual assault, as well as aggravated indecent abuse.
He could face life imprisonment if convicted of his top charge. He is currently being held without bail.