CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Clayton County Police Chief Kevin Roberts said Wednesday there had been a "cloud over our community" as a serial rapist terrorized the area through at least eight known attacks dating back to 2015.
That cloud, he said, is now gone.
Kenneth Thomas Bowen III made his first court appearance Wednesday morning. He is charged with seven counts of rape and one additional charge of sexual battery, and is being held without bond.
In a press conference, police explained how Bowen's alleged streak of sexual violence was finally brought to an end with his arrest on Tuesday.
Bowen, police said, matched via DNA in all eight known cases.
They obtained his DNA last week during a traffic stop. It came after a wide-ranging investigation that finally arrived at him as the primary suspect.
At least seven previous suspects had been identified and were ruled out via DNA testing, along with numerous other individuals who were interviewed based on tips.
Lt. Tom Reimers in the Clayton County Police Criminal Investigation Division said detectives began by reviewing 911 calls about suspicious persons. He said that though none of the victims could point investigators to a name, given that the suspected serial rapist was breaking in through windows and operating around apartment complexes, there likely would at least have been 911 calls from nearby residents about a suspicious person that could possibly lead to the culprit.
He said a review of that archive did eventually lead to Bowen's name, by an officer contacting him in 2016.
From there, they obtained a photograph and said it bore "striking similarities" to the sketches drawn by GBI sketch artist Kelly Lawson.
They then examined his background and scanned social media profiles, matching up details victims had gave about the suspect with details related to Bowen. That included, police said, his car broadly matching the description a witness had said the suspect drove away in after one attack and tattoos on his arm that matched a victim's description.
They also came upon a relative's social media profile showing him in a Clayton County Police uniform, which is how they came upon the information that Bowen himself had once been hired by the police department.
Roberts said Bowen was in the academy from June-September 2018, and was dismissed after he showed up hours later one day and gave evasive, contradictory explanations as to why. The relative is also no longer with the department.
With additional information Bowen had given to the department upon his hiring and cell phone records provided by the Clayton County District Attorney's Office, police obtained their search warrant last week.
That finally resulted in Tuesday's arrest, which was made at his place of employment by the U.S. Marshals, Roberts said.
"This was outstanding teamwork and outstanding investigative police work," Roberts said. "At its core, the county is safer on this day because of this collaboration and the county is safer on this day because of the hard work of Clayton County Police Department officers and detectives."
"It's my pleasure to say we are in a safer state today because of Kenneth Bowen's arrest," the chief added.
His next court appearance is Sept. 24 at 8 a.m.