Whidbey rapist makes state history

An Oak Harbor attempted rapist who was identified from a DNA sample recently became the first criminal in Island County to receive an indeterminate sentence under a new state law.

Kenny Mikell, 31, was transferred from prison to the Island County jail in order to face a charge that he raped a woman in her Oak Harbor home two years ago. Mikell pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to attempted rape and fourth-degree assault.

The judge sentenced Mikell to an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of 17 years and five months in prison, according to Criminal Criminal Prosecutor Steve Selby.

Under state law, people who commit certain sex offenses after Sept, 1, 2001, can receive indeterminate sentence. That means the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board will decide whether or not to release Mikell after he’s served the minimum sentence. He could conceivably stay behind bars for the rest of his life.

That sentence is on top of the seven-year sentence Mikell is currently serving in a robbery case. He was convicted of robbing Market Place Foods at knifepoint.

Mikell wasn’t a suspect in the 2001 rape case until DNA made the connection.

On the night of Oct. 10, a woman was sleeping in her bedroom, with her daughter in bed beside her, in an apartment building behind the Elks Club. A strange man came into the dark bedroom and attacked her, knocking the kindergarten-aged girl onto the floor. He pulled the woman’s T-shirt up over her face, then raped and assaulted her, according to court documents.

Selby said it was pitch black in the room, the rapist was a stranger to the woman, and he covered her face. “There was no way she could have identified that person,” he said.

The only evidence detectives had in the case was a DNA sample. The DNA was run through the state database, but there were no matches.

Since the detectives had no leads, the case was put on hold until Mikell was arrested in the unrelated robbery. Under state law, Mikell had to submit to DNA testing after he was convicted of the felony robbery charges. His DNA was entered into the database and “hit” on the rape case.

“I believe it was the first random sample hit we had in Washington,” Selby said. “The new system works pretty well. It happened right here in little Island County.”

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