Thanks to a cup of coffee and DNA technology, a man is facing felony charges in connection to rapes that occurred more than two decades ago in Michigan and at Penn State University, authorities said.
Penn State Police issued an arrest warrant for Kurt Alan Rillema, 51, of West Bloomfield, who is currently in jail on a rape charge in Michigan, according to WTAJ-TV.
Rillema was arrested Monday at his Michigan home by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, The Centre Times Daily reported. He was accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in 1999 at Twin Lakes Golf Club, located about 30 miles north of Detroit, according to the newspaper.
DNA also has allegedly linked Rillema to a similar assault on July 27, 2000, on a golf course on the Penn State campus, according to WDIV-TV.
The second assault allegedly occurred on the Penn State Blue Course, WJAC-TV reported. The victim stated she had been raped while jogging, according to the television station.
According to court documents, Rillema allegedly left DNA behind in the Penn State rape and it ultimately matched the DNA from the rape case in Michigan, WTAJ reported.
Penn State Police and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office submitted DNA samples to a third-party laboratory, according to the television station.
A genealogical match on Jan. 17, 2023, led police to three brothers, WTAJ reported. One of them was a Penn State student in 2000, which led police to believe that Rillema was in State College, Pennsylvania, visiting his brother when the rape happened.
After interviewing the three brothers, police began to suspect Rillema and began to follow him, according to the television station.
According to the court documents, police observed Rillema at a car dealership in March, where he drank a cup of coffee and threw the cup in a garbage can. It was taken by deputies and was submitted for DNA testing, where it matched the DNA submitted in both rape cases, WTAJ reported.
University police detective and lead investigator Nicholas Sproveri, detective Rob Ruggiero and State College police detective Stephen Bosak assisted in the arrest, according to the Daily Times.
“Victims of violent crimes, like rape, can never forget that terrible moment,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said in a statement. “It is incumbent on us to never give up on finding perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice. With new technology and investigative capabilities, sometimes we can close cases that have been open for years, if not decades. That is what happened in this case. We will never give up.”
Rillema is facing a charge of rape by forcible compulsion in Pennsylvania, according to WDIV. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Rillema was arraigned in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on first-degree and second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges for the Oakland County sexual assault, according to the television station. He is being held without bond in the Oakland County Jail.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, WDIV reported. If convicted of the first-degree sexual assault charge, Rillema could face life in prison. The second-degree charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, according to the television station.