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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Campbell County Man Linked to 3 Cold Cases in OH, May Be Linked to More In NKY

Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders says additional cold cases in Kentucky will be reviewed to see if they are connected with Blankenship.

20 years of charges; William Blankenship indicted on 3 counts of rape from 1999 through 2001.

By Jessie Eden

A trail of DNA left over the years has helped police solve crimes that were allegedly committed decades ago in Cincinnati.

Thanks to monumental strides in technology, a Campbell County man is now behind bars for three rapes he allegedly committed over 20 years ago.

In a press conference on Tuesday, February 11, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters released the named William Brian Blankenship, 55 as the suspect in three brutal rape cases in the Mt. Washington and Anderson Township area of the east side of Cincinnati.

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Blankenship was arrested in Southgate on Thursday, January 23, by the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, a special team made up of officers from Boone County, Campbell County, Kenton County. He is currently being held at the Campbell County Detention Center on $75K bond. His arraignment is scheduled for February 28.

With Blankenship in custody, Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders is asking Deters to review some cold cases in Northern Kentucky that Blankenship may have ties to.

20 Years Ago in Ohio:
In the press conference, Deters described Blankenship as a 'serial rapist'. Victims include one adult female, a 15-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl. Two of the victims were attacked in their own homes. One was taken from a tent, where she was having a sleep over with friends, and dragged into a field near her home and attacked.

All three rapes occurred off of Beechmont Avenue, between Mt. Washington and Anderson. Two of the scenes were only a block apart on Beacon Street and Ambar Ave. The other was just over one mile away on Voll Rd.

The three rape locations were only about 1.5 miles from each other. (Img: Google Maps)
There was a composite sketch released at the time of the crimes.

“This guy is beyond horrible. He is a pig," said Prosecutor Deters. "He raped little girls and we will have no mercy on him. This could be your sister or your daughter. He needs to rot in prison.”

Composite sketch released back in 1999/2001 of rape suspect.
This was displayed at the press conference on Tuesday.

Is There A Link To Kentucky Cold Cases?

In addition to the three rape charges in Ohio, Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders has asked Deters to test additional kits in Northern Kentucky, where Blankenship lived most of his life, to see if there are any possible matches. "Given the number of Ohio cases in which William Blankenship is a suspect, the amount of time the cases span, and his residence in Kentucky, it’s obviously logical to suspect he may have committed similar offenses in Kentucky," said Sanders. "I’ve asked the KSP Crime Lab to review unsolved sex offenses already in their database to see if any DNA matches Blankenship. I’ve also asked every police agency in Kenton County to review their cold rape cases to see if any have patterns or potential DNA evidence that could match Blankenship." Sanders also stated that Commonwealth Attorneys Michelle Snodgrass and Louis Kelly are doing the same with their law enforcement in Campbell and Boone counties.

"I know Blankenship was questioned in at least one of the unsolved cases. We don’t yet know how many cases he could be tied to in NKY," said Sanders. "The unsolved cases are still being reviewed. I appreciate Joe Deters reaching out to us across the river in hopes of bringing justice and closure to any victims here in NKY."

Sanders also said that if they find evidence to test for DNA, they will consult with Hamilton County. "They already have Blankenship’s DNA profile and they can get the testing completed much faster," said Sanders. "If we have to wait on the KSP Crime Lab to test the evidence, it could be a year to 18 months before we get results."

DNA Testing: "We Will Find You":

Blankenship's arrest was put into motion after DNA testing by Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco through a company called Parabon-Nanolabs linked his DNA to the crimes. Blankenship's DNA displayed a particular difference in the Y chromosome. When submitted, the DNA was linked to a relative...which then led Cincinnati Police to Blankenship.

Per Dr. Sammarco, the chances of the DNA being an incorrect match are 1 in 3 octillion. If you're wondering, in decimal form, what that number looks like, it goes a little something like this....3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. 

To save you time, we did the counting for you. That is 27 zeros!

"The bottom line is if you commit a crime, we will find  you," said Dr. Sammarco at the press conference, "It may not be today and it may not be next week. It may not even be this month but eventually, we'll find you...even if its 20 years from now."

As a result of the testing, Blankenship was arrested and is now indicted on 3 counts of burglary, 4 counts of rape, 2 counts of kidnapping, and 2 counts of gross sexual imposition. If convicted of all charges, Blankenship will face life in prison.

“When the good guys partner old-fashioned police work and innovative technology, the bad guys can’t escape justice – – nice win!" said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. "Hats off to Joe Deters for pushing the frontiers of justice outward.”

In Kentucky, Sanders is hopeful that this new technology is the missing link between 'not enough evidence' and cracking a cold case. "The cases being reviewed date back over 20 years. DNA testing has improved tremendously in that time. 20 years ago, some evidence may not have contained enough of a sample to be tested," said Sanders. "Through improvements in technology the DNA can now be extracted from much smaller samples. We’re hoping that when some cold cases are dusted off, we’ll find evidence that’s now useful when in the past it was not."

Two Decades of Charges:

In diving into his criminal history, you can see that Blankenship was no stranger to crime. Outlined below is a timeline of some of his charges in Northern Kentucky dating back to 2001... just after the rapes allegedly occurred. It is important to note that he may or may not have been convicted of all of these charges.

Blankenship's charges vary with everything from minor charges such as speeding to prostitution, drug charges and domestic violence.

March 30, 2001: 
Speeding, Operating a vehicle without insurance. Arrested by Dayton Police in Dayton, Ky.

Apr. 13, 2001:
Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol/drugs. Arrested by Campbell County.

Oct. 17, 2001:

DUI, driving on a suspended license. Arrested in Highland Heights. This charge happened just one week after he allegedly raped one of the victims.

Feb. 10, 2002:
DUI, driving on a suspended license. Arrested in Erlanger.

Jan. 30, 2003:
Possession of drugs, cultivating marijuana. Arrested in Kenton County.

Jun. 21, 2003: 
Possession of drugs, careless driving, operating a vehicle under the influence. Arrested in Highland Heights.

Sept. 10, 2012:
Domestic Assault. Arrested in Southgate.

Aug. 22, 2015: 
Prostitution. Arrested in Covington.

Apr. 15, 2018:
Domestic Violence. Arrested in Southgate.

Jan. 23, 2020:
Charged with 3 counts of burglary, 4 counts of rape, 2 counts of kidnapping, and 2 counts of gross sexual imposition. Arrested by the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force in Southgate. Currently being held at Campbell County Detention Center.

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