DNA, genealogy used to solve cold case rapes, homicide in Rockville

Montgomery County police have identified a suspect in two cold case rapes and a homicide that happened in Rockville, Maryland, in 1989 and 1994.

The suspect, Kenneth Earl Day, died in March 2017 in West Virginia, at 52 years old.

Investigators collected DNA during the initial investigations but no matches were found in the national DNA database.

The first case was a rape that happened on June 25, 1989 at around 10:15 p.m. The victim, who was 52 at the time, was walking on Lewis Avenue when police said Day approached her from behind, assaulted her and raped her.

A Snapshot composite depiciting how the suspect in these cases may have looked based on DNA evidence left at the crime. To the left is a composite of how the suspect would have looked at 25, and to the right how he would have looked at 45. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police Department)
A snapshot composite released by Montgomery County police in 2018 depicted how the suspect in the cases may have looked based on DNA evidence left at the crime scene. To the left is a composite of how Kenneth Earl Day would have looked at 25, and to the right is how he would have looked at 45. (Courtesy Montgomery County police) (Courtesy Montgomery County Police)
Kenneth Earl Day in 1989 at age 24 was identified as the suspect in two rapes and a homicide that occurred in 1989 and 1994. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Day in 1989 at 24 years old. (Courtesy Montgomery County police) (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Kenneth Earl Day in 1994, at 29 years old. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Day in 1994 at 29 years old. Day was identified as the suspect in a rape and homicide that occurred in 1994. Investigators found DNA during the initial investigation, but the trail stopped when no matches were found in the national DNA database. (Courtesy Montgomery County police) (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Kenneth Earl Day in 2005, at 40 years old. Police used DNA found at crime scenes in 1989 and 1994 to determine the suspect's physical appearance and genealogy. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Day in 2005 at 40 years old. Day was identified as the suspect in two rapes and a homicide that occurred in 1989 and 1994 using DNA left at the scenes to determine his physical appearance and genealogy. (Courtesy Montgomery County police) (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
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A Snapshot composite depiciting how the suspect in these cases may have looked based on DNA evidence left at the crime. To the left is a composite of how the suspect would have looked at 25, and to the right how he would have looked at 45. (Courtesy Montgomery County Police Department)
Kenneth Earl Day in 1989 at age 24 was identified as the suspect in two rapes and a homicide that occurred in 1989 and 1994. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Kenneth Earl Day in 1994, at 29 years old. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)
Kenneth Earl Day in 2005, at 40 years old. Police used DNA found at crime scenes in 1989 and 1994 to determine the suspect's physical appearance and genealogy. (Courtesy Montgomery County police)

The second case was a rape and homicide. On Oct. 3, 1994, Le Bich-Thuy was found dead next to her house in the 1600 block of Martha Terrace. Police said she had been assaulted, raped and strangled. The last time she had been seen alive was Sept. 28, as she left Twinbrook Metro station.

Investigators at the time determined that the DNA found in both cases belonged to one suspect but were unable to find out who without matches in the national database.

In 2017, cold case detectives sought the help of a DNA technology company in Virginia that specializes in DNA phenotyping — predicting a person’s physical appearance and ancestry from DNA. The company, Parabon NanoLabs, created a composite showing how the suspect looked based on his DNA.

Detectives then sought help from the public in identifying the man.

Parabon submitted a genetic data profile to a publicly available genealogy database, GEDmatch, in an attempt to find relatives of the suspect.

Additional investigation led to detectives identifying Day as the suspect in both cases. The DNA left in both cases matched DNA samples taken from Day’s autopsy.

Cold case detectives are investigating other crimes that Day may have committed.

Below is a list of prior addresses for Day and the dates that he lived there:

  • 1989: 500 block of Beall Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, 20850
  • 1988: 100 block of Willowdale Drive, Frederick, Maryland, 21702
  • 1990-1991: 20000 block of Frederick Road, Germantown, Maryland, 20876
  • 1990: Unit block of Whetstone Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20877
  • 1992: 11700 block of Zebrawood Court, Germantown Maryland, 20876
  • 1993-1994: 12300 block of Selfridge Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20906
  • 1994: 2000 block of Baltimore Road, Rockville, Maryland, 20851
  • 1997-1999: 14400 block of Belvedere Drive, Woodbridge, Virginia, 22193
  • 2002-2004: 11800 block of Renner Road, Keymar, Maryland, 21757
  • Late 2000s: 10300 block of Mumma Ford Road, Rocky Ridge, Maryland, 21778
  • Late 2000s: Unit block of Heavner Grove Road, Buchannon, West Virginia, 26201

Anyone with information is urged to call cold case detectives with Montgomery County police at 240-773-5070.

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