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Rape kit from 1994 leads to arrest in 43-year-old killing, authorities say

The El Dorado, California, District Attorney's Office said a recent test of the kit turned up a DNA match from a 1979 killing.

A rape kit from a 1994 alleged crime led to an arrest in a 43-year-old killing in California, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators believe Harold Carpenter, 63, killed Patricia Carnahan in 1979, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office in California said.

Carpenter was identified after a rape kit from an alleged 1994 sexual assault in Spokane, Washington, was recently tested and his DNA was found to have matched evidence collected from Carnahan’s body, the district attorney's office said.

Patricia Carnahan.
Patricia Carnahan.El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office

Her body was found at a Lake Tahoe campground on Sept. 28, 1979.

Her identity wasn’t learned until 2015, when the case was re-examined, according to the DA's office.

Her body was exhumed, and relatives recognized a pendant she wore and matched her DNA, according to the DA's office.

The rape kit from Spokane was tested as part of a nationwide effort to address the backlog in untested kits, the prosecutor's office said. When the sexual assault happened, it was deemed "unprovable," the office said, and the victim has since died.

Spokane police said that in 1994, Carpenter was arrested and booked on a second-degree rape charge, but the case was suspended and charges were never formally filed. The kit was submitted for testing last year, it said.

Harold Carpenter, 63.
Harold Carpenter, 63.El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office

Carpenter was arrested Monday at his apartment in downtown Spokane, police there said.

He is being held in Spokane County as a fugitive, according to online jail records. He faces a murder charge in California, according to the DA's office.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday night whether Carpenter had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.