Suspect linked to Gresham rape & hiker attack

Suspect linked to Gresham rape & hiker attack

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 1 at 9:16 AM

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PORTLAND -- Police believe the man who they arrested on Monday for allegedly attacking a female hiker in Washington Park is the same person who raped a woman in Gresham one month earlier.

Kenneth Couch, 24, was captured after park rangers alerted police about a suspicious man living in a tent near the Hoyt Arboretum Monday.  They said he matched the description of the man who attacked Michelle Dickson Sunday as she hiked along Wildwood Trail.

Then, investigators also found links to a rape that occurred in Gresham on June 24, according to court documents obtained by KGW.

Couch appeared in court Tuesday. He was charged with rape and two counts of strangulation in the June 24 incident. He was also charged with robbery and strangulation in the July 29 attack on Dickson. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Dickson said a man came up from behind her and wrapped his hands around her neck just before noon Sunday.  

"He sped up behind me and he accosted me by grabbing me from behind and a neck hold he said 'Ma'am you need to--' and I didn’t hear anything after that because I started screaming," Dickson said.

She said he held onto her for a moment, but ran away when she kept screaming.  Other hikers came to help her, but the man was already gone.

"Within 10 seconds people came, people had cell phones out people were very supportive and concerned obviously," Dickson said.

Couch was living in the park, in a tent set up in a heavily treed area, according to investigators.

The head of security for the Oregon Zoo noticed the tent Monday morning and alerted park rangers.  The rangers said they quickly realized that Couch, who was living in the tent, matched the description of Dickson's attacker and alerted police.

KGW looked up Couch's criminal record and also found one possession of marijuana charge from earlier this month, but no other previous arrests.

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