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Man charged with rape of 9-year-old Buckley girl to be arraigned today

For nearly 17 years, police could not pinpoint a suspect who brutalized a young Buckley girl. Now, Pierce County authorities believe they have their man.

County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist last week charged Donald Victor Schneider, 53, with first-degree rape and first-degree rape of a child. Both charges stem from the 1995 kidnapping and sexual assault of a 9-year-old

Schneider is already behind bars, serving a life sentence for other violent sex crimes.

“This is another example of our cold case team using DNA technology to get violent criminals off the streets and keep violent criminals off the streets,” Lindquist said in a prepared release.

The 1995 incident put area residents on edge, as parents in both the White River and Enumclaw school districts were notified of the incident.

It was a weekday morning in September 1995 when the Mountain Meadow Elementary School student was walking to a bus stop not far from her home near South Prairie. According to police and news reports at the time, a man stopped his car and asked the girl what time it was. After she replied "8:17," the man dragged her by her hair and forced her into his car.

According to the prosecutor's news release last week, the suspect told the youngster, “Get down and stay down or else I’ll cut your head open.” He then put a blanket over the victim and drove her to a wooded spot in the Alder Lake area, not far from the small town of Eatonville in south Pierce County. The victim was forced to undress, was bound with duct tape and then sexually assaulted. Before letting her go, the suspect reported warned, “Don’t tell or I’ll come back cuz I know where you live and I’ll kill your family and even you.”

According to Superior Court charging papers, the suspect first tied up the girl. He then untied her and told her to count to 100, get dressed and head for home.

“I’m a drunk old man and my brain needs help and I’m going to leave you here so someone can pick you up,” he reportedly said.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., the girl was walking along Alder Cutoff Road when a female motorist stopped to check on the child. After the girl related how she had been assaulted and dropped off in the woods, the woman took her to a Sheriff’s Department substation. From there, the girl was taken for medical treatment.

The victim’s clothing was collected at the hospital after the assault.

Years passed until May when a cold case detective sent the victim’s underpants to the Washington State Patrol crime lab. There, WSP experts matched genetic material left on the garment to the defendant’s DNA. The probability that the DNA does not match the defendant is estimated at one in 160 quadrillion, according to the prosecutor's office.

Schneider is a registered sex offender and was originally convicted of second-degree rape in 1982. In 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted him of kidnapping and raping a woman in Tacoma. He has been incarcerated at Walla Walla State Penitentiary – where he has no chance of being paroled – but was moved to the Pierce County jail to face the most recent charges. He was arraigned Thursday.

“While the defendant is currently serving a life sentence for a different crime, we are prosecuting him for two reasons," Lindquist said. "One, to obtain justice for this victim on this case, and two, so we have an insurance policy to keep a dangerous offender in prison where he belongs.”

According to the Pierce County Prosecutor's office arraigned on July 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 270 in the County City Building. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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