Authorities on Tuesday revealed new details in a sexual assault cold case that had gone unsolved until investigators used DNA evidence to identify a man accused of raping three women in Sacramento County.
Kabeh Cummings, 35, was recently arrested in New York City after investigators identified him as the suspect in the three sexual assaults, the first occurring in early 2010. Cummings was living in Sacramento, where he worked as a city employee, at the time of the sex assaults.
Police detectives brought Cummings back from New York and booked him Friday evening in the Sacramento County Main Jail, where he was being held without bail. He’s scheduled to appear for his arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho said prosecutors will formally charge Cummings with forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sodomy and kidnapping to commit rape. He said those charges, if convicted, could lead to a maximum sentence of more than 180 years to life in prison.
In this cold case, authorities used DNA evidence collected in each sexual assault was used to compare to DNA provided to a genealogical website. A similar method was used to find Joseph James DeAngelo, the former police officer identified as the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist, a serial killer and rapist who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“This would not have been possible but for the collaboration of a number of agencies and groups,” Ho told reporters Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it is always about the victims and the voices of victims that must be heard.”
Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said the first sexual assault occurred in February 2010, when a man grabbed the victim from behind as she walked home near the area of Franklin Boulevard and Calvine Road in Sacramento’s Valley Hi / North Laguna neighborhood. Lester said the man “put her in a headlock” and choked her.
The man then pulled the woman into some bushes and sexually assaulted her as he continued to choke her, Lester said. The man left after sexually assaulting the victim.
Lester said another suspect, who remains unknown, stole the woman’s purse. The woman made it home and reported the crimes to police.
The police chief said the second sexual assault occurred about a month later as another woman was walking home near the 2700 block of Florin Road, just east of 25th Street in Sacramento’s Meadowview neighborhood.
The woman in the March 2010 attack also was grabbed from behind and choked “in a headlock fashion,” before the man dragged the woman to a parking lot, Lester said. The man sexually assaulted the woman behind a building while she was unconscious before he left.
Lester said the victim then hailed a police officer and reported the sexual assault.
The attacks in Sacramento occurred Feb. 23, 2010, and March 20, 2010, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office declined to reveal the time of the reported sexual assaults.
Third attack happened three years later
The third sexual assault occurred more than three years later in an incorporated area of Sacramento County, near Watt Avenue and Auburn Boulevard, where the Del Paso Park neighborhood and Arden Arcade meet.
Sacramento County Assistant Sheriff LeeAnneDra Machese said the third sexual assault occurred about 4:20 a.m. Sept. 19, 2013. Machese said an unknown assailant grabbed the woman from behind and pointed a stun gun at her, “threatening her life and forced her to walk into a dark area.”
The assailant “violently sexually assaulted” the woman, and afterwards she sought help from a nearby business, the assistant sheriff said. DNA evidence was collected, but all leads were exhausted at that time without an arrest.
That sexual assault case went cold, as well.
DNA evidence in sexual assaults
Lester said the DNA evidence from both assaults within city limits was uploaded to the CODIS system — the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. The case remained unsolved for years.
“At that time, there were no hits in the system and the case went cold,” Lester said in the news conference. “However, we have now found that the DNA samples collected from each of these cases, as well as a case from the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, are from the same person.”
Starting in 2019, the investigations into the sexual assaults were reviewed. Lester said follow-up investigation was conducted by the Police Department’s cold case detectives, its sexual assault and child abuse unit and the District Attorney’s Office.
In November 2021, a sheriff’s detective investigating cold case sexual assault reports requested additional testing of evidence collected in the 2013 attack. On June 10, 2022, a full DNA profile was developed from this additional testing. The assistant sheriff said the DNA profile matched the Sheriff’s Office’s case and the two unsolved Police Department sexual assault cases.
The police chief said specialized DNA profile was used for investigative genetic genealogy, which led investigators to identify Cummings as the suspect after conducting extensive follow-up.
Identified suspect’s whereabouts unknown for months
But Cummings had since moved away from Sacramento, and his whereabouts were unknown. It’s unclear when Cummings moved to New York or whether he left in attempt to avoid authorities in Sacramento.
The district attorney declined to discuss those details because of the pending prosecution against Cummings.
“We are doing an extensive investigation and have done extensive investigation on this individual in terms of his background, his whereabouts and where he is lived in terms of his employment,” Ho said. “But we can’t discuss it at this time.”
According to Transparent California, a website that tracks government payroll data, Cummings worked for the city of Sacramento in several roles over the past decade, including as a human services program coordinator and a special program leader. A spokeswoman for the city confirmed Cummings was employed by the city between 2008 and 2014, but it was unclear if Cummings’ work gave him access to children.
“The suspect had lived in Sacramento at the time of the three rapes and matched the description provided by the victims,” Machese said at the news conference. “Working with our regional partners, the suspect was confirmed through further investigative techniques and arrested in New York City.”
Lester said the Police Department’s career criminal apprehension team led the effort to find Cummings. The FBI’s New York Field Office and the New York Police Department assisted local authorities in finding Cummings and taking him into custody.
No additional victims have been identified as of Tuesday. But authorities have shared Cummings’ photo and were asking anyone who also was a victim to come forward.
“I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone to be victimized in this manner and then also have to come forward,” the police chief told reporters. “So we’re hoping that by sharing what we know, sharing that he’s in custody, that if there are additional victims or if anyone has information about these crimes, they will contact us. And I can assure you that we’ll follow up and make sure that those tips are investigated just as thoroughly.”
Investigators asked anyone with relevant information in these sexual assault cases to call the tip line at 916-808-1773.