News

Sequim man arrested in trail attack

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

Detectives with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Sequim man Sept. 5 in connection with a July attack on a young woman bicycling on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

 

He also is charged in a 2011 voyeurism case involving a sleeping 17-year-old girl.

 

Sheriff Bill Benedict said detectives executed a search warrant at the home of Spencer J. Silva, 22, in Sequim and arrested him on suspicion of second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment.

 

On July 21, a 22-year-old woman reported she was riding her bicycle eastbound as she approached a man wearing a hoodie walking with his back to her. When she told him she was passing to his left, he stepped to the left. When she announced she was passing to his right, he stepped right, Detective Sgt. Lyman Moores said in the days following the attack. As she passed the man he turned and grabbed her, knocking her and her bicycle to the ground.

 

The suspect, wearing a red, white and black Halloween mask, jumped on her and held her arms to her side as she kicked and “screamed bloody murder,” Moores said.

 

The attacker gave up and fled as neighbors ran out of their homes to help the woman after hearing her screams. A knife with a long blade and unique handle was found nearby.

Suspect investigated

Benedict said during the investigation Silva was identified as a suspect in part due to information provided to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau by patrol deputies and citizens of Clallam County. A specific report provided by Deputy Brian Knutson and home surveillance video provided by a member of the community were of significance in helping to solve this crime, he said.

 

Knutson remembered Silva from an Aug. 26 incident in which a girl in the Carlsborg area reported her window screen was removed, her window open and her blinds fully raised before she woke up at 1:52 a.m. and saw a man staring through the window at her. Deputies believed the suspect had reached into her bedroom during the incident, Sheriff’s Sgt. John Hollis said in a news release.

 

Silva was arrested nearby while in his car and deputies matched his size 13½ shoe to a print found near the girl’s home, deputies said. Charges were not filed at that time and Silva was released from custody.

 

Knutson believed Silva could be a suspect in the trail attack because he matched the description of the assailant and had a past pattern of behavior, Detective Tom Reyes said in a certification for probable cause.

Video, DNA evidence

The woman attacked on the trail provided a vehicle description that was found to match Silva’s car, which was the same one he was driving when arrested on suspicion of voyeurism, according to court documents.

 

Surveillance video from a home near the assault scene, enhanced by the Federal Bureau of Investigations Video Enhancement Section, showed the suspect vehicle to be similar to Silva’s.

 

Benedict said the efforts of the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory DNA Section and the FBI Section were instrumental in helping to bring about a swift confirmation of the investigation findings, he said.

 

In his report, Reyes said DNA evidence collected from the knife at the scene of the attack matched DNA collected from a spork Silva used while in jail on investigation of violating a protection order Aug. 16.

Family interviewed

Following Silva’s arrest Sept. 5, detectives interviewed the uncle with whom he lived as well as his parents.

 

Detectives said Silva’s uncle recognized the knife as one owned by Silva that he kept on a shelf but hadn’t seen in a little over a month. Silva’s parents told detectives Silva admitted to them he committed the voyeurism in August 2011 and did it because “he just wanted to hear her breathing,” detectives report.

 

Additionally, Silva’s mother showed detectives a photo of her son wearing a mask for Halloween in 2009 that is similar to the description of the mask worn during the Olympic Discovery Trail attack, according to court documents.

Charges filed

Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly filed four charges against Silva on Sept. 6 in both the trail attack and voyeurism cases. He is charged with assault in the second degree with a deadly weapon and intent to commit a felony with sexual motivation, unlawful imprisonment, residential burglary and voyeurism.

 

Silva will be arraigned Sept. 14 and remains in custody at the Clallam County jail in lieu of $300,000 bond.

 

“Crimes like this have a significant impact on our community,” Benedict said in a news release. “All of us enjoy the many opportunities we have to recreate outdoors. The Discovery Trail is a valuable and important community asset and we take criminal activity on it very seriously; when acts like this occur it takes away from our feeling of safety while doing so. The Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement are committed to the safety of our community and will use all resources available to identify, locate and arrest person(s) responsible for criminal acts such as this.”

 

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

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