Richland maintenance worker arrested in rape case

RICHLAND -- A maintenance worker has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree rape in an almost year-old case in which a Richland woman was attacked in her apartment.

Cody Joseph Kloepper, 32, of Richland, worked at The Villas Apartments on Gage Boulevard when the woman was attacked Dec. 5.

Earlier, another Richland man had been arrested, but charges against him were dismissed in July because DNA from the crime scene was not a match. The victim had identified him from among a group of 23 photos she was shown in a Spokane hospital the day she was attacked.

Kloepper also was in the photos but had cut his hair in a crewcut, and the woman was looking for a man with long hair, according to the Benton County Court motion for Kloepper's arrest.

About 4 a.m. Dec. 5, the victim heard someone in her apartment even though she believed she had locked her door. She saw someone come up behind her in the kitchen before she was hit on the head with a bar and sexually assaulted.

The attacker put a blanket over her head and told her he would kill her if she identified him, she told police.

She was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and then Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane with injuries to her head and face, a broken right arm and a broken left wrist.

In the ambulance on the way to Kadlec, she said her attacker looked like one of The Villas' maintenance workers, according to the court document. She described the attacker to police as thin, about 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall and with shaggy brown hair.

Five days later, in an interview with police, she said she thought at first her attacker was "Cody," because of his height but then thought it was not, according to the court document.

Kloepper would have had keys to her apartment and admitted staying overnight in an empty unit the night the woman was attacked, according to the court document. He was seen by a coworker leaving the apartment complex on the morning of Dec. 5 and had long hair, but Kloepper had a crew cut when police contacted him about 3:45 p.m. that day, according to documents.

Kloepper told police he had been drinking with a friend the evening before in Kennewick and had stayed in the vacant apartment rather than drive home under the influence of alcohol, according to the court document.

However, a check of his computer and cell phone records showed he went home after drinking with his friend, according to the court document.

His live-in girlfriend said he came home, and then left again around midnight.

Police believe Kloepper met a man through a Craigs List, posting for a sexual encounter between midnight and 1 a.m. but was rebuffed because he was intoxicated, according to the court document.

Among items in the case that police collected as evidence was the tip of a rubber glove found near a pool of blood in the victim's apartment. It had male DNA, which did not match the original suspect in the case, but Kloepper's DNA could not be excluded as a match, according to the court document.

Kloepper said he never used similar gloves kept in a storage shed at The Villas Apartments, according to the court document. He also said he had not been in the apartment where the woman was attacked for months.

He is being held in the Benton County jail on $250,000 bail.