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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

‘Serial rape crew’ arrested, linked to sexual assaults in Inland Empire by DNA: Police

Two San Bernardino men described by authorities as a “serial rape crew” were taken into custody in connection with multiple sexual assaults that occurred in the Inland Empire over the past few years, police announced Friday.

Investigators from multiple agencies worked together to apprehend 42-year-old Kenneth Watson and 23-year-old Barnard Saddler, using DNA evidence to link both men to various crimes, according to a joint agency news release.

The rapes occurred in Ontario, San Bernardino and Riverside and were investigated by each city’s Police Department and other agencies. Watson has also been linked to a sexual assault in Portland, Oregon, authorities said.

“Watson and Saddler are currently no longer a threat to the community,” police stated in a news release.

In 2019, the San Bernardino Police Department investigated the sexual assault of a woman in the area of North G and West Night streets. The woman was walking when she was approached by both suspects, according to San Bernardino Sgt. John Echevarria.

She “was grabbed, forced into a vehicle and forcibly raped,” the sergeant said.

In another case from February 2020, a woman was “violently sexually assaulted” by one of the suspects, according to a Riverside Police Department news release.

She had been approached by Watson while walking in the 1700 block of University Avenue and he convinced her to get into his vehicle, where the assault took place, authorities said. The victim had to be hospitalized.

In October 2020, the Ontario Police Department investigated a case where a woman was sexually assaulted by two men after being kidnapped and driven to a remote location, according to detectives.

DNA evidence ultimately linked Watson to all three cases and Saddler to the San Bernardino and Ontario assaults, officials said.

Additionally, San Bernardino detectives used biological material to match both men to other unsolved sex crimes, including one from March 2019. Individually, DNA was used to link Watson to an October 2018 rape and Saddler to a January 2019 rape, according to Echevarria.

Watson has also been identified as a suspect for a sexual assault case in Portland.

He was arrested last month in Jurupa Valley by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of various crimes and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center, police said. He’s being held on $1 million bail.

Saddler was arrested in Las Vegas an is awaiting extradition back to Southern California, Ontario Officer Eliseo Guerrero said.

Charges have already been filed by the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, according to spokesperson Grace Underwood.

Both face criminal charges including “kidnapping, sexual penetration by force, forcible oral copulation, robbery, criminal threats, forcible rape and the added enhancement of street terrorism,” she said.

The DA’s office is aware of other cases involving the the two men and will review those once they are submitted, Underwood added.

Anyone with information about cases involving either suspect is asked to contact their local law enforcement. Additionally, reports and tips can be made anonymously through the We-Tip Hotline by calling 800-782-7463 or visiting the website http://wetip.com.

And police say people can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or go to http://rainn.org.

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