Bond Set for Alleged Greater Cincinnati Serial Rapist Linked to Cases by Ancestry Test

Investigators say that DNA provided to a genealogy company by a relative of William Blankenship created an alleged link between Blankenship and three unsolved rape cases from two decades ago

William Blankenship - Photo: Campbell County Jail
Photo: Campbell County Jail
William Blankenship

On Feb. 24, a Northern Kentucky judge set bond at $1.5 million for a man accused of raping three females in Mount Washington and Anderson Township in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

Fifty-five year-old William Blankenship's alleged link to those crimes — two of which involved a 10-year-old and 14-year-old girl — were established after one of his relatives sent in DNA for a genealogy test.

Authorities tested 20-year-old rape kits related to the case in 2018. They then reached out to genealogy companies — usually used by consumers to trace their ancestry — and asked if there were any matches with the Y chromosomes in the rape kits. A match between some of the genetic material and a relative of Blankenship's who used one of those services was enough to let investigators request a warrant to test Blankenship himself, leading to the match.

Blankenship was arrested Jan. 23.

Tracking Y chromosomes — which are passed down from parent to child and almost identical among close family — is a tool investigators have only recently started using. But Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said that he believes the test is accurate and that it is "impossible" that someone else committed the crimes.

Law enforcement officials on both sides of the Ohio River are combing through cold cases to see if there are further rapes to which Blankenship can be linked. Hamilton County Prosecutors have asked those who believe they may have been victimized by Blankenship to call 513-946-3000.

If convicted, Blankenship faces life in prison. He's fighting extradition to Hamilton County, where Deters is bringing the rape charges. His next court date is April 1. 

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