PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A day after Vancouver authorities broke the news that an arrest had been made in a 25-year-old cold case, the suspect appeared in court for the first time.
Richard E. Knapp was in court on Wednesday morning. However, his defense attorney asked for the hearing to be postponed to later in the day. He argued that his client shouldn’t have to appear in shackles during pre-trial hearings to avoid tainting public opinion and a potential jury pool. The judge granted the request to allow Knapp to be free of handcuffs in court on Wednesday and during future hearings.
Knapp is accused of raping and strangling Audrey Hoellein Faiser at her Vancouver apartment in July 1994.
Detectives said they tied Knapp to the murder through a cigarette butt found at the scene of the crime. They said DNA from that cigarette butt was sent to a specialized lab that then used public genealogy databases to find genetic relatives.
This same DNA technology was used to bring the Golden State Killer to justice.
Vancouver police officers arrested Knapp on Monday during a traffic stop. Detectives said they’d watched him for weeks leading up to the arrest and collected a fresh cigarette butt he tossed in order to confirm the DNA link to the 1994 crime.
The 57-year-old resident of Fairview was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a 1st-degree murder charge. He’s since been extradited to Clark County and was under a suicide watch on Wednesday.
Knapp was 32 at the time of the crime.
In 1986, Knapp was convicted of 3rd-degree rape in Washington state and was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Documents reveal he only spent 60 days behind bars and was ordered to undergo an alcohol treatment program. However, he violated that agreement, went back into treatment and his sentence was completed in December 1987.
Marty Hoellein, Audrey Hoellein’s brother, said his sister was a kind person and a loving mother to her 5-year-old son. He said if he could ask Knapp one question, he would ask him why his sister was targeted.
“Why my sister?” he said. “And then, how could you live with yourself knowing you did this?”
Marty said he hopes some closure can finally come in the case and justice can be served for his sister.
Knapp is due back in court on May 24. His bail has been set at $1 million.