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Television coverage could complicate serial rape case

In the wake of the police shooting and arrest of a suspected serial rapist in Federal Way last week, the King County Sheriff Department is looking into who leaked a booking photo of the suspect from an earlier arrest to a Seattle television station.

Investigators released Anthony Casper Dias’ photo to print and television reporters last Thursday night, but KING-TV channel 5 aired the photograph during a news broadcast earlier in the week.

Releasing the photo to the news media is against Sheriff Department policy and state law, unless it is for a “police reason” such as searching for a suspect or trying to get more victims to come forward, said Sgt. John Urquhart, a department spokesman.

Plus, investigators worried that having Dias’ photo out in public would taint their investigation, including efforts at having victims identify him from a photo montage.

Nine people from three agencies are being investigated to determine who let out the booking photo, Urquhart said. Four of the people being investigated are civilians in the Sheriff Department. Two other people are from the Seattle Police Department, and three are employed in the county jail. The agencies’ own investigators will talk to their people, Urquhart said.

The television station wouldn’t be asked to reveal its source, and typically media organizations are reluctant to do so.

KING 5 news director Pat Costello had no comment Monday.

If someone is found to have released the booking photograph without authorization, they could face a misdemeanor charge or disciplinary action from their employer. Urquhart doubted an employee would lose their job over the matter.

Investigators in Tacoma, Des Moines and King and Pierce counties are working to determine if Dias was the suspect in home invasions and rapes in their communities.

The victims gave similar accounts of how the suspect would hold the residents of the apartment or house at gunpoint, bind them and sexually assault some or all of the women over several hours.

Meanwhile, Dias, the man charged with two counts of first-degree rape after being caught Nov. 8 in Federal Way, is in the Pierce County Jail because one of his alleged victims is related to a uniformed employee at King County’s jail.

Maj. William Hayes of the King County Department of Juvenile and Adult Detention wouldn’t name the employee or give other information, other than the person has been a county employee for about 30 years.

“We’re trying to protect the family,” Hayes said.

Dias, 26, was released from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle last week after being charged by King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng on two counts of first-degree rape, burglary in the first degree, assault in the second degree and unlawful imprisonment. He was also charged with using a handgun during the attack.

He was booked into Pierce County’s jail on Saturday. A jail employee said Dias was in solitary confinement because of the charges against him.

He is expected to be arraigned next Wednesday at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Late Nov. 7, Dias allegedly broke into a second-floor residence at The Heights on West Campus apartments in Federal Way. Over the next several hours, he repeatedly raped two girls –– 13 and 15 years old –– while holding them and their mother captive at gunpoint, according to authorities. The 45-year-old mother was tied up for most of the attack but wasn’t raped.

It’s alleged that Dias asked the victims for money and searched the apartment. When he fell asleep after taking drugs, the three victims escaped and called police early Tuesday morning.

At about 7:15 a.m., Dias tried to flee the scene after officers ordered him to drop his handgun and surrender. He was shot by a Federal Way Police officer in a wooded area about 100 yards from the apartment building.

Dias spent the rest of the week being treated at Harborview for a gunshot wound to the elbow.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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