TACOMA - Suspected child killer Guy Matthew Rasmussen shook with his head bowed yesterday as prosecutors charged him with the kidnapping, rape and murder of 9-year-old Cynthia Allinger of Lakewood.
Rasmussen, a former neighbor of the girl and dubbed the "person of interest" in the Pierce County case since July, was arrested Friday after authorities obtained DNA test results they say linked him to the crime.
Authorities think Rasmussen was the last person to see the girl alive. Allinger disappeared July Fourth, and her body was found two weeks later, rolled in a carpet on a grassy lot near her home, off 49th Avenue Southwest near 123rd Street Southwest.
An autopsy revealed she was burned by cigarettes, hit with enough force to fracture her jaw, raped and then asphyxiated by gagging on her clothing.
During the brief hearing in a Pierce County courtroom, Rasmussen, 30, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, first-degree kidnapping and child rape. He is being held without bail.
"This is a very sad case," said Deputy Prosecutor Barbara Corey-Boulet. Prosecutors had not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Relatives and friends of the slain girl packed the courtroom, hoping to get a glimpse of the man accused of a crime that has terrorized their neighborhood in Lakewood. But as Rasmussen walked out of the courtroom, his face was shielded from photographers and TV camera crews by his defense attorney.
"I can't describe how angry I felt," said Rhonda Plank, the girl's mother. She said that the past few months have been difficult for her family but that they are relieved Rasmussen had been charged.
Plank thanked those who offered support, saying, "We appreciate your prayers, but we ask that you allow our privacy at this time."
Observers exchanged tearful hugs and offered sympathy to the girl's family while lashing out against the defendant.
"A lot of anger and pain came back," said Herman Westfal, a neighbor who organized prayer vigils after the girl disappeared.
Authorities had focused on Rasmussen immediately after the girl's disappearance. Rasmussen, who has a previous child-molestation record in Thurston County, was seen with Cynthia the day she disappeared, charging papers say.
When authorities contacted Rasmussen July Fourth in Thurston County, he made inconsistent statements about his acquaintance with the girl, according to court papers. He allegedly told some friends the girl had visited his home frequently to play with his son and his dog, while telling others he saw her only once.
Authorities say Rasmussen also failed a polygraph examination, in which he was asked the following questions: "On the afternoon of July 4, were you with Cynthia Allinger? If Cynthia Allinger is dead, did you take part in killing her? When witnesses identified you with Cynthia on July 4, were they wrong?"
Officials received DNA test results Friday from cutoff pants seized from Rasmussen's residence under a search warrant. Tissue analysis revealed DNA on the pants consistent with the dead girl's, charging papers say.