Centralia rape suspect arrested after 17-year state crime lab delay 


A man was arrested Tuesday for allegedly raping a woman in Centralia in 2006 after DNA test results from the Washington State Crime Lab identified him as the suspect 17 years after the rape was reported. 

The woman reported the rape to the Centralia Police Department shortly after it occurred in on June 24, 2006, according to court documents filed in Lewis County Superior Court on Oct. 5. 

At the time, the woman reported she was outside her apartment smoking when an unidentified male subject “came out from behind the shed several feet away,” “forced (her) back into her residence” and raped her, according to court documents. 

She said she “resisted and made it hard for the male to rape her” and eventually he “got frustrated and left out the front door.” 

The woman said the male had been “hanging out around her apartment over the past couple of weeks” before the rape and had attempted to speak with her previously, but “she blew him off,” according to court documents. One week before the rape, the male reportedly “tapped on the glass of her rear door,” which prompted the woman to call a relative for help. The relative reportedly told the male to leave the woman alone, and the woman said she didn’t see the male again until the rape. 

A rape kit was sent to Washington State Patrol’s crime lab when the rape was reported in 2006, according to court documents. 

The Centralia Police Department did not receive the crime lab report back from the Washington State Patrol until Sept. 5, 2023, 17 years after the department sent the rape kit to the crime lab,  according to court documents. 

The test results reportedly indicated the male DNA profile from the rape kit matched an entry in the National Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database for a suspect identified as Pablo Adiel Munoz Hernandez, 50, of Centralia. He is also known as Pablo Munoz, according to court documents. 

Munoz Hernandez’s DNA was in the system due to a drug-related case that has been dismissed, according to court documents. 

When shown a current photograph of Munoz Hernandez and asked if she recognized him, the woman “said she did not. After all, it had been 17 years,” according to court documents. 

At the time of the rape, the woman described the suspect as a Hispanic male in his 40s. 

The Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Munoz Hernandez with one count of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion on Oct. 4. Lewis County Superior Court issued a $100,000 warrant for Munoz Hernandez’s arrest on Oct. 5. 

Munoz Hernandez was arrested on that warrant and was booked into the Lewis county Jail just after 2:20 a.m. on Oct. 31 according to jail records. 

Judge James Lawler ruled to uphold that bail amount on Tuesday. 

Arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9. 

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office announced Oct. 26 that the last of of over 10,000 backlogged sexual assault kits from between 2002 and 2015 had finally been tested or sent to a private lab for testing. 

As of the Oct. 26 news release, the testing had resulted in more than 2,100 matches in CODIS and had helped solve at least 21 sexual assault cases, a number the state Attorney General’s Office said was “not exhaustive and will grow over time.”