POULSBO — A Poulsbo police detective’s work has led to the arrest of a male suspect in a 1987 rape.
Eight agencies were involved in the apprehension of Ronald Lee Paulson, who is now about 70 and goes by the name Warron Big Eagle: Poulsbo Police Department; Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office; Kitsap County Special Assault Unit; Port Orchard Police Department; Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office; Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, Sheriff’s Office; Great Falls, Montana, Sheriff’s Office; and Kern County, California, Sheriff’s Office.
The message to suspects on the lam: “You’re going to spend your whole life looking behind you,” Poulsbo Deputy Police Chief Andy Pate said May 26. “At some point, [officers] are going to catch up to you.”
In 1987, the Poulsbo Police Department investigated the report of a rape which had allegedly occurred in Poulsbo. At that time, Poulsbo police detectives investigatedthe allegations and identified the suspect in the rape case as Ronald Lee Paulson, born in 1946, Pate reported.
During the investigation conducted in 1987, Paulson left Washington and a warrant for his arrest was obtained.
In 1990, Paulson was arrested and detained in Kern County, California, and subsequentlyreturned to Washington to stand trial for the alleged rape. After being returned toWashington, Paulson posted bond and was released from jail pending trial, which was set for December 1990. He was facing charges of five counts of first-degree rape and two counts of indecent liberties.
Pate, who joined the Poulsbo Police Department in 1993, said he didn’t know if there was one victim or more, noting that the case file consisted of 300 pages of documents.
In December 1990, Paulson failed to appear for trial and another warrant for his arrest was issued. It is believed Paulson left Washington at some point prior to his trial.
This month, the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office contacted the Poulsbo Police Department and advised there was still an active warrant for Paulson’s arrest. Shurick enlisted the assistance of detectives from several other agencies in the area as well as information from other agencies outside of Washington who had arrest information regarding Paulson.
“Using various forms of information and social media websites, a link was found to a person identifying himself as Warron Big Eagle in Pottawatomie County,” Pate reported. “Other investigative means were used to confirm the identity of Big Eagle and to verify his real name as that of Paulson, the individual wanted in this case.”
Shurick contacted the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and requested their assistance in apprehending Paulson. Pottawatomie authorities were able to locate Paulson with information provided, confirmed Paulson’s identity with a fingerprint match, and arrested him at his home.
Paulson was being held May 24 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Poulsbo police are awaiting completion of the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s investigation and an extradition hearing to have Paulson transported to the Kitsap County Jail where he will await trial.
The next challenge: finding the alleged victim or victims and witnesses. “That’s going to be another job within itself. They’re not in the local area anymore,” Pate said.
Pate said the department will soon begin work on another major cold case — a homicide from the mid-1980s. “This year, we plan on adding another detective. That’s going to really help us out,” he said.
The Poulsbo Police Department currently consists of 21 employees: the public safety director, deputy police chief, 12 police officers, three sergeants, one detective, and three police clerks.
Video: Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth walks rape suspect Warron Big Eagle/Ronald Lee Paulson out of the Pottawatomie County Courthouse to be held awaiting extradition to Kitsap County to face prosecution for an alleged 1987 rape in Poulsbo.