A former dog race musher has been found guilty of a 2001 cold case rape and kidnapping of a woman who escaped him by jumping from a moving vehicle.
Carmen Perzechino, 59, a former Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher, was found guilty by a jury on Wednesday at a Kenai courthouse for the 20 January 2001 rape and kidnapping of Anna Sattler, who was 30 years old at the time of the crime.
Sattler, who grew up in the native Yup’ik communities of Western Alaska, said she had an argument with her friends on the night of the incident when Perzechino offered her a lift home.
She said he parked along a stretch of highway on the Kenai Peninsula and raped her, chasing after her each time she tried to break free and run through the woods.
Carmen Perzechino was found guilt of rape and kidnapping in cold case from 2001 on Wednesday. In the Zoom proceeding screenshot are, from upper left, Superior Court Judge Jennifer Wells, defendant Carmen Perzechino, defense attorney Andy Pevehouse. Lower left, investigator Mike Burkmire and prosecutor Jenna Gruenstein
Sattler told Anchorage Daily News that after the rape, Perzechino began to ask her whether anyone would miss her, and fearing for her life she jumped out of the moving vehicle.
The victim told a state trooper what had happened and she completed a rape test kit, but the case went cold in 2002.
In 2018, the state processed hundreds of previously untested rape kits, and the DNA collected from Sattler matched a swab Perzechino had given police in 2012 when he was charged for soliciting a prostitute.
According to ProPublica, Perzechino was contacted by state police in January 2019 to answer questions about the rape and two weeks later, he booked a round-trip ticket to the Philippines and skipped the return flight.
In April last year, Filipino officials tracked Perzechino down in Angeles City, Pampanga, arresting him at the request of the US Embassy.
‘People like him are not welcome in our country. If he did that in the U.S., then there is a possibility that he might commit the same crime in the Philippines,’ Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente of the Philippines said at the time.
Perzechino before competing in the 2004 Iditarod competition
‘Criminals like him ought to be barred from ever setting foot in our country.’
Troopers said he was extradited back to the US in August last year.
In court on Wednesday, the jury listened to a recording of an investigator asking Perzechino about the night of the rape.
The former dog musher said he didn’t remember anyone jumping out of his car and that the only person he’d had sex with around the time of the assault was his wife.
A second Alaska native woman, who said she was a victim of Perzechino’s in 2016, was called to testify against him in court.
The woman, who has not waived her right to anonymity, said she was assaulted in a similar manner along the Sterling Highway four years ago.
She said Perzechino offered her the opportunity to come spend a few days helping him and his girlfriend around the house.
Pictured: Dogs racing during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Rave in the 1990s
She got in the car and Perzechino pulled over and sexually assaulted her on the journey.
Perzechino’s ex-wife also testified against him, saying that on the night in question, he told her a woman had jumped out of his car but he did not tell her about the sexual assault.
In 2004, Perzechino ran the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the annual long-distance race from Anchorage to Nome. The defense asked the jury to consider why a rapist would subject himself to the statewide spotlight of the competition.
At the end of the trial, Sattler said: ‘This has haunted me for almost 20 years.
‘Finally justice has caught up with him. I hope I can now put this behind me and move on with my life.’