An inmate at the El Dorado Correctional Facility who faced rape charges in McPherson County was found dead in his cell Wednesday, according to Kansas Department of Corrections medical staff.
Douglas Belt was a truck driver known as the I-70 Rapist who in 1989 began attacking women in Kansas communities that dot the interstate. His case gained notoriety in 1991 when McPherson County became the first in the nation to charge the DNA of a person with a crime without having the actual name of the person itself.
At the time, McPherson County Attorney Ty Kaufman was attempting to file charges for the crimes within the statute of limitations, which for rape cases was then two years. The statute has since been extended to five years.
Additional so-called “John Doe” warrants soon followed McPherson County's when DNA tests indicated the same person was responsible for crimes in neighboring Saline and Reno counties as well as in Thomas County in western Kansas.
Douglas Belt was not identified as the rapist in these John Doe cases until 2003, after he was arrested and convicted for raping and murdering a Wichita woman. In 2004, Belt was sentenced to death by a Sedgwick County court.