Police arrest man after Hoyt Arboretum attack

Police arrest man after Hoyt Arboretum attack »Play Video
Kenneth Wayne Couch

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland police officers arrested a man on Monday who they said attacked a woman as she walked on a trail at the Hoyt Arboretum a day earlier.

Michelle Dickson told police a man followed her from the parking lot and grabbed her while she walked in the arboretum around 11 on Sunday morning.

She was able to scream, fight back and get away.

Officers scoured the area after the attack. On Monday, park rangers got a tip from the Oregon Zoo's security manager about a man camping nearby.

The rangers identified him as a possible suspect and called police. Officers moved in and arrested 24-year-old Kenneth Wayne Couch, who they say was the attacker.

He was charged with robbery, strangulation and rape and taken to jail.

Lt. Robert King with the Portland Police Bureau said the rape charge stems from a separate incident in Gresham, although he didn't immediately have more details.

Police said Couch had been living in a tent near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which is near the end of the trail.

The attack happened near the memorial, not far from the Oregon Zoo parking lot.

Dickson said the man came up behind her, grabbed her neck and then tried to cover her mouth when she started screaming.

“I was just counting on the fact that people would hear and would come and that worked out,” she said.

Dickson said she has never screamed so loud in her life and didn’t even realize she was capable of it.

“People told me they thought I was an animal. They didn’t even think it was human,” she said. “They thought a chimp had gotten out of the zoo. It was just so high pitched; it was just sort of instinctive.”