Crime & Courts

Recently paroled sex offender arrested in brutal attack on 7-year-old

Corbin James Breitenbach — the registered sex offender accused of raping, sodomizing and trying to murder a 7-year-old girl in a west Wichita apartment early Sunday — has a girlfriend who lives in a unit near the one where the attack occurred, according to the girlfriend and other neighbors.

In an Eagle interview late Friday afternoon, the girlfriend said she was in bed with Breitenbach shortly before the time that police say the attack happened: 2:40 a.m.

On Friday morning, police announced Breitenbach’s arrest and said the investigation remains “very, very active.”

The girl who is the victim is “doing well and is with her family,” Deputy Police Chief Gavin Seiler said.

“We are in contact with her and her family,” Seiler said. “Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Breitenbach, who had been in prison for another sex crime, was released on parole six weeks before the attack. Breitenbach, 23, lists a Derby address on the sex offender registry.

Breitenbach’s girlfriend, who asked not to be identified, said Breitenbach had visited her three times. “He was my boyfriend” but they had not been dating long, she said. He had been at a birthday party. “I brought him home. He’d had a little bit to drink.”

Breitenbach had been with her late Saturday night and into Sunday morning. “We were in bed asleep. We were in the house by 2:30 a.m. ... give or take a few minutes.”

The girlfriend said police questioned her Thursday night and searched her condo into Friday morning. She said they took “not very much.”

“Right now,” she said, “I’m just kind of numb. I don’t know what to believe.”

Another resident, Tonia Benoist, who lives in one of the condos near where the crime occurred, said she recognized Breitenbach’s picture after he had been arrested. She said she had seen him coming or going in the parking lot of the condos two to three times in the past two weeks.

The second-floor condo where the girl was attacked and the second-floor unit where Breitenbach’s girlfriend lives are across a small courtyard from each other. The two balconies are about 30 feet apart. The girl was spending the night with another child when the attack occurred.

As a younger person, Breitenbach spent time in foster care and had been planning to join the military before he was arrested in 2012 at age 18 on a rape charge, one of his relatives said Friday.

The relative, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said he hadn’t seen or spoken with Breitenbach since 2012 because of a rift in the family. Before his arrest, Breitenbach had been talking to a U.S. Marine recruiter, but that goal came to a halt after he was accused of raping, sodomizing and strangling a 22-year-old woman, the relative said.

The charges

The announcement of Breitenbach’s latest arrest came five days after police say someone entered an apartment in the 1400 block of North Smith Court without permission and attacked the 7-year-old in the middle of the night. The condos are near 13th and Zoo Boulevard, in west Wichita. A police report says there was no forced entry. According to a recording of emergency radio traffic, the girl had been spending the night there, and she began yelling that she had been attacked.

Deputy Chief Seiler told reporters during a news briefing Friday that a 23-year-old man — identified as Breitenbach on police and jail records — was arrested Thursday night at his place of his employment. The police report says the arrest was in the 200 block of North Seneca. Seiler said authorities were still interviewing him on Friday morning.

Breitenbach is being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, rape of a child under 13 and aggravated criminal sodomy, records show.

Suspect’s past

Breitenbach was on parole and was released from prison on April 28 — about six weeks before the attack. He had been serving a 68-month sentence after being convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of aggravated battery in the 2012 sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman.

Breitenbach’s relative said the family home was difficult at times during childhood and that Breitenbach and his siblings spent time in foster care. He and Breitenbach had been close as children, he said. But around age 17 — not long before the 2012 attack — “something changed in him. He snapped.”

“That’s when he went off on his own, started hanging out only with his group of friends,” the relative said. “I just never really saw him after that.” He added that after Breitenbach’s arrest in the 2012 attack, he found several pornographic images of drunk and unconscious women on Breitenbach’s cellphone.

The relative said he learned of Breitenbach’s arrest when an acquaintance sent him text messages Friday morning alerting him to it. The messages included a link to an online news article.

“It’s so surreal to see him on the news like that, people talking about him, using his name.”

The relative said that, looking back at the trouble Breitenbach has been in since 2012 and the new charges he might face, “I wish he would’ve just gone (into the Marines).”

“You know, maybe it wouldn’t have been such a good idea. I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “Maybe it would have saved him from these two incidents. I don’t know.”

While in the Lansing Correctional Facility, Breitenbach was frequently cited for behavioral problems, including disobeying orders, having dangerous contraband, insubordination, lying and fighting.

The 2012 assault

The fiance of the woman sexually battered and choked by Breitenbach in 2012 described the attack in an interview with The Eagle early Friday afternoon. He said he was at work when the assault happened. But when he came home, he found his then-girlfriend unconscious on a bed.

The fiance said when she came to, she couldn’t walk and started crying. The last thing she recalled, the fiance said, was Breitenbach coming up to her as she was looking for a cellphone, putting her in a choke hold and squeezing her neck until she passed out.

Breitenbach was jailed and charged in the case. In March 2013, he was convicted of three amended counts. Because he had no prior criminal convictions, the maximum sentence he could receive with those convictions was 68 months. A judge ordered that.

“Worked tirelessly”

Seiler, the deputy police chief, said police worked with the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center, the District Attorney’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the Exploited and Missing Child Unit and others on the case.

“This investigation has been very active and involved many of our partners,” Seiler said. “These detectives, they worked tirelessly through the night.”

He said the case would likely be presented to the District Attorney’s Office next week.

Contributing: Daniel Salazar and Matt Riedl

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

Related stories from Wichita Eagle