California prosecutors said Monday that they used an unusual tactic to identify a suspect for three rapes committed more than 25 years ago, keeping the case alive long after the normal legal deadline would have expired.
Investigators tucked away rape kit samples from the attacks between 1992 and 1994 in the Sacramento and Davis areas in hopes that the budding science would one day lead to a match.
Sacramento County prosecutors never identified a suspect at the time but filed an arrest warrant against the anonymous snippet of DNA code in 2000, just two days before the statute of limitations was to run out.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Law enforcement officials said they finally linked the "John Doe DNA" to 59-year-old Mark Manteuffel. The former Federal Bureau of Prisons employee, who once studied and lectured part-time at Sacramento State University, was arrested by FBI agents Friday in Decatur, Georgia, and will be returned to California to stand trial. It was unclear if he had a defense attorney.
District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said it was the first time in California that DNA was charged with a crime, though it had been done elsewhere and produced results much more quickly in other cases. The California Supreme Court upheld the practice in 2010 in an unrelated Sacramento County case.
"When he is brought to Sacramento, his true name will be added to that complaint," she said of Manteuffel. "We have put a face to that DNA profile and today, a quarter of a century later, the silent witness has spoken."
She said Manteuffel was linked through family DNA, similar to the way charges were brought against the alleged Golden State Killer last year.
Joseph DeAngelo, a 73-year-old former police officer, is awaiting trial on allegations that he broke into dozens of homes across California in the 1970s and 1980s, raping and often killing. Police said they identified a possible third cousin through a popular online DNA database, then linked DeAngelo from DNA recovered from his car door and a discarded tissue.
Schubert called the use of investigative genetic genealogy "the latest and perhaps the greatest advancement to help law enforcement find the truth and solve violent crime," adding later that "the tools are there. We're going to use them."
Officials wouldn't say which public DNA database was used to link Manteuffel or the proximity of the family relationship. But Sean Ragan, who heads the Sacramento FBI office, said fellow agents in Georgia shadowed Manteuffel and recovered a DNA sample from a restaurant that matched samples from the crime scenes.
He faces seven charges in two Sacramento rapes where the suspect broke into homes and tortured the victims with a knife, Schubert said.
Jeff Reisig, the district attorney in neighboring Yolo County, said charges there will be unsealed alleging that Manteuffel was the masked man who used a stun gun to abduct a 22-year-old University of California, Davis student while she was jogging.
"Predators and monsters can't hide forever any longer" because of the advances in DNA tracking, he said. "The clock is ticking on these criminals and their time is up."