Prosecutors on Friday charged a man with sexual assault in a decade-old knife-point kidnapping and rape based on DNA collected from the scene of the crime.
The only problem is, they don't yet know the suspect's name.
In what prosecutors are calling an unprecedented legal maneuver in Alaska, a state judge signed an arrest warrant charging the DNA profile of "John Doe" with felony rape, kidnapping and assault in the crime that involved a woman jumping from a moving vehicle to escape her attacker after being bound, gagged and raped.
"This is a case where we know who the perpetrator is by his DNA but not by name," said Deputy Attorney General Richard Svobodny. "We traditionally have used names, and this is just another way of identifying a person. It's actually substantially more accurate identifying a person than using a name."
Prosecutors said the charges were filed on Friday to beat the statute of limitations. Though there is none now, the statute of limitations on rape and kidnapping cases was 10 years at the time of the offense on Aug. 9, 2000.
If charges weren't filed by Monday, they never could be.
MAN IN A HURRY
On the night the woman was assaulted, an Anchorage police officer on patrol in Mountain View about 12:40 a.m. came across a two-toned blue and gray Chevy S-10 Blazer near a gas station at Mountain View Drive and Pine Street, according to an affidavit filed in court by APD detective Jean Dupuis, with the special victims unit.
"It drew his attention because the driver appeared to be in a hurry," Dupuis wrote.
The officer, however, did not witness any traffic violations and therefore didn't stop the vehicle, which was occupied by only a lone man, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.
Moments later, the officer saw a woman walking near the intersection wearing only a long-sleeved night shirt, with blood on her face and serious abrasions bleeding on her left leg and side, Dupuis wrote.
The woman at first told the officer she just wanted to go home and get cleaned up. But after a few minutes she said she had been kidnapped and driven to Ship Creek, where her attacker bound and gagged her and raped her at knife point, Dupuis wrote.
She described her rapist as a white man, between 30 and 40 years old with long hair pulled back in a ponytail. He had a moustache and was about 5 feet 10 inches tall with a medium build. He was driving a two-toned blue and gray SUV, she reported.
Police put out a locate order on the vehicle. But it was gone.
'FOLLOWING THE TRAIL'
The woman told police she had accepted a ride from her attacker from behind the Mountain View gas station. But instead of taking her to her friend's in Fairview, the man drove to an industrial area near Ship Creek and parked the SUV, saying he wanted to talk, according to Dupuis' affidavit.
The man moved closer and tried to take off her clothes. When she asked him what he was doing, the man told her to shut up and hit her on the head, Dupuis wrote.
The man then pulled a knife and assaulted her, police said. The attacker told her he would cut her throat if she ran and took a length of rope, tied her up and gagged her, according to Dupuis' affidavit. He choked her until she saw stars and went dizzy.
The man told her they were going somewhere about 15 minutes away, covered her with a jacket and headed east on Mountain View toward Boniface Parkway. The victim was afraid he would kill her and dump her body, so she managed to jump out at McCarrey Street, injuring her left side, according to Dupuis' affidavit.
Police searching that area found a rope with blood on it and the jacket she said had covered her. Officials also discovered sperm on the outside left leg of a pair of shorts the woman had been wearing that night.
Scientists at the state crime lab got a DNA profile from blood on the rope. Authorities have since tested the DNA of two possible suspects but they didn't match. The DNA was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, which can compare DNA from crime scenes to known offenders.
"The original profile that was obtained from the rope has been in CODIS, so we have not obtained a match on that person as of yet," said Sgt. Ken McCoy, supervisor of the special victims unit.
This May, an employee at the crime lab, Toni Otten, told police and prosecutors that the statute of limitations was nearing its end. Dupuis requested another round of DNA testing, which determined the samples from the rope and the victim's shorts could have come from the same man, he wrote.
McCoy said detectives are still working their own leads, though they're hopeful the DNA will get a hit in CODIS.
"This is a big step," McCoy said of the charges. "We know that we have evidence linking a perpetrator. Now we just have to attach a name to it. So we're going to keep following the trail."
Svobodny said he knows of similar legal steps taken in other states, including Michigan and California.
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.
By JAMES HALPIN
Alaska Dispatch Publishing