Pinellas Deputies Make Arrest in 31-Year-Old Rape Case
Fingerprints and DNA were used to identify the suspect who was arrested in Mississippi, deputies said.
PINELLAS COUNTY – Detectives from the cold case unit used fingerprints and DNA to identify a suspect in a 1987 rape case, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Russell Lee Rogers, 59, of Oak Vale, MS, was charged with two counts of armed sexual battery and one count of armed kidnapping. He was arrested Friday (June 15) in Mississippi and booked into the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Jail where he will await extradition to Pinellas County.
The rape happened about 10 p.m. Feb. 16, 1987. The woman, who was 22 at the time drove to a laundromat 5731 Seminole Blvd. As she began to remove clothes from the washing machine, an unknown man approached from behind her, produced a knife and held it to her side.
The man forced the woman toget into the passenger side of her vehicle while he got in the driver’s side. Deputies said the man drove north on Seminole Boulevard until he pulled off the roadway into a wooded area.
Once in the wooded area, he ordered her out of the vehicle and forced her to perform sexual acts on him at knifepoint. He then forced the victim to undress and sexually battered her, deputies said.
After the sexual battery, the man drove the woman back to the laundromat where he ordered her into the bathroom. The suspect directed her to stay in the bathroom for 10 minutes, then said she could leave the laundromat. The man fled while she was in the bathroom.
Once she left the laundromat, she called law enforcement to report the incident.
During the investigation, deputies said evidence was collected, processed and submitted for analysis.
Latent fingerprints were recovered from a public telephone near the laundromat. The recovered prints were submitted through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System on multiple occasions throughout the
years, but no identifications were made. The case remained inactive during this time.
In April 2016, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office upgraded their current AFIS system with new Morphotrak biometric software. The new software provided improvements in both fingerprint matching algorithms and system architecture, significantly improving the accuracy and efficiency of the AFIS system.
In January 2018, during a case review, cold case detectives requested latent print examiners utilize the new AFIS biometric software to processes the same latent fingerprint evidence that was collected in 1987. The new technology identified one viable candidate. Latent print examiners were able to identify the fingerprints from the public telephone to those of Rogers who was 27 at the time of the incident.
Through cooperation with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, a search warrant was obtained to collect Rogers’ DNA. The DNA was collected and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center for analysis. The DNA evidence confirmed Rogers to be the suspect in this case.
An arrest warrant was obtained, and on Friday (June 15), Rogers was taken into custody by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. Rogers was taken to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in Monticello, MS, to be interviewed by Pinellas sheriff’s detectives.
According to detectives, Rogers said he could not recall the specific incident, but did not deny the allegations. Rogers said he understood that his DNA evidence was found, which confirmed him as the suspect.
Pinellas Sheriff | Crime | Rape | Cold Case | Arrests | Tampabay News
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