Tampa Police: DNA Solved Rape from 2000
His DNA was tested after officers found that a palm print at the crime scene matched the suspect’s palm print.
TAMPA – Advances in technology during the past 20 years enabled officers to solve a 20-year-old rape and burglary, the Tampa Police Department said.
Antonio Rivers, 39, of Tampa, was arrested and charged with one count each of Armed Burglary of a Dwelling and Armed Sexual Battery.
“We will never give up on our commitment to find justice for victims and hold criminals accountable,” Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said. “While it may sometimes take longer than we hope, we want every crime victim to know we never think of an investigation as a ‘cold case’ and will use every advancement in investigative approach and technology to review cases that are not yet solved.”
The charges arose from a Dec. 17, 2000, incident on Mohawk Avenue. Police were called to the address for a report of an armed sexual battery and burglary. The victim said she had returned to the home she shared with her sister when she was confronted by an intruder who was already inside the house. The intruder had his face covered up to his eyes with a mask.
He pointed a small, silver firearm and ordered the woman to step inside and close the door. He forced her to undress and then sexually battered her. He ordered her to remain in the bathroom as he fled. A sexual battery kit was conducted and uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System, but no match was found.
On July 7, 2001, a Tampa police officer tried to stop Rivers for a traffic violation. Police said Rivers fled on foot and discarded a silver Bryco Jennings 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a 3.75″ barrel. The gun was recovered and Rivers was captured.
During an interview conducted with Rivers after his arrest, he admitted to possessing the pistol for about two years. Rivers was five days from his 20th birthday at the time of this offense.
In January, a Tampa police latent fingerprint specialist re-analyzed prints that were collected during the rape and burglary investigation, and entered them into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
Prints lifted from a bedroom were a match to a male relative who was ruled out as a suspect. An additional set of two right palm prints were lifted from the bathtub in the room where the rape took place. These prints were matched to Rivers by way of an Offender Based Tracking System number, corresponding to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office booking record for Rivers.
During a follow-up interview, the victim’s sister said she did not know an Antonio Rivers and had no explanation as to why his print would be in the apartment bathroom.
The victim was asked if she knew an Antonio Rivers, and she said she did not. However, she recalled an incident in 2014 in which a man, identifying himself as Antonio Rivers on Facebook, sent her a
profane tirade that made no sense to her at the time. She indicated she did not know him, had not recalled ever meeting him, and could not understand why he messaged her.
She forwarded the messages to police, where, officers said, it is apparent by her responses at the time that she did not know him. The Facebook photo appeared similar to the same Antonio Rivers whose palm print was discovered on the bathtub.
On July 2, Tampa police detectives went to Rivers’ home to serve a search warrant for a buccal swab. An interview was conducted with Rivers, who denied ever being at the crime scene, denied knowing or recognizing the victim, and stated his DNA, prints, or hairs should not be found at the crime scene.
On Sept. 3, Tampa police received the lab report analysis from FDLE generated by the buccal swab collected from Rivers. The report determined the DNA from the buccal swab to be a match to the DNA collected during the sexual assault exam.
Rivers was arrested Tuesday (Sept. 8).
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