FT. MYERS, FL (September 29, 2020) — Law enforcement officers from Lee County attribute cracking a 20-year-old cold case rape investigation to an at-home DNA kit. The DNA kit, called GEDMatch, allowed police to track down and crack the cold case by looking at family trees created by GEDMatch. Investigators determined that the DNA from GEDMatch linked a relative of a person who used GEDMatch to the suspect. Pinellas County sheriff's investigators say that the person who used GEDMatch and the suspect were fourth cousins, according to WINKNews.com.
Police investigated allegations that one suspect raped four women 20 years ago in Indian Rocks Beach, Venice, and Sarasota. The investigation ran stone-cold even though the suspect's DNA was present at Indian Rocks Beach and Venice crime scenes. Police were unable to match the suspect’s DNA to any known source, until recently.
Officials from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office explained that they have access to DNA databases maintained by GEDMatch, 23andMe, and Anestory.com. Police have access to the DNA profiles maintained in those databases unless the person who uploads his or her profile chooses to opt-out.
Pinellas County investigators took advantage of the information available to them. They found that a person who uploaded his DNA profile to GEDMatch came back as a possible hit, or match, for the DNA found at two crime scenes. The police made a family tree based on that match and determined the suspect, and the GEDMatch user were fourth cousins. Investigators broke open the case with the DNA profile from GEDMatch. They did not describe how they determined the GEDMatch user and the suspect were fourth cousins or how close of a "match" the first sample was to the DNA from the person who perpetrated the crime.
People interviewed by WINK News were worried about the availability of a person's DNA profile in online genealogical sites. Many people thought that police using DNA profiles was an invasion of privacy to such an extent they thought the police should get a warrant before they use a person’s DNA profile in a criminal investigation. Others thought that there was nothing to worry about the issue unless they have done something wrong.
Sexual Battery in Florida
Sexual Battery is a very serious criminal offense in Florida. The punishment for sexual Battery is harsh, and the collateral consequences of a conviction for sexual Battery could leave a person incarcerated for life.
Florida Statutes 794.011 defines sexual Battery as any penile contact between mouth, vagina, or anus or another object without consent. Consent is not the failure of resistance. Rather, consent must be given knowingly and not be coerced.
The statute criminalizes numerous acts of sexual Battery, taking into consideration the age of the alleged perpetrator, the age of the alleged victim, and the circumstances under which the sexual Battery allegedly occurred. The incarcerated portion of the sentence ranges from life in prison to thirty years in prison, depending on the severity of the charge.
The state can petition the court for an order of involuntary civil commitment if the government believes the individual is a sexual predator once the convicted sexual batterer completes the prions sentence. The person would remain in a locked facility as a danger to the public.