DNA Breakthrough: Arrest Made in 20-Year-Old Cold Case Through Genetic Family Tree

DNA Breakthrough: Arrest Made in 20-Year-Old Cold Case Through Genetic Family Tree

A man suspected of committing rapes two decades ago in different boroughs was caught using a new and advanced DNA technique. This method, called Investigative Genetic Genealogy, involves analyzing DNA from crime scenes and comparing it to consumer genealogy databases to find matches with willing genetic relatives.

At a press conference, the police and District Attorneys Alvin Bragg and Darcel Clark announced the successful use of this technique in solving a cold case.

The investigation identified Jancys Santiago, a 48-year-old man in Florida, as the suspect. Police obtained a sample of Santiago’s DNA from a discarded water bottle in Florida, and it matched the DNA collected from the crime scenes 20 years earlier.

On November 15, 2023, Santiago was arraigned on first-degree rape charges before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Kim Parker. On December 12, 2023, bail was set at $1 million in cash or $2.5 million in bond.

“After all these years, we are finally providing justice for two women who survived terrifying attacks,” Clark stated. “Our Bronx victim said she had been waiting more than 20 years to hear that her alleged rapist was caught. I thank the Manhattan DA’s Office and the NYPD, and my Forensic Science Unit for their relentless efforts for these women. Investigative Genetic Genealogy will help solve all sorts of cold cases, not limited to murders, and hold perpetrators accountable. It will also help to name our unidentified homicide victims so their relatives can have closure.”

In May 23, 2000, a 27-year-old woman was attacked in her Midtown apartment. She came home to find a man had broken in. He forced her into the bathroom, tied her arms and feet with a wire hanger, and then raped her.

A DNA profile from a rape kit taken at the time identified the attacker as “John Doe” in 2005, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The second incident occurred in December 2001 in the Bronx. A 21-year-old woman woke up to find a man in her room who covered her face, bound her with a wire hanger, and raped her.

Prosecutors stated that the DNA profile from this victim’s rape kit matched the one from the Manhattan case.

“DNA is a powerful tool to solve cold cases and secure justice for survivors even decades after a crime takes place,” Bragg stated. “Alongside our partners in law enforcement, we never give up on seeking accountability – particularly for such horrific and violent allegations as these. I thank the Bronx D.A.’s Office and the NYPD, as well as the prosecutors in my office, for pursuing answers with such determination while centering survivors throughout.”

Police Commissioner Edward Caban stated that, “Investigations may grow colder with the passage of time, but these indictments prove that the best detectives in the world do not ever forget victims and the justice rightfully owed to them. I commend and thank for their skilled dedication to this critical work our NYPD forensic genetic genealogist, investigators, and criminologists, as well as New York City’s chief medical examiner and everyone involved in these cases from the Manhattan and Bronx district attorneys’ offices.”

With more than two years of expertise in news and analysis, Eileen Stewart is a seasoned reporter. Eileen is a respected voice in this field, well-known for her sharp reporting and insightful analysis. Her writing covers a wide range of subjects, from politics to culture and more.