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Florida man Jared Vaughn has been arrested and charged with sexual battery after he submitted his DNA to an ancestry site, helping police solve a 14-year-old cold case.
The Washington Post reports that a University of Tampa student was allegedly raped by Vaughn, a stranger to the victim at the time, in her dorm room in 2007. “We ran into a few dead ends in the case back in 2007," assistant Tampa Police Chief Ruben Delgado said in a news conference. The perpetrator vanished after the victim reported the assault, but after Vaughn provided a sample of his DNA to a public genealogy database police were able to deduce that he was who they were looking for.
The man believed to be Vaughn allegedly raped the woman in her shower when she was drunkenly returning from a festival. He supposedly fled the scene when her roommate came home. “"The roommate] described the male as appearing shocked and nervous as if he did not expect someone to arrive at the apartment," the police report reads, per Fox 13. "She went into the bathroom with the victim and closed the door, and never saw the male again."
Police failed to find any DNA evidence at the time that pointed towards the perpetrator, but the case was revisited in 2020 through the use of genetic genealogy testing databases. Parabon NanoLabs discovered a possible match after searching through the DNA available through GEDmatch and FamilyTree. Vaughn, who is now 44 years old, turned himself in last week. It’s worth noting, as police did, that participants of public genealogy databases must opt in for law enforcement matching.
“It has taken 14 years for resolution in this case, but it’s something that was important to us and was important to the victim, to get some closure in this case," added Delgado . "That was the whole idea about this squad, to kind of take these cases that haven been unsolved, kind of re-energize them, get with FDLE, see what we can do on the technology side, and in this case, it was a positive and the victim can now have some closure."