Wagswoofs – A rape suspect was caught when his genetic family tree tripped him up. He was arrested for two rapes that happened 20 years ago in two different towns. A new, cutting-edge DNA method helped police connect a guy from Florida to rapes that happened 20 years ago in New York City, they said.
The suspect in the cold case was caught thanks to a new method called investigative genetic genealogy. At a news conference, the police, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and Bronx DA Darcel Clark all praised it. The method uses DNA analysis on samples from crime scenes and matches them with consumer genealogy databases to find a match with “genetic relatives who agreed to assist law enforcement.”
The picture helped police find Jancy Santiago, 48, in Florida. Prosecutors said that police found a piece of Santiago’s DNA in a water bottle that was thrown away in Florida. Police said the DNA sample was the same as DNA they had found at crime scenes 20 years ago.
On November 15, 2023, Santiago was charged with first-degree rape in front of Bronx Supreme Court Justice Kim Parker. Bail was set at $1 million in cash and $2.5 million in bonds on December 12, 2023.
“After all these years, we are finally providing justice for two women who survived terrifying attacks,” Clark said. “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.”
The first victim was struck on May 23, 2000, according to the charge. A woman, 27 years old, came back to her Midtown apartment to find that a man had broken in. The woman said that someone bound her arms and feet with a wire hanger and pushed her into the bathroom. Then he raped her.
According to a DNA sample made from the victim’s rape kit, the person named “John Doe” was charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2005.
The second case happened in the Bronx in December 2001. When a 21-year-old woman woke up, there was a guy in her room with her face covered. He used a wire hanger to tie her up and raped her.
The prosecutors said that the DNA profile of the victim’s rape kit matched the DNA profile of the case in Manhattan.
“DNA is a powerful tool to solve cold cases and secure justice for survivors even decades after a crime takes place,” Bragg said. “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, “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.”