Police use DNA from face mask to crack 13-year-old rape case

Forensic investigators able to match samples from crime scene to suspect, who allegedly brutally raped a tourist in a Jerusalem park in 2009

A face mask left on Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, November 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)
A face mask left on Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany, November 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

Police announced Thursday that they had arrested a man on suspicion of raping a tourist in 2009 after DNA collected from a face mask he used helped investigators identify him.

The suspect, a Jerusalem resident in his 30s, was a minor at the time of the alleged crime and his name is therefore prohibited from publication by Israeli law.

In early 2009, police received a report of a tourist arriving at a Jerusalem hospital with wounds all over her body.

The woman, who was temporarily residing in Israel while taking part in a seminar, told investigators she was led to a local public park after the suspect offered to help her carry a musical instrument in her possession.

In the park, he allegedly hit her on the head and raped her. Immediately afterward, the suspect fled the scene and the victim was taken to the hospital for medical treatment.

Police opened an investigation, but for many years their efforts to track down the suspect proved fruitless.

However, the nearly 13-year-long probe saw a significant breakthrough recently, with police utilizing technological advancements in forensic identification and additional evidence that included matching DNA collected from a discarded face mask with samples from the rape scene.

Authorities contacted the woman and updated her on the new findings. The suspect was arrested after the woman arrived in Israel earlier this week.

He was brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday, where he was remanded in custody for seven days.

“The cracking of the case and the suspect’s arrest were made possible thanks to the perseverance of Jerusalem District forensic investigators and their use of advanced technological methods and creative investigative actions,” said Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman.

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