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DNA match brings arrest in rape case

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WINNIPEG police believe they've solved a decade-old rape case thanks to a DNA match in the national databank.

Justin Crow, 34, was arrested this week and charged with an October 2003 sexual assault and robbery of a 26-year-old woman.

Crow wasn't hard to find -- he's currently serving time in the Headingley jail.

Police say it was part of Crow's recent sentence, for an offence that occurred outside the city, which led to a judge ordering a sample of his DNA.

That sample was then processed through the system to see if it could be linked with any existing cold cases across the country.

"I think this goes to show, that with these types of crimes the investigation always continues," Winnipeg police Const. Eric Hofley said Thursday.

"The lapse of a long period of time doesn't necessarily mean you're getting away with it."

In this case, the victim was attacked by two unknown men while walking in the 100 block of Princess Street. Police say DNA evidence was recovered from the scene but efforts to link it to any suspects were unsuccessful at the time.

Hofley said the break in the case should provide hope to other victims who are still searching for justice.

"We understand crimes of a sexual nature tend to be heinous. It's nice to know they're still being investigated," he said.

Police are now refocusing their efforts on finding the second suspect, who has not been identified.

Anyone with information regarding this case or the identity of the second suspect is asked to contact investigators with the sex crimes unit at (204) 986-6245 or Crime Stoppers at (204) 786-TIPS (8477).

There have been a handful of other DNA-related criminal breakthroughs in recent years. The most notorious was the arrest of career criminal Mark Grant for the 1984 killing of Winnipeg teen Candace Derksen.

Using advancements in technology, forensic investigators were able to link Grant to seven strands of hair found at the crime scene.

Grant was convicted of second-degree murder during a trial two years ago, but the Court of Appeal recently overturned the verdict and ordered a new hearing based on errors made by the judge. No dates have been set.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2013 A6

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