Forensic evidence links Columbia man to 2002 rape

Forensic evidence links Columbia man to 2002 rape

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A Columbia man is facing rape and burglary charges after DNA evidence collected at the scene of a rape in 2002 linked him to the crime.

According to police, the crime happened April 29, 2002. The victim had been at a bar in downtown Columbia and was leaving around midnight when a man she didn't know approached her, police said. He apparently offered her a ride because he had noticed she had been drinking, police said.

The victim said she declined his offer and when he asked if he could follow her to make sure she got home safely, she declined that, too.

When the victim got home, she said she suddenly became ill and went to her bathroom to throw up. She later told police she thought that was odd because she only had two mixed drinks and is an experienced drinker.

She said she went back to her bed and laid down. When she looked up from her bed, she saw a man standing in her room, but she said there was no light available in the house to see who it was.

The victim said the man attacked her and pulled at her pants. The victim said she became ill during the rape and passed out. When she woke up, she said her clothes were on the floor and the man was standing over her. 

At the time, the victim could not identify the man, and the investigation did not produce any results. Investigators did find a light bulb outside the victim's door had been unscrewed and that there was a fingerprint on it. Investigators also vacuumed the victim's bedroom and sent the vacuum bag and her clothes to the lab for examination.

During a Missouri State Highway Patrol lab exam, hairs consistent with African American characteristics were found in the vacuum bag, and some bodily fluid was collected from the victim's pants. Investigators used this DNA to assemble a profile.

According to police, this profile was entered into the FBI's Combine DNA Index System, or CODIS, for periodic searches.

On March 27, 2017, the lab compared the profile to an offender DNA profile that belonged to Jennings, and it matched. He had been arrested just 10 days before the rape on April 18, 2002.

A booking photo of Jennings matched the description the victim gave at the time of the rape. Police asked the victim if she knew Jennings, and she said she didn't. She also revealed she had not had consensual sex with an unknown man around the time of the rape. She agreed to press charges.

Jennings was arrested around 5 p.m. in central Columbia Thursday. He is in the Boone County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

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