DNA samples connect five rapes to one suspect

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge has confirmed DNA samples taken from an Ovett woman who was raped in March of 2009 matches four other samples taken from rape victims since 2005.

Area law enforcement have long suspected that a single person was responsible for the attacks, but the DNA evidence today conformed their suspicions.

Jones County authorities are reaching out to other local and state law enforcement agencies to help solve the case of a serial rapist who has been connected to at least four sexual assaults, one in Lauderdale County.

Many of those agencies are, in turn, issuing new warnings to their citizens to help keep them safe.

In Richton on Thursday night, police officials met with the public to discuss the latest in a string of five sexual assaults in Jones County over the last few years.

The most recent rape occurred less than two weeks ago in Ovett, just a few miles north of Richton.

Authorities said they have both fingerprints and DNA samples and are waiting to match them to a suspect.

Jones County officials, who are heading the investigation, said the meeting was part of an intensified effort to stop the assaults.

Sheriff Alex Hodge said his department is still making use of a 2007 composite sketch of a suspect in four of the rapes. He is described as a short, stocky, Hispanic man, from 25 to 35-years-old.

Hodge said the suspect could have changed his appearance since the sketch was made, and wants residents aware.

Hodge said evidence has linked this suspect to the 2005 sexual assault of a woman in Lauderdale County, and soon those results may link him to the assault in Ovett.

Hodge added, his department is putting together cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the rape suspect. He said details of that reward will be made public soon.