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36 Years Later, Police Arrest Suspect in Rape and Killing of a 14-Year-Old

Capt. Frank Umbrino of the Rochester Police Department said the arrest in Wendy’s case showed “the ship keeps sailing, and anybody that questions the dedication and the commitment of the over 700 officers in this department needs to really do a gut check.”

Mr. Williams was identified, he said, with the help of increasingly sophisticated DNA technology.

The first attempt to use DNA to find a potential suspect failed in 2000, he said, when a semen sample collected at the crime scene did not result in any matches in the Combined DNA Index System, which law enforcement authorities use to identify criminal suspects.

But the police continued to work the case, he said.

In 2016, investigators found “more items of potential evidence” that could be tested with DNA technology, Captain Umbrino said, declining to identify the items. After an initial application for familial DNA testing was rejected for lack of sufficient evidence, the state gave investigators permission to conduct that type of search in April 2019.

The results came back in July, with a list of potential suspects, Captain Umbrino said. Investigators, he said, then went back and found reports and evidence from the 1990s, which helped “close our circle a little bit tighter around our suspect,” he said.

Eventually, investigators were able to take a DNA sample from Mr. Williams, which strengthened the case against him, Ms. Hahn said.

Familial DNA has been used to solve numerous high-profile cases across the country, including the rapes and murders of dozens of California residents by a man who became known as the Golden State Killer.

Captain Umbrino said Mr. Williams had not been linked to any other crimes. He offered no other details about the man, other than to say he had traveled between Rochester and Florida over the years and was unemployed.

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