Florida investigators have used DNA evidence to link a 20-year-old rape suspect to an Orlando-based suspect, Tuesday said.
Dwight Harris, 50, was arrested on July 2 and July 2002 at his home in connection with two rape cases involving Orlando police and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. announced at a joint press conference.
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“Dwight Arthur Harris has been hiding the secret of the violence for nearly 20 years,” said Orlando Police Lt. Frank Chisari.
Harris won the Woodline Rapist moniker depending on how he attacked his victims, ”Chisari said, explaining that Harris would wait for him to return home alone after a night out and attack him as he opened his door. He would then drag the victim into a nearby forest, simply hitting a tree line and sexually assaulting him.
Detectives said Harris did not recognize his victims and was not familiar to law enforcement. At the time of his arrest, investigators said Harris was “living a normal life.”
“He had a family, he had a normal job. It’s like it never happened,” Chisari said.
In early 2020, investigators assisted Florida law enforcement Dertmenti and Rabbi NanoLabs in conducting a genetic test using a Woodline Rapist DNA sample.
As a result of the analysis, investigators and analysts used DNA to create a family tree through online databases and narrow down the search.
After identifying Harris, detectives obtained his DNA from Woodline Rapist to confirm it matched the sample.
Harris was twice charged with a weapon or physical force that killed a sexual battery. He could face up to life in prison.
Detectives believe Harris may have been involved in more incidents, including the 2011 rape, and are actively investigating.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said the success of the Woodline Rapist cold case has led Orlando police to begin storing evidence in cases of sexual assault for 50 years.
“For those who are there, for those who may think they’ve gotten rid of something, in the future, they might as well be identified,” Rolon said.