Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot announced that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the aggravated sexual assault of a Dallas woman in 1985.
“I don’t think he or anyone would have stepped forward and confessed, so it’s this type of evidence that allows us to go forward on these cases," said Creuzot.
The Dallas County District Attorney's Office, in collaboration with the Dallas Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, arrested 74-year-old David Thomas Hawkins at his home in Keene, Texas early Thursday morning.
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Authorities said DNA evidence links Hawkins to three other aggravated sexual assaults in Dallas and two aggravated sexual assaults in Shreveport, Louisiana between 1980 and 1985.
"This case was solved through the use of forensic genetic genealogy analysis and is the first of its kind to be solved in this manner in Dallas County," Creuzot said.
Hawkins will be booked into Dallas County Jail on a charge of aggravated sexual assault, police said, with more charges expected to be filed in coming weeks. The 74-year-old had a previous conviction for rape from 1973 and was released on parole in 1977 after being sentenced.
While investigating the 1985 aggravated sexual assault case, investigators consulted with experts in forensic genetic genealogy.
In 2005, the Dallas Police Department issued a press release encouraging victims of sexual assault which occured in the 1970s or 1980s to contact police regarding the status of their case in what authorities called the Sexual Assault Cold Case Program.
The survivor of the 1985 sexual assault contacted Dallas police and requested that her case be reopened. Through DNA testing, it was discovered that the suspect in the four Dallas cases and the two Shreveport cases, all form 1980 to 1985, matched the same person.
Police said the suspect remained unidentified until Hawkins' DNA was subjected to genealogical research and analysis.
According to authorities, the same advanced DNA testing helped to crack the Golden State Killer case.
Assistant District Attorney Leighton D'Antoni is the Chief of DA's Cold Case Team and the lead prosecutor on this case. Investigators Tammy Goodman and Jon Wakefield are the lead District Attorney's Office investigators.
Dallas Police Department Detective Todd Haecker investigated and filed the aggravated sexual assault case from 1985 , and FBI Special Agent Randall K. White is the lead agent from the Dallas FBI Office.
"This is why we have the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant," ADA D'Antoni said. "It affords us the opportunity to investigate and vigorously prosecute cases that could not be solved decades ago. The use of forensic genetic genealogy is a game changer for us. I want to thank the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas FBI Office for their hard work on this case as we seek to pursue justice on behalf of these women and their families. This investigation highlights what can happen when the best in Dallas County law enforcement come together to solve the most difficult cold cases."