Rape Victim Sees Justice After 19 Years

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Dickinson, Texas – At eight years old, Jennifer Schuett was taken from her room in the middle of the night, sexually assaulted, and left for dead by her captor. Her neck had been slashed, but she was still alive. Since then, Schuett has been on a quest for justice to find her kidnapper, but has had no luck – until now.

In 1990, DNA testing was not readily available or reliable. Police have had clothing of Schuett’s and of the person who kidnapped her, but were never able to use it to their advantage. In the past year, new DNA testing procedures have been developed, enabling FBI researchers to test for DNA using a single human cell. This process is what led police to Dennis Bradford in Little Rock, Ark.

The FBI was able to match the DNA results to Bradford, now 40, using a sample already in the system from a previous arrest. After putting the pieces together, including a sketch of the perpetrator from 19 years ago, as well as Bradford’s previous residences, it was found that Bradford lived one-quarter of a mile from Schuett’s residence at the time of the incident.

Even after all these years, Schuett has never given up hope.

“Throughout this journey, I’ve had two main goals,” she told reporters. “And they were to find the man who kidnapped, sexually assaulted and attempted to murder me 19 years ago so that he could not hurt anyone else. And to use my voice in telling my story to as many people as I possibly could over the years in hopes that I may encourage other victims of violent crimes to stand up and speak out against criminals.”

Court documents reveal that Bradford has served time for a similar crime, but not for the crime against Schuett. Bradford was accused in 1996 of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and cutting the throat of a female victim. The initial charge of attempting to commit first-degree murder was lowered to individual charges of rape and kidnapping. The jury found him guilty of kidnapping but failed to reach a verdict on the rape charges. Facing a 12-year-sentence, Bradford entered prison in March 1997 but was paroled in February 2000, and has been working as a welder in North Little Rock since his release.

Bradford was arrested on October 13th, and is awaiting extradition and trial in Texas.

 

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