Man arrested after familial DNA testing links him to rape cases in Arizona, Cedar City

Stock image by Flikr, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —  DNA testing has led to the arrest of a 58-year-old Arizona man identified as the suspect allegedly responsible for two sexual assaults, one in Arizona and another in Cedar City, both of which were reported more than 15 years ago.

David Louis Slade of Eagar, Arizona, was located and arrested by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona Thursday in connection with a sexual assault reported just outside Flagstaff, Arizona in April, 2003, as well as a second sexual assault reported in Cedar City the following year, according to a statement recently released by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.

At the time of the incident in Arizona, an 18-year-old woman reported to police that an unknown male suspect entered her home at night and held her against her will as he sexually assaulted her. Detectives were able to obtain semen left by the suspect that was collected during the investigation.

The evidence was sent to the crime lab where a DNA profile was obtained, but with no suspect to compare it to, they were unable to identify the perpetrator and the investigation remained open.

Meanwhile, in Cedar City, detectives were called to the scene of a sexual assault in July of the following year where a young woman reported that an unknown man entered her apartment during the night and sexually assaulted her.

Cedar City Police Detectives were able to collect biological evidence as they processed the scene which was later analyzed by the Utah State Crime Lab and a DNA profile was obtained.

Coconino County Detention Facility where rape suspect, David Slade, is being held, Flagstaff, Arizona, June 2016 | Photo courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

The DNA profiles from each case were submitted to the national DNA database independently of one another, and authorities in both states were notified that the DNA profile from both cases were from the same suspect. But identifying the suspect would take more than a decade as the cases remained unsolved.

In March 2019, the DNA collected from the 2003 scene was submitted to the DNA Unit at the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Crime Lab by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities requested to have a familial DNA search of any samples taken from inmates or individuals who were either arrested for or convicted of qualifying felony crimes.

During the search, crime lab analysts were able to identify two potential relatives of the unidentified suspect. The individuals discovered had been arrested or convicted of crimes that were not related to either of the sexual assault cases and were related to the suspect on his paternal side.

With the assistance of the Apache County Sheriff’s Office, detectives in Coconino County were able to identify Slade as a possible suspect from the crime lab results, and on Dec. 27, a sample of the suspect’s DNA was obtained and delivered to the crime lab in Arizona.

Three days later, the crime lab reported that the DNA sample provided by Slade matched the samples collected during the 2003 case in Arizona as well as the 2004 Utah case.

On Thursday, Slade was located and arrested by authorities and then appeared before a judge in Apache County. He was then released into the custody of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect was later transported to Flagstaff where he is being held at the Coconino County Jail facing multiple charges including kidnapping, burglary and sexual assault.

In Cedar City, the news that Slade was identified and arrested was “fantastic,” particularly in light of the fact that the case has been open for so many years, Cedar City Police Sgt. Clint Pollock told St. George News Tuesday.

“Anytime we get to close an old case like that it provides the family with some closure,” he said.

The arrest also provides relief for the victim in this case, Pollock said, adding that she can relax and feel secure now that he has been identified and is in custody.

Pollock said charges relating to the Cedar City case will be submitted to the Iron County Attorney’s Office for review.

Coconino authorities extended their appreciation to the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Lab “for their expertise and expediency in analyzing the biological evidence.”

Additionally, the Apache County Sheriff’s Office, Springerville Police Department and Eagar Police Department provided assistance in locating and arresting the suspect in the case.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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