Advanced DNA Technology Helps Solve 2004 Cold Case
A variety of resources and teams had to come together to investigate a sexual assault case in San Marcos that had gone cold. On October 9, 2004, San Marcos Police received a call about a man entering a woman’s home and sexually assaulting her in her bedroom. Upon arrival, officers found evidence that the suspect had taken off on foot and was no longer at the home. The victim stated that she was never able to see the man’s face, as he covered it with a shirt or mask.
The victim was taken to a hospital in Seguin, where a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) was completed and evidence was gathered, including a DNA sample from the suspect. The SAFE was collected by SMPD and sent off to DPS for testing. Without many leads, detectives weren’t able to identify a suspect and the DNA was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) in hopes that a match would be made in the future.
Years later, investigators reviewed the case and followed up with the victim, and found that she was still interested in prosecuting the person responsible. Investigators then coordinated with the DPS Crime Safety Laboratory to conduct additional DNA testing that was more advanced than the original testing done in 2004.
In March of 2023, DPS found a possible lead connected to 44-year-old Ricardo Cruz Rodriguez. Although Rodriguez grew up in San Marcos, investigators learned he was living in Tampa, Florida.
With assistance from the Texas Rangers and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, police were able to obtain a DNA sample from Rodriguez. The new DNA sample was compared to the DNA sample collected from the SAFE in 2004. A DPS lab report found that the two samples were a match.
SMPD was able to coordinate with the Hays County District Attorney’s Office and HCSO detectives to arrest Rodriguez in Florida on Monday, September 25. He was charged with two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault and taken to the Orient Road Jail in Tampa. He is now awaiting extradition to Texas.
Our police department also wants to recognize the hard work in part by Cpl. Templeton.
“Corporal Templeton’s initial review of the cold case and recognition that it had potential to be solved, then taking the steps to get this going was instrumental in solving this case,” said Sergeant Michael Casillas.
All law enforcement agencies involved are glad their collaboration paid off and are keeping the survivor of this assault in their thoughts.
“I hope the victim can begin healing knowing that the man who committed this gruesome crime is behind bars,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
SMPD is thankful it had access to Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) assistance. The Department of Justice program provides grant funding for agencies to further their cold cases involving homicides and sexual assaults. We would also like to express its gratitude to CODIS for taking multiple testing requests from our agency.
“This arrest would not have been possible without this funding from the DOJ,” said SMPD Cpl. Brady Templeton, who traveled to Florida to further this investigation.
Since the inception of the SAKI program in 2019, there have been nine successful leads generated, including this latest case stemming out of San Marcos.