New DNA Technology May Differentiate Identical Twins in Rape Case
"GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- It was a brutal 1999 rape of a young woman in downtown Grand Rapids.
The case might have been solved years ago, but for an unusual twist in the circumstances of a suspect - he was an identical twin - and DNA technology could not distinguish between the genetic makeup of Jerome Cooper and his brother, Tyrone Cooper. Both were sex offenders.
That was then.
Now, science may have advanced enough to solve the case, police say.
A business called the Center for Advanced Forensic DNA Analysis in Greenville, N.C., claims it can look at genetic mutations to determine which brother committed the crime.
Grand Rapids police in February got a judge to sign a search warrant to obtain blood and buccal swabs from Jerome Cooper, 46. They expect to do the same for Tyrone Cooper.
Jerome Cooper was just released from prison in March for failing to comply with reporting duties as a sex offender. It was a probation violation. He has past Michigan prison convictions for home invasion and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Tyrone Cooper is in the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois on a charge of aggravated drunken driving. He has past convictions for fraud and failing to register as a sex offender.
[']This was a brutal attack,['] Grand Rapids police Capt. Jeff Hertel said of the 1999 rape. [']We're very interested in getting it resolved.[']
The rape involved a woman in her mid-20s who was walking back to her car after attending class at Kendall College. She was parked in a Fulton Street lot east of Jefferson Avenue. Police said a man grabbed her from behind and slammed her into the side of her vehicle.
The man asked her for money and then began to remove her pants. The rape ended with her lying in the parking lot, next to her vehicle, the victim told police.
Police obtained seminal evidence from her jeans, according to a search warrant affidavit.
In 2004, Jerome Cooper was arrested on an unrelated case and the DNA evidence from the rape matched his DNA. However, it was soon learned he had an identical twin.
In 2005, a DNA testing company called Orchid Cellmark tried to delineate the genetic mutations between the brothers and compare it with the rape evidence. At that time, analysts there could not make the determination.
Hertel said the Grand Rapids police forensic staff members have agreed that trying again is [']worth a shot.[']
A timetable on the testing and DNA analysis is unclear.
Hertel said the victim still wants to see her attacker held accountable.
[']She is still very engaged in helping police with this,['] he said."