DNA leads to arrest in 1986 St. Pete rape

- For someone who committed a crime more than 30 years ago, they may think they’ve gotten away with it.

Advances in DNA testing technology is proving those folks wrong.

St. Petersburg police say they have solved a rape case dating back to 1986. Investigators say Anthony Stokes raped a woman at gunpoint as she begged for her life.

Officials wouldn't go into details but said it was advancements in DNA technology that matched the suspect to this 1986 rape case.

Now they’re working to connect him to other rapes from the 1980s.

Police say Stokes didn't show any remorse Friday when he was arrested and charged with sexual battery.

Major Shannon Halstead with the St. Petersburg Police Department described what happened on that night in 1986.

“There was a 39-year-old woman home alone in her house.  An unknown suspect forcefully entered her house and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. She begged for him not to shoot and kill her," he said.

DND evidence was collected after the violent rape, but that was nearly 32-years ago.

The crime was re-examined a few times, but without any suspects, the case went cold.

It was officially reopened in 2015.

“Because of the advancements in DNA technology, they were fortunate to develop a suspect in this case,” Major Halstead said.

Investigators focused-in on Stokes, who would have been 25 at the time of the attack, and say they were able to match the DNA from the crime scene to him.

Police say the victim is incredibly grateful her alleged attacker, now 56 years old, is finally behind bars.

However, the job is not done for detectives.

“We know for a fact that he's connected to other cases, so because of those open investigations I’m not going to get into specific detail about how we gathered that DNA, but there's no doubt in our mind that it's his DNA,” Halstead said.

Officials say they are also cross-checking his DNA with unsolved sexual assaults in other localities.

“So if there is someone out there who thought, ‘It's been 32-years. No one cares.’ It's not true. We would be grateful to put together some other puzzle pieces and move those cases to closure also,” Halstead said.

The victim told police she lived in fear for years and never went back to the house where the rape happened.

She's now in her 70s and investigators say she is a little worried about possibly having to testify and confront Stokes.

He made his first court appearance Saturday morning and is being held on $250,000 bond.

If anyone has any additional information, they are urged to call St. Petersburg Police at 893-7780. They can also text SPPD + the tips to TIP-411.

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