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California man for arrested over 1989 attempted murder and rape cold case after DNA breakthrough 

A man has been arrested on rape and attempted murder charges over a 1989 home invasion after his DNA was finally matched to a database 32 years later.

John Harris Jr., now 55, allegedly entered an apartment in San Mateo, California around 4:15am on February 4, 1989, grabbed a knife and went to the victim’s bedroom.

Once in the bedroom, he allegedly raped, choked, stabbed, and sliced the throat of the victim – barely missing her jugular vein. 

The victim managed to fight back and eventually convinced her attacker – who had covered his face with a bandana – to leave her apartment.

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John Harris Jr., 55, in 2021

John Harris Jr., 55, has been arrested for a heinous crime committed back in 1989 after DNA evidence helped the police connect him to a rape and attempted murder. He is pictured, left, in 1989, and right in his 2021 mugshot

The attack took place at the apartment complex in San Mateo pictured above

The attack took place at the apartment complex in San Mateo pictured above

CBS San Francisco reports that the investigation into the crime went cold after interviews didn’t turn up a suspect.

The investigators continued to submit the DNA evidence they had in the case over the years, however, hoping technology would eventually catch up and provide a match, which it did in December.

‘Submission after submission of DNA evidence led us to where we are today, the identification of our suspect,’ San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini said, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Harris’ DNA was not in a national law enforcement database and officials didn’t share exactly how they managed to match the DNA to the suspect.  

One official did say it was similar to how the Golden State Killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was identified in 2018.

In that case, investigators constructed a genetic family tree using public DNA website GEDmatch.

The company has since updated their privacy rules and requires users to opt-in to having their data be shared with law enforcement. 

Law enforcement recently spoke to the unidentified victim of the San Mateo attack, who was relieved a suspect had finally been nabbed. 

Harris allegedly lived in the victim’s neighborhood, but was not known by her. As of last year, Harris was living in San Francisco. 

After Harris was identified by the DNA evidence, police surveyed the Manteca resident for a month to collect evidence and verify their suspect.

At the time of his arrest, Harris was working for a company that installed surveillance equipment. He’s being held in the San Mateo County Main Jail on $500,000 bail.

After the arrest, police spoke about the incredible breakthrough.

‘We’ve reached out to the victim in this case and understandably she’s relieved and appreciative to hear the news,’ San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini said.

‘Our hearts go out to her. She’s lived for 32 years of, of something I can’t imagine and I don’t think any of us can.

'We’ve reached out to the victim in this case and understandably she’s relieved and appreciative to hear the news,' San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini said in a press conference

‘We’ve reached out to the victim in this case and understandably she’s relieved and appreciative to hear the news,’ San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini said in a press conference

‘While we’re announcing the arrest of a suspect in this case, our hearts and thoughts are with the victim.’

District Attorney Inspector Kevin Raffaelli spoke about the case as well, saying ‘It was one of those cases that just stays in your mind just because of how horrific it was and how despicable of an act it was.’ 

Police are also continuing to process DNA under the belief that there may be more alleged victims of Harris.

He is set to be arraigned on charges of attempted murder and aggravated mayhem, though the statute of limitations for rape charges has passed.

Harris faces a life sentence if he is convicted. 


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