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State College Police arrest Reedsville man for a 26-year-old cold case using genetic genealogy

Centre County Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw speaks at a podium
Min Xian
Centre County Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw, center, said State College Police made an arrest Tuesday in a 26-year-old cold case using genetic genealogy.

State College Police arrested a man from Mifflin County Tuesday on eight charges, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault, that took place in State College 26 years ago, using a “genetic genealogy” process for identification, according to the Centre County District Attorney’s office.

Scott R. Williams, of Reedsville, was arrested for allegedly raping and assaulting a Penn State senior along Pugh Street in 1995. The victim was found on the early morning of May 13 by a passerby and was covered in blood. The brutal assault left multiple fractures to the victim’s skull, face and jaw.

Williams is charged with three counts of felony for rape, aggravated assault and robbery as well as five misdemeanor counts for indecent assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, theft and receiving stolen property.

DNA samples of the suspect were collected from the victim at the time, but police were eventually confronted with the statute of limitations.

“Back in 1995, it was pretty common for crimes of violence where there was nothing other than physical evidence to identify a perpetrator to go unsolved and have the statute of limitations expire after that five year period,” Cantorna said.

Deputy District Attorney Sean McGraw said former State College Detective Thomas Jordan filed a criminal complaint in 2000 to keep the case from passing its statute of limitations, using the DNA profile.

“Detective Jordan took the literally unprecedented step in this region of filing a criminal complaint against a ‘John Doe’ identified by the DNA profile,” McGraw said.

State College police reopened the case in 2019, and using genetic genealogy, a technique similar to what led to the arrest of the "Golden State Killer," first found Williams’s mother then eventually matched Williams to the DNA found in 1995.

His bail is set at $500,000. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 13.

McGraw said the victim expressed gratitude to the police for the arrest.

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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