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Thursday, Sep 20, 2018
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Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.

The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it believes is responsible for that assault 31 years ago based on new fingerprint analysis.

Russell Lee Rogers of Oak Vale, Miss., was arrested on June 15 in that state on a Pinellas County warrant for two counts of armed sexual battery and one count of armed kidnapping. The 59-year-old was booked into a local jail in Mississippi and awaits extradition to Pinellas.

The victim in the case was kidnapped from a coin laundry, deputies said. Fingerprints taken from a public telephone there were entered into databases through the years, the Sheriff’s Office said, but they didn’t point to anyone.

In January, detectives had the prints re-examined using new software the Sheriff’s Office obtained in 2016. This time they found one match: Rogers, who was 27 when the crime took place.

The Sheriff’s Office then obtained a warrant to get a sample of Rogers’ DNA, which deputies said linked him to the crime.

When detectives spoke to Rogers, they said he couldn’t recall the specific incident but did not deny the allegations.

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