ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska State Troopers say a DNA match has closed a cold-case investigation into a sexual assault against an 8-year-old girl two decades ago, linking the crime with a Wasilla man who committed suicide in 2006.
According to a press release from troopers, the unnamed girl was forcibly abducted by a man from a bus stop near her home at Mile 3.5 of Fairview Loop Road, just south of Wasilla, on Feb. 7, 1991. After being forced into a pickup truck and driven to another home, she was sexually assaulted and subsequently released on Vine Road more than two hours later.
AST spokesperson Megan Peters says the girl’s parents, troopers and Mat-Su Crime Stoppers spent “hundreds and perhaps thousands of hours” trying to identify the suspect, truck and house involved in the case. No suspect was ever identified, despite numerous leads and tips in the case.
Troopers say that changed in September, when the Alaska Scientific Crime Detection Lab said it had obtained a DNA match in the case from Brooks E. Jackson. After a felony conviction on a charge of misconduct involving a controlled substance for having a marijuana grow operation in his home, Jackson was required to submit a DNA sample to his probation officer.
Jackson provided the sample in March 2006. According to AST, six days later -- before the state crime lab had analyzed the sample -- his family found him dead of a suicide in his Wasilla home.
Eventually, Jackson’s DNA pattern was identified as a perfect match with a sample collected from the girl in the 1991 sexual-assault examination, prompting troopers to begin an investigation of his other possible links to the crime.
While AST says it hasn’t been able to find the truck and house described by the girl to a sketch artist, the Palmer district attorney’s office says the 1991 assault had no statute of limitations -- and that the DNA match would have allowed Jackson to be prosecuted.
With the cold case closed, last week troopers informed the victim -- now a 28-year-old woman who wishes to remain anonymous -- of their findings.
Officials credit advances in legislation, technology and science for cracking the case.