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DNA Helps Solve Rape Case 14 Years Later
James Willis, 43.
VAN BUREN, AR (KNWA) - A Missouri man has pleaded guilty in a rape case that remained cold for 14 years.
In March of 2000, a Van Buren woman reported being raped at knife point by an unknown intruder. Back in July, Prosecutor Marc McCune announced James Willis, 43, had been arrested in the case.
McCune says that in 2005, a 'Joe Doe' warrant was issued on the suspect's DNA profile from evidence collected at the scene. The crime lab recently notified him it had found a DNA match, and Van Buren officers went to Missouri and arrested Willis.
On Wednesday, Willis, entered his guilty plea, according to McCune. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison and will have to do a minimum of 24.5 years before becoming eligible for parole. His jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday, March 3.
During the 2000 investigation, Van Buren Police reportedly collected a cigarette butt in the yard along with the victim's shorts and panties for DNA testing that later matched Willis' submitted DNA while in prison in Missouri on unrelated charges.