A cold case more than ten years old may have been solved by a clue given by a man who was leaving prison. West Des Moines police say three young teenage girls had car trouble as they cruised around downtown Des Moines one day late in 1995. A man who stopped and told them he was an officer took one of the girls in his car, but West Des Moines Police Lieutenant Jeff Miller says the 13-year-old soon discovered he was no Good Samaritan.
The man drove the girl out to West Des Moines and sexually assaulted her. Police from the capital city and the suburb worked the case but couldn’t produce leads that led anywhere. The cold case came up again in December 2005, when Miller says his agency sent in another sample of the DNA from the case to the state crime lab in Ankeny. "Technology in the DNA world has really changed, so we resubmitted it," Miller says.
Back in July of 2006 a man getting ready to be released from a sentence he’d finished at the prison in Newton gave a DNA sample as required. The correctional facility sent that to the crime lab, too, and this past December the lab contacted West Des Moines police to say the DNA from the girl’s assailant matched that of the ex-con, Jody McCullah.
Authorities tracked down McCullah and arrested him, charging him with kidnapping in the 1995 case. He’s 38 years old today. The girl is now 24, and Miller says there’s a lot of work left to do, but "the important thing is that we were able to take a bad guy off the street."
Miller praised the work of investigators in the Division of Criminal Investigation crime lab for coming up with an answer in the cold case.