Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater man arrested after DNA ties him to St. Pete rapes in 1999 and 2001

ST. PETERSBURG — After almost two decades, police said, they have made an arrest in two unsolved sexual assault cases by matching DNA evidence to that of a Clearwater man.

Terry Dewayne White, 49, was arrested Thursday and faces charges of sexual battery in cases from 1999 and 2001, according to St. Petersburg police.

White's DNA was entered into the FBI's national database as part of another agency's investigation, and St. Petersburg police matched it to the DNA evidence collected in the cold cases.

The first case took place on May 2, 1999. Police said a 22-year-old woman was driving near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S and Jasmine Way when her car broke down shortly after midnight. Police said the man they've now identified as White offered to help her. Instead, police said, he took her to another location and assaulted her.

Two years later, on July 26, 2001, police said a 21-year-old woman was walking in the 3300 block of First Avenue S when White grabbed her and forced her into his car. Again, police said, he took her to another location and assaulted her there.

Both women were told Friday of White's arrest.

"They were both very, very happy to have closure to this case," police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil said. "They were both really relieved that this man was brought to justice."

White faces two counts of sexual battery for the 1991 case. He faces one count of sexual battery and one count of kidnapping in the 2001 case.

Detectives are investigating whether White might be linked to cases in other jurisdictions.

Because White has not been charged in the other agency's investigation, St. Petersburg police said they cannot reveal which agency took the DNA sample that linked him to the 1999 and 2001 cases.

White has a long criminal history of mostly minor offenses, according to the state. In the late '80s and early '90s he was convicted of possession of drugs. In the early 2000s, he was convicted of fraud for using bad checks.

In 2002, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery. A year later he violated his probation. Five years after that, in 2009, he pleaded no contest to charges of fleeing from officers and resisting an officer with violence. He is not listed in the national registry of sex offenders.

Police said they arrested White on his latest charges at 6:40 p.m. Thursday at his home at 1109 Engman St. in Clearwater. He's being held in Pinellas County jail with bail set at $370,000.

Staff writer Josh Solomon and senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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