Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg police use DNA, MySpace to find suspect in 1999 rape

ST. PETERSBURG — Lured into the home of a stranger, the 16-year-old girl was beaten and raped.

When her attacker was done, he took the victim's driver's license from her purse. Then he let her go with a warning:

"Now if you call the police," he said, "I will come to your house and kill you."

The girl did call police. But she didn't know St. Petersburg very well. She couldn't lead them back to her attacker's home. Police couldn't find the suspect, and the investigation stalled.

That was 10 years ago. Now the law — and technology — have finally caught up to the man police say attacked the girl.

Elliot Mack, 39, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Tuesday, charged with sexual battery. He arrived via Texas, where he was extradited on a Florida arrest warrant. He was being held Tuesday night without bail.

It was DNA and social networking that helped Detective Joseph Bross close the cold case, according to St. Petersburg police.

The assault took place on May 15, 1999, police said. The victim was driving home to Seminole from the St. Petersburg home of her boyfriend.

"She got disoriented and stopped and asked for directions," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt.

That's how she met Mack, police said. He said she could follow him to Seminole, but first he had to stop by his house.

He invited her inside, police said, then forced the victim into a bedroom, beat and threatened her life, and sexually assaulted her. He also implied, but never showed her, that he had a gun.

After he freed her, the victim ignored his threat. She called police from a gas station but couldn't lead them to her attacker. All detectives had was a sample of the attacker's DNA.

But for years there was nothing to match that DNA profile to. Despite a Florida arrest record dating to 1990, Mack didn't have to submit a DNA sample until 2006. That's when he was arrested on multiple counts of burglary in Okaloosa County.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement entered his DNA profile into the state offender database in January 2007.

Then, 18 months later, the detective got a call from an FDLE lab supervisor: They had found a genetic match.

Bross reopened the investigation and tracked down the victim. She picked Mack out of a photo lineup, police said.

Then police had to find Mack. But leads in Mississippi, Texas and the Florida Panhandle went nowhere. Then Bross checked social-networking Web sites. Mack had a MySpace page that led police to his location in Texas in the summer of 2008.

But there appear to have been some delays in apprehending Mack that authorities couldn't account for Tuesday.

FDLE officials said they needed more time to determine why there was an 18-month gap from the time the DNA was entered into the database and police were told of a match.

Authorities also couldn't explain why the arrest warrant was issued more than a year after the suspect was located in Texas.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

St. Petersburg police use DNA, MySpace to find suspect in 1999 rape 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Eckerd Kids: Teens in group foster homes must be allowed to keep phones

    News

    TAMPA — For many teens still reeling from being taken into foster care, a cell phone is a lifeline, child advocates say.

    Eckerd Kids, the agency that runs child welfare in Tampa Bay, will in January require agencies that run group foster homes to allow children to use cell phones. Some group homes are concerned that children may use phones for unathorized contract with their parents or other adults or to post pictures of other foster children on social media
  2. Hillsborough Democrats call Confederate monument vote a continuation of white supremacy

    Blogs

    TAMPA — Two days after Hillsborough County commissioners decided not to touch a Confederate monument in downtown Tampa, Hillsborough County Democrats have decided to weigh in.

    On Friday afternoon, Hillsborough County Democrats decried a vote by the county commission not to remove the Confederate monument in downtown Tampa.
  3. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves

    Blogs

    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  4. Editorial: Failure to invest in transit means fewer HART routes

    Editorials

    It was simple economics that forced HART, Hillsborough County's mass transit agency, to cut its bus routes. The agency will focus its resources on the more crowded urban core, limiting service in the suburbs in an effort to get more bang for the buck. These are the hard choices communities must make when they refuse to …

    Hillsborough Area Regional Transit is cutting bus routes from 41 to 34. Those in more rural areas will find it harder to catch a bus.
  5. Editorial: Senate bill sacrifices health care for tax cuts

    Editorials

    No wonder Senate Republicans drafted their health care legislation in secret. Beneath the surface, it looks no better than the House version that even President Donald Trump has called mean. This remains a massive tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the poor, the middle class and the elderly, and it would cost …

    No wonder Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, above, drafted their health care legislation in secret. Beneath the surface, it looks no better than the House version that even President Donald Trump has called mean.