Thursday, February 22, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas deputies solve 30-year-old cold case

Pinellas County deputies have solved a 30-year-old case involving a sexual battery committed against a then 17-year-old girl.

Deputies served an arrest warrant Wednesday on Lawrence Warren Pierce, 54, charging him with sexual battery. They served the warrant at the Bledsoe County Correctional Complex in Pikeville, Tenn., where Pierce is serving time for violating probation on a sexual battery and kidnapping charge from 2001.

The victim is not being named because of the nature of the incident.

Deputies say the incident happened on March 26, 1984, in an apartment in unincorporated Pinellas Park. The victim told deputies Pierce knocked at her door to ask directions to a bar. He forced his way in and locked the door, then asked her out on a date.

The victim said she got her 2-month-old baby from its crib, thinking Pierce wouldn't hurt her if she had the child in her arms. She told deputies she sat on the couch and gave the baby a bottle of milk.

Pierce sat next to her and began fondling her, deputies said. He took the baby out of her arms and put it back in the crib. He threw her onto her bed, took off her clothes and sexually battered her. The victim fought back, kicking and biting Pierce, deputies said. Eventually he left.

She called deputies and was able to give them a description of Pierce, whom she did not know, and of the vehicle he was driving. Deputies collected fingerprints from a Budweiser "Tall Boy" beer can that Pierce left at the scene.

The case went cold because no one identified Pierce from a sketch and there was no match to the fingerprints. Through the years the prints were processed on multiple occasions with no matches found.

In November 2013, a sheriff's latent print examiner ran the prints once again and found a possible match from the FBI database. The prints were confirmed to be Pierce's in December. Detectives from the Crimes Against Children Unit, with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, re-opened the investigation.

An arrest warrant was issued May 8 and served Wednesday. During an interview with Pierce, detectives said they discovered he was present in Florida when the incident happened. They were also able to corroborate the victim's original statements regarding the incident and confirm details of the conversation between the victim and Pierce.

Detectives believe there may be other victims and ask that anyone with information to contact Detective Jason Stibbard of the Crimes Against Children Unit at (727) 582-6200.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes on Twitter.

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Published: 02/22/18