Man arrested in nearly 20-year-old rape cold case in Florida

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Tampa Police Department

TAMPA (WFLA) — A man has been charged with sexual battery in a Florida rape case that happened nearly 20 years ago.

Antonio Rivers was arrested this week after a match was found in DNA evidence.

According to the Tampa Police Department, the victim told police on Dec. 17, 2000, that a masked intruder sexually battered her. A sexual battery kit was conducted, but no DNA match was found in the department’s system at the time.

In 2001, a Tampa police officer attempted to stop Rivers for a traffic violation, but he fled on foot, discarding a silver semi-automatic pistol. Rivers was later taken into custody and admitted to officers he had owned the pistol for about two years.

In January 2020, Tampa police re-analyzed prints that were collected during the rape and burglary investigation, and the prints matched those in Rivers’ booking records.

Based on Rivers’ statement in his 2001 arrest, he had been in possession of a silver semi-automatic pistol at about the same time the burglary and rape were committed, police said.

Rivers was brought in for a buccal swab to collect DNA, but he denied ever being at the crime scene, knowing or recognizing the victim.

This week, a lab report analysis determined the DNA from the swab was a match to the DNA collected during the sexual assault exam.

Rivers was arrested Tuesday and charged with armed sexual battery and armed burglary of a dwelling.

“While it may sometimes take longer than we hope, we want every crime victim to know we never think of an investigation as a ‘cold case,'” said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, “and will use every advancement in investigative approach and technology to review cases that are not yet solved.”

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