DNA leads to arrest of suspect in 21-year-old Warsaw rape case

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("Jail cells at the Southborough Police Station" by my_southborough, CC BY-ND 2.0)

A California man was arrested Wednesday for an alleged rape that was reported over 20 years ago in Warsaw.

Rodriguez Samandes Todd, 52, La-Mesa, Calif., was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday. His bond was tentatively set at $100,500.

He is being charged with rape, a Class A felony; kidnapping with a deadly weapon, a Class a felony; battery, a Class C felony; and intimidation with a deadly weapon, a Class C felony.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed Feb. 26, 2021, in the early morning hours of Nov. 24, 1999, a female contacted the Indiana State Police to report that she had been raped on Nov. 23, 1999. In the course of the investigation, the victim submitted to a rape examination and rape kit collection at a hospital. The victim’s rape kit and clothing were submitted to the ISP laboratory for testing.

On Nov. 24, 1999, the victim submitted to an interview and told a state trooper that on Nov. 23, 1999, she was driving from her home to a family member’s home when she experienced car trouble in Warsaw. The victim stated she stopped at a gas station at the corner of Ind. 15 and Center Street to check transmission fluid on the vehicle.

When the victim was inspecting under the hood, she alleged she was approached by a man, later identified as Todd, who said, “Let’s take a ride.” The victim alleged Todd was armed with a knife that appeared to be a 6-inch blade.

According to the affidavit, Todd ordered the victim into the vehicle and took off driving with her in the vehicle. While driving in the vehicle, Todd allegedly punched the victim in the head when she kept asking to be let go. Todd drove to a wooded area.

When they arrived in the wooded area, Todd made the victim exit the vehicle and used the knife to remove the victim’s clothing. The victim allegedly started punching Todd, who then punched the victim on both sides of the face. Todd then allegedly had sex with the victim, according to the affidavit.

ISP, with cooperation from Kosciusko County law enforcement agencies, conducted an investigation of the matter, but were unable to identify Todd at the time.

On April 15, 2019, the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office received an email from a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) unit forensic scientist with the ISP laboratory, who informed deputies that a search of the CODIS resulted in a computer match between a portion of the DNA profile obtained from the victim’s clothing and a convicted offender sample, which was matched to Todd, according to the affidavit.

On June 19, 2019, a search warrant was executed on Todd and swabs for DNA were collected, which were transferred to the ISP lab.

According to the affidavit, on Oct. 25, 2019, the ISP lab reported the analysis of the sample collected from clothing was 1 trillion times more likely the DNA from the victim and Todd, according to the victim.

On Jan 4, 2021, DNA from the rape examination and rape kit included a DNA profile indicated a match of 1 trillion times more likely the DNA came from the victim and Todd, according to the affidavit.

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