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DNA used to charge mystery man in same-date deaths

DNA used to charge mystery man in same-date deaths



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah prosecutors have used a DNA profile to file charges against a mystery man who police say is responsible for the strangling deaths of two women on the same date two years apart.

Police don't know the suspect's name, so court papers filed Monday identify him as "John Doe." Tuesday was the anniversary of both women's deaths.

A pregnant Sonia Mejia was killed at her Taylorsville apartment on Feb. 9, 2006. Daminia Castillo was killed Feb. 9, 2008 at her West Valley City apartment.

Prosecutors used evidence collected at both crimes scenes to build the DNA profile that is the basis for the charges.

If ever prosecuted, "Doe" faces two counts of aggravated murder, which carry the possibility of the death penalty, for the deaths of Mejia and her unborn son. Doe also is charged with two counts of aggravated robbery one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual assault.

Last year, officers from both Salt Lake County cities formed a task force to more efficiently investigate the crimes. West Valley City Sgt. Mike Powell, who is leading the task force, told The Associated Press the women had no apparent link to each other.

Powell declined to specify what DNA evidence police have that links the cases.

"Obviously the two cases were linked forensically and we are looking for a single suspect," he told AP.

Taylorsville Detective Shannon Bennett said the charges were filed now because the time limits were about to run out on all but the homicide counts.

Meanwhile, police in both communities ran extra patrols Tuesday.

West Valley City police Sgt. Bob Bobrowski said officers had mounted "a special operation with about 40 extra people throughout the day going through apartment complexes."

Police have no leads in the cases, Bobrowski said.

"We are hoping for a DNA match," he said.

A DNA match could result if the suspect were convicted in an unrelated case and his DNA profile ended up in a national database.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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