DNA Helps Crack Gruesome Dickinson Cold Case

For more than 19 years, Dennis Earl Bradford has lived with the knowledge that he raped an eight-year-old girl, slit her throat, left her for dead in a field -- and got away with it.

Until today, when a combination of law-enforcement agencies announced they had cracked the very cold case and charged Bradford with attempted capital murder.

Bradford took young Jennifer Schuett from her Dickinson home against her will in August 1990, the FBI announced, and then raped and killed her (See comments). Schuett's body was discovered by kids about 14 hours later.

The case had stymied Dickinson police for years, but advances in DNA technology helped break it.

Approximately 18 months ago, the Dickinson Police Department requested FBI assistance in developing new leads on this unsolved crime. Because of advances in DNA testing, key pieces of evidence were sent to the FBI laboratory for advanced testing. A male DNA profile was successfully extracted, and that profile matched an existing DNA profile in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, that of Dennis Earl Bradford of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Research conducted immediately after receiving news of the genetic match indicated that Bradford was arrested in 1987 in Dickinson for traffic offenses.

A records check showed Bradford lived less than a quarter-mile from Schuett, the FBI said.

He's currently being held in an Arkansas jail waiting extradition.

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