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DNA leads to arrest of man suspected in 1990s California rape cases

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Officials from the city of Sacramento, Sacramento County and Yolo County gathered Monday to announce the arrest of a man suspected in three rapes between 1992 and 1994.

Mark Manteuffel, 59, was arrested Friday by federal agents in the Atlanta, Georgia, suburb of Decatur on suspicion of three counts of rape, two counts of torture with the use of a knife and one count of sodomy.

Below is a timeline of events detailing the three cases:

Sacramento County Case
8:30 p.m., May 5, 1992 – Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones reports a 52-year-old woman had just returned home in the Rosemont neighborhood and disarmed her alarm when a man lying in wait attacked her. She was sexually assaulted for over three hours before the man fled her home.
"And was almost immediately accosted and assaulted by someone who was lying in wait inside of her residence. For the next over three hours, she was assaulted, sexually assaulted and various sexual acts were committed against her," Jones said.
Davis Case
January 1994 – Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig reports a 22-year-old college student was on a jog when she was grabbed by a masked man. He attacked her with a stun gun, dragged her away and committed "monstrous crimes."
Sacramento Case
9 p.m., March 23, 1994 – Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn reports a female victim returned to her East Sacramento home, where a masked suspect was waiting for her. He attacked her, bound her and sexually assaulted her multiple times before leaving.
"The suspect physically attacked her, bound her and sexually assaulted her multiple times prior to fleeing her home," Hahn said.

In 1993, around the time of his three alleged rapes, Manteuffel was a Sacramento State student and a part-time guest lecturer in criminal justice at the school.

His law enforcement career would span more than two decades. He worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Atlanta, Georgia, and Miami, Florida.

At one point, Manteuffel came under investigation for accusations he was trying to plant evidence on an inmate, according to court documents.

Manteuffel will be extradited back to California.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert credited DNA technology in the identification of the suspect.

"The message should be clear: If you committed a violent crime in this community and you left your DNA, you can expect that we’re going to try to solve that crime, bring you to justice," DA Schubert said.

Schubert said it took a collaborative effort among sheriff's and police detectives, as well as FBI agents, to track Manteuffel down.

Similar to the infamous East Area Rapist case, investigators used DNA technology to match Manteuffel’s DNA that had been left at crime scenes with that of someone in his family tree who likely volunteered theirs in a database like GEDmatch or Ancestry.com.

"They have to look through the ancestry of that family and look for descendants in that family that were living in the area at the time," said Ruth Dickover, who heads the forensic science program at the University of California, Davis.

Dickover said the use of DNA and genetic genealogy is becoming more common, solving more than 54 cold cases nationwide.

It's possible the person who submitted DNA from Manteuffel’s family tree doesn’t even know they were the key to unlocking a violent cold case.

"It’s usually a very distant relative, probably doesn’t even know they’re related to the person," Dickover told KTXL.

In California, this DNA database breakthrough has led investigators to suspects in two high profile, serial rape cases – the Golden State Killer and the NorCal Rapist.

“These are horrific crimes that families have waited decades for (answers),” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. “It’s changing the world. It’s probably the single greatest advancement since the time of fingerprints.”

In all these cases, investigators used DNA left at crime scenes to match it with someone in the suspect’s family tree. Those people voluntarily gave their DNA through an online database.

DA Schubert said Sacramento can expect more arrests using this new technology.

“So, we’re very clear about the types of cases that we're going to do it on," she said. "We're clear about the cases we won’t do it on. We’re focusing on violent crime.”

Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said his department is looking at all violent cold cases to see if genetic genealogy could provide answers.

“There are some cases where they haven’t been arrested,” Hahn said. “They haven’t had these major criminal histories. So, you need things like this to solve it.”

Genetic genealogy is so new that only one case has gone to trial. The suspect was convicted just last week in Washington State.

Still, Sacramento Criminal Defense Attorney Dan Olsen said there could be an argument that using DNA from online databases poses privacy concerns.

“I’m sure the family member that submitted their DNA was probably not looking to have it used in a police case,” Olsen told KTXL.

Since most of the sites require you sign a disclosure, however, he said it will likely hold up in court.

“Since DNA evidence, in general, is very powerful, I would expect that there will be convictions unless there’s some other problem,” Olsen said.

“We don’t file a case unless we believe we can prosecute it and prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Schubert said.

Manteuffel was in jail Tuesday night in Atlanta, Georgia, where he had retired. The case has already been filed in Yolo County.

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