A criminal sexual assault case dating back to the 1980s has been solved, thanks to good detective work and a DNA database.
In Michigan and other states, whenever a person is convicted and sent to prison, a DNA sample is taken and kept on file,
Kent County Undersheriff John Hess said, “So the database is bigger, larger and now we have the potential to find them.”
According to Michigan State Police, there are currently 12 million offenders in the DNA database called CODIS.
One of the 12 million was Joesph Blackmer. A man police say sexually assaulted a woman in Byron Township more than 30 years ago but was never charged with a crime.
“I don’t believe you ever give up or forget,” said Undersheriff Hess.
On December 17, 1981, a 23-year-old woman was at home in the 7100 block of Houndstooth Street S.W., in Byron Township, that’s when she said an unknown man knocked on her door.
The victim answered the door to a white male approximately 19-years-old that was asking for directions. After a few seconds, the suspect pushed his way into the home and put a gun to the victim’s head.
He ordered the victim into her bedroom and sexually assaulted her. The victim called police and she was taken to the hospital for a sexual examination.
On March 26, 1982 the case was closed due to no suspects or leads.
Evidence was collected, and recently a detective reviewed several cold criminal sexual conduct cases to determine if we had any evidence that could be submitted for DNA testing.
Hess said, “It just shows there is a lot of evidence that we have to maintain for a long time, some for life.”
A CODIS match was found linking the evidence to Joseph Blackmer, who is currently incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Corrections for a similar crime he committed in Elkhart County, Indiana. Blackmer committed the crime in Indiana on June 2, 1982 and was caught the same day. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 90 years in prison but could be eligible for parole within the next 10 years.
The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the case and authorized a warrant for Joseph Blackmer for Criminal Sexual Conduct in the First Degree.
Blackmer is still at the Indiana Department of Corrections pending extradition back to Kent County.
(FOX 17’s Dave Spencer contributed to this report)