It was all over the local news last night at 10:00. The man who sexually assaulted Jennifer Schuett 19 years ago then slit her throat and tossed her onto a fire ant mound has been arrested. Jennifer survived that, worked with a police artist after the attack, and, today, has the peace of knowing that the man has been caught. Read Harvey Rice's article and see photos at the Houston Chronicle website.
This heartless pedophile/rapist is Dennis Earl Bradford, now 40 and living in North Little Rock, Arkansas. You may recall that I posted the police sketch of him on the website. The photo is eerily similar to the 1990 driver's license photo of Bradford, a welder who is married and the father of 2 children and step father of 3 adult children.
Round Of Applause
Thanks and congratulations to Dickinson, TX, Police Detective Tim Cromie and FBI Special Agent Richard Rennison of the bureau's Texas City, TX, office for keeping their promise to Jennifer that they would never give up. To them, this was never a cold case file. When DNA technology testing had advanced sufficiently, they submitted the man's blue tee shirt and underwear found wrapped around Jennifer's pink shorts, shirt, and white underwear near where she'd been dumped.
Though the clothing had been sent to the FBI lab at Quantico, VA, last year, the backlog of work at the lab delayed testing until last month. They ran the results through the FBI database, and, not surprisingly, got a hit. The sample from Jennifer's attack matched the sample from Bradford after he was arrested in 1997 and convicted for the abduction and rape of a woman from a nightclub in Hot Springs, AR.
How Many More
Guess what? He also slit that woman's throat. Convicted, he was sentenced to 12 years but served only 4 before gaining parole. I wonder if there are other girls or women out there who weren't lucky enough to survive his disposal methods. Are there missing girls or women that can be tied to him?
What's really scary is to think that when he did this to Jennifer, he was only 21. Apparently, he lived near the apartment complex from which she was abducted. Was she his first victim after he'd spent years building up to that by committing lesser crimes that went unnoticed?
Let Your Voices Be Heard
Contact your elected officials. There must be a better way to identify these predators, and there must be more accountability for them once they enter the system. I mean, he was incarcerated for what I think is a heinous crime - kidnap, rape and attempted murder by cutting a woman's throat - so why was he deemed no threat and given early release?
We should all take a lesson from Jennifer Schuett and refuse to be victims. I'm grateful that she had the courage to step forward and give a face to her ordeal, and that made her, not a victim, but, in her words, "victorious." With her attacker's arrest, she's truly victorious.
We writers always hear that persistence pays off. Most of us have the Calvin Coolidge quotation about persistence memorized. I'm glad that Detective Tim Cromie and Special Agent Richard Rennison embody the persistence Coolidge talked about. They never gave up. Never. Never. Thanks, guys.
(Cross-posted on Joan Slings Words.)