Familial DNA testing helps identify serial rapist


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – An alleged serial rapist who was identified through familial DNA testing has been arrested.

37-year-old Shawn Wendling of Hillsville, Pennsylvania, is being held in the Portage County Jail.

He is suspected of targeting women in parks and bike trails in the areas of Portage, Stark, and Mahoning counties.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine stated that this familial DNA testing is reserved for the most serious unsolved crimes and serial cases with a public safety component, and that this case met all the necessary criteria to authorize the testing.

“Our BCI scientists worked exceptionally hard to conduct this complex testing, which ultimately identified a potential relative of the unknown attacker in the Combined DNA Index System. A team of local, state, and federal investigators then used that investigative lead to help pinpoint a suspect,” he said. “Approximately 14 hours after the familial DNA testing results were released, authorities made an arrest.”

Authorities with the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, Portage County Drug Task Force, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Poland Township Police Department, Stark County Park District, Portage County Park District, and Ohio Division of Wildlife investigated the case.

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