DNA hit helped Missoula deputies solve a 10-year-old rape case
NBC Montana was in the courtroom Monday when 42-year-old Arizona man Kenneth Whatley was charged with raping a Missoula woman back in 2003.
The break in the case happened in 2010 when officers entered Whatley's DNA into a nation-wide system of convicted felons. This was after he was convicted of aggravated drunk driving in Arizona.
Investigators say that sample matched up with DNA evidence collected in 2003 from a baseball cap left at a Missoula rape victim's house.
Whatley is accused of breaking into a Missoula woman's house by taking off a screen and crawling through a kitchen window.
Court records say he raped her, then tied her up and escaped.
We checked into Whatley's criminal history in Arizona and found two drunken driving convictions and a conviction for leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Nothing in his Arizona records hinted at a tie to Missoula, but in 2011 Missoula prosecutors filed a rape charge against him and detectives thank DNA sampling for it.
“When we submit DNA evidence to that system sometimes you get a match right back, sometimes you never get a match back, but it's a really important system to have in place and this I would say is a success story,” said Missoula Sheriff’s Department Detective Jason Johnson.
Right now Whatley is in jail on bond for $250,000. He's expected back in court later this month; NBC Montana will be there and we’ll let you know how it goes.