If it wasn't for DNA testing police say 31-year-old Antonio Pope would likely still be at large. Formal charges are still pending, but police say forensic evidence links Pope to two downtown Madison rape cases.
92-thousand samples make up the state's DNA database. Since 2000, all convicted felons have been entered into the system. That includes Antonio Pope, who according to court records has a lengthy criminal past involving drug use.
"Because he was in the system before, we were able to obtain photographs. When police photographs then matched the victim's descriptions all the indicators came together," says UW Police Chief Susan Riseling.
Pope is accused of sexually assaulting two UW female students. Police say his first victim was walking alone on Observatory Drive on November 29th. They say she was abducted at knife-point, driven to another location, sexually assaulted and then returned to the downtown area. Police say Pope repeated his actions on December 9th--this time targeting a woman on North Carroll Street.
"I've been doing this for over 20-years now. And, these things never cease to surprise you and not surprise you," says Riseling.
University Police and Madison Police have worked together from the start. DNA evidence was collected from both victims, and when a match was made police knew they were looking for one suspect.
"It's an investigative resource we are becoming more used to using as time goes on," says Madison Police Captain Tom Snyder.
Police say prior to the DNA match they were following up on other leads, but say the DNA test results gave them their big break.
"We're glad to be able to take this individual off the street and we hope this will end this particular chapter," says Riseling.
Madison police are not commenting on Pope's possible involvement in other on-going cases.
However, Fitchburg police are calling Pope a person of interest in an attempted sexual assault there this past Friday.
Pope remains in the Dane County Jail awaiting his initial court appearance.
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