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DNA hit helped Missoula deputies solve a 10-year-old rape case

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Jan 14 2013 10:58:03 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 15 2013 08:31:33 AM MST
A DNA hit helped Missoula deputies solve a 10-year-old rape case
MISSOULA, Mont. -

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.