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Will Dennis Earl Bradford's DNA Bring Justice for Jennifer Schuett 19 Years After Rape?

(Personal Photo)
Jennifer Schuett

NEW YORK (CBS) If the FBI has it right, Dennis Earl Bradford almost got away with it.

19 years ago, Jennifer Schuett was abducted, raped and left for dead at the age of eight, in Dickinson, Texas. She survived, but her assailant walked free.

Now, nearly two decades after the unspeakable attack, police have arrested Bradford, a 40-year-old welder living in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for the assault.

Bradford was taken in without incident near his home this morning. He is charged with attempted capital murder.

CBS News' policy is to not identify victims of sex crimes, but Schuett recently told her story to the national press in the hope of finding her attacker.

See More of her story at CBS affiilate KHOU
EXCLUSIVE PICTURES: Crime Scene in 1990.

According to an October 7, 2009 affidavit, Schuett was taken from her bedroom against her will on August 10, 1990.

Bradford then allegedly drove Schuett to a remote location, sexually assaulted her, and slit her throat from ear to ear, leaving her for dead.

She could not scream. Her voice box was severed.

She was discovered approximately 14 hours later by children playing in a nearby field, according to the affidavit.

(FBI)
Jennifer's Schuett's description of her attacker to a sketch artist in 1990 turned out to be amazingly similar to Dennis Earl Bradford's driver's license picture from the time.

"This event in my life was a tragic one," Schuett said during a press conference announcing the arrest. "Today, 19 years later, I stand here and want you all to know that I am OK. I am not a victim, but instead, victorious."

"I hope that my case will remain as a reminder to all victims of violent crime to never give up hope ... With determination and by using your voice to speak out, you are capable of anything," Schuett said.

After working the case for years, the Dickinson Police Department requested FBI assistance 18 months ago in developing new leads.

Key pieces of evidence were sent to an FBI laboratory for testing. Because of advances in DNA testing, says the agency, a DNA profile was successfully extracted, and that matched Bradford's, which was already stored in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database because of an earlier arrest.

The FBI said the following in a press release issued today:

"Research conducted immediately after receiving news of the genetic match indicated that Bradford was arrested in 1987 in Dickinson for traffic offenses. His address of record at the time of the arrest was 500 Tanglewood in Dickinson, less than one quarter of a mile from Jennifer Schuett's residential address of 3206 Lobit Drive."

(FBI)
Photo: Jennifer Schuett in second grade.

"Galveston County District Attorney Sistrunk advises that if Bradford chooses to fight extradition, a Governor's Warrant will be issued and hearings will be held in Arkansas to resolve the issue. In the coming weeks, a date will be scheduled to present the charge and the evidence to a Galveston County grand jury for indictment."

Bradford is currently being held in Pulaski County, Arkansas, awaiting extradition.

Schuett spoke with CNN earlier this year. In the interview, Schuett "says she was alone in her bed when a man crept in through a window. She remembers waking up in a stranger's arms as he carried her across a dark parking lot."

"He drove her through the streets of Dickinson, Texas, pulling into a mechanic's shop next to her elementary school," CNN reported.

"Schuett said he drove her to an overgrown field next to the school and sexually assaulted her. She passed out. When she regained consciousness, she was lying naked on top of an ant hill with her throat slashed from ear to ear, and her voice box torn."

Today, her voice is anything but silent.

See More of her story at CBS affiilate KHOU
EXCLUSIVE PICTURES: Crime Scene in 1990.

  • Ryan Smith

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