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DNA Evidence Leads To Arrest In Grisly San Mateo Rape, Attempted Murder Cold Case From 1989

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) -- A man has been arrested 32 years after a shocking home invasion, rape and attempted murder of a woman in San Mateo after new DNA evidence was obtained in the case, police announced Thursday.

On February 4, 1989, a man entered an occupied apartment in the 3100 block of Casa De Campo and after grabbing a knife from the kitchen, went into the victim's bedroom. He then climbed into her bed and proceeded to rape, choke, stab and slice the victim's throat - just missing her jugular vein, police said.

Despite her injuries, the woman managed to fight back and negotiate with the suspect who kept his face covered with a bandanna, convincing him to leave the apartment.

Despite a comprehensive investigation and multiple people interviewed, police were not able to determine who was responsible. For over three decades, DNA evidence in the case was periodically resubmitted following advances in DNA technology. Last December, investigators obtained a match.

John Harris Jr
John Harris Jr. as he appeared in 1989 and in his 2001 booking photo. (San Mateo Police Department)

The suspect was identified as John Harris Jr., who lived in the same neighborhood as the victim but was not known to her, police said. Over the past 30 years, Harris was believed to have lived primarily in San Joaquin County, and in 2020 he lived in Arizona, police said.

On Wednesday, Harris was arrested in Manteca and booked at San Mateo County Main Jail on $500,000 bail.

"We've reached out to the victim in this case and understandably she's relieved and appreciative to hear the news," said San Mateo Police Chief Ed Barberini during a news conference Thursday. "Our hearts go out to her. She's lived for 32 years of, of something I can't imagine and I don't think any of us can. While we're announcing the arrest of a suspect in this case, our hearts and thoughts are with the victim."

The investigation and arrest was a collaborative effort among the San Mateo County District Attorney's Investigators, San Francisco and Los Angeles Divisions of the FBI, Manteca Police, and San Mateo Police Detectives.

Police said it's believed there may be additional victims and additional DNA is being processed. Anyone with information about Harris was urged to contact San Mateo Police Department's Investigation Bureau at (650) 522-7650. Anonymous tips can be submitted to or by calling (650) 522-7676.



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