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North Texas man pleads guilty to a series of rapes, sentenced to life in prison

North Texas man pleads guilty to a series of rapes, sentenced to life in prison
North Texas man pleads guilty to a series of rapes, sentenced to life in prison 02:05

COLLIN COUNTY – A North Texas man has pleaded guilty to a series of rapes that occurred nearly two decades ago.

Jeffery Wheat, 51, has been sentenced to life in prison for a case in Collin County and a case in Tarrant County, 30 years for a case in Dallas County and 20 years for a case in Denton County. 

Wheat has a total of four cases, one each in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton counties.

He was arrested in 2021 for assaulting a woman in 2003 after forensic genealogy confirmed he was the suspect.

Wheat became the subject of a nationwide manhunt after forensic technology linked him to the four cold cases. This was the first time that technology, called Forensic Genetic Genealogy, was used to identify an offender in Collin County. It uses genetic information from direct-to-consumer companies to find a match. 

Wheat's first case was in Arlington in 2003, when he broke into a woman's house in the middle of the night and assaulted her. 

The other three cases were in 2011 in Plano, Coppell, and Corinth and all involved women in their 50s or 60s who were members of the same sorority.

The sorority had used a credit card processing company that employed Wheat. 

Tuesday morning, Wheat accepted a plea deal made by prosecutors in the four counties and was sentenced to life in prison. Three women gave victim impact statements.

One, the daughter of one of Wheat's victims, talked about him stealing her mother's self-dignity, self-worth, and feeling of truly being loved. But she said today was victorious knowing that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. 

"Each woman's pain was felt, and it had to be expressed," she said. "So it was very hard but yet easy to speak on each woman's behalf. And it was really empowering. It was very important to do that and to make sure justice was served."

While Wheat appeared in Colln County, judges from Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant Counties all joined via Zoom to accept his plea and sentence him. The sentences will run concurrently.  

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