2007-01-26 / Front Page

'Cold Hit' Links Hammels Man To Rape

By Brian Magoolaghan

DNA evidence stored in a nationwide database has linked a Hammels man to a savage knifepoint rape and robbery that took place last summer, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced late last week.

Antonio Ortiz' DNA profile, which was stored in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), matched evidence collected after a 37-year-old houseguest was raped last August inside a home in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, said Brown.

The woman, a guest in the home, awoke to find Ortiz, who identified himself as a police officer, standing over her holding a knife, according to Brown. When the woman tried to flee, Ortiz shoved her back on the bed and forcibly raped her. He then stripped her of her money, gold jewelry and other personal effects and fled.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified due to the nature of the alleged incident, was treated at an area hospital. Medical personnel prepared a sexual assault evidence kit in which samples of semen, saliva, sweat, blood and/or hair are taken. Earlier this month, investigators learned that the DNA from the kit matched Ortiz' profile that was entered in the system after he was convicted of robbery in Brooklyn. Law enforcement professionals call such a match a "cold hit" because the DNA provides the critical first link between the suspect and the crime.

Brown said the case is a clear-cut example of CODIS' effectiveness. "This case underscores yet again the crucial importance of DNA evidence," said Brown who added that Ortiz might have escaped prosecution if he wasn't "ultimately done in by his own genes."

"I hope the victim in this case feels a sense of comfort knowing that her alleged perpetrator has been apprehended and is being held behind bars," Brown added.

Detectives from the NYPD's Queens Special Victims Squad quickly arrested Ortiz of 85-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard without incident. He was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on the charges of first degree rape, first degree criminal sexual act, first degree burglary and first degree criminal impersonation. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Ortiz is due back in court on February 5.

Ortiz' Queens Law Associates attorney did not return our call seeking comment for this story.

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