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This 'CSI: Miami' actress was threatened by a stalker for 12 years. The FBI caught him after he left his DNA on a fast-food straw – WRAL Information

Warning: This story has disturbing content material associated to threats of sexual violence.

The threatening letters started in March 2007.

They got here within the mail to Eva LaRue’s Southern California home — typically handwritten, typically typed — from an unknown sender who referred to as himself “Freddie Krueger” and vowed to rape and kill her and her younger daughter.

The letters — greater than three dozen of them — stored on coming for greater than 12 years, a relentless psychological assault that made the “CSI: Miami” actress and her household afraid to step outdoors their dwelling.

Early on, some letters talked about LaRue’s daughter, then 5. However in 2015, letters started arriving addressed to the kid. The stalker additionally started calling LaRue’s daughter’s faculty, saying that he was her father and was outdoors to select her up.

However with the assistance of genetic family tree, a science that was used for the primary time in California to seize the Golden State Killer, the FBI in 2019 was in a position to take DNA from the envelopes and run it by way of a database, yielding a listing of the suspect’s family. This ultimately led them to a small city in Ohio, the place they arrested a 58-year-old man after pulling his DNA from a discarded Arby’s straw.

James David Rogers was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in federal jail. The Heath, Ohio, man pleaded responsible in April to 2 counts of mailing threatening communications, one rely of threats by interstate communications, and two counts of stalking.

“I forgive you, however I can’t neglect,” LaRue advised him on the sentencing in a Los Angeles County courtroom. “The concern is with me ceaselessly.”

12 years of terror

LaRue is a former magnificence queen and longtime actress who appeared for a few years as a physician on the cleaning soap opera “All My Kids.” She’s in all probability greatest identified for her seven seasons on the crime drama “CSI: Miami,” ending in 2012.

Her character was a DNA analyst for the Miami-Dade Police Division, which grew to become a bitter irony when authorities discovered DNA on envelopes containing the threatening letters however could not pinpoint a suspect.

LaRue was halfway by way of her second full season on “CSI: Miami” when the primary letter confirmed up at her home. Others quickly adopted.

“I’m going to [explicative] stalk you till the day you die,” mentioned one, in keeping with a 2019 federal indictment of Rogers.

“There will probably be no place on this earth that I … (cannot) discover you. I’m going to rape you,” mentioned one other letter, through which the stalker additionally threatened to rape and impregnate LaRue’s daughter.

The letters had been signed “Freddie Krueger,” the fictional killer from the horror movie collection “A Nightmare on Elm Road.” Many had been postmarked from Youngstown, Ohio.

LaRue advised CNN she was so terrified that she ultimately offered her home and moved along with her household to Italy, the place they lived for a number of months with a buddy. She then returned to California and acquired a brand new home underneath an LLC — a enterprise entity that gives restricted legal responsibility safety — to defend her identification, however the letters started exhibiting up at that deal with as properly, she mentioned.

LaRue and her daughter “drove circuitous routes dwelling, slept with weapons close by and had discussions about methods to search assist shortly if [Rogers] discovered them and tried to hurt them,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“They tried to anonymize their addresses as a lot as attainable by avoiding receiving mail and packages at their precise deal with,” prosecutors mentioned. “To no avail. Every time they moved, [the] letters — and the victims’ terror — would at all times comply with.”

In 2015, the household began receiving letters addressed to LaRue’s daughter. On the time, she was about 13.

“I’m the person who has been stalking for (the) final 7 years. Now I’ve set my eye on you too,” the primary one learn, in keeping with the indictment. One other one learn, “You look so lovely in your photos on Google. Are you able to be the mom of my baby.”

How the FBI caught the stalker

The FBI collected DNA from most of the envelopes however did not know whose it was till 2019, once they turned to the rising subject of genetic family tree — the identical technique that had fingered the Golden State Killer the earlier 12 months.

Thanks partly to firms corresponding to 23andMe, Ancestry and GEDmatch, genetic family tree has grow to be a useful instrument for regulation enforcement officers making an attempt to resolve outdated crimes. Authorities add a DNA information file to a public database to establish any family of the one that may need submitted their DNA for testing. They then construct out household timber and slender down attainable suspects through old school detective work till a lead suspect emerges.

Even so, investigators nonetheless should get hold of a pattern of the suspect’s DNA and make a match earlier than they’ll make an arrest.

As soon as the proof pointed to Rogers, FBI brokers started surveilling him. FBI brokers traveled to Ohio within the fall of 2019, former FBI particular agent Stephen Busch and former FBI lawyer Steve Kramer advised CNN.

When Rogers left his job as a nurse’s assistant at an assisted residing facility and went to an Arby’s on his manner dwelling, the FBI adopted and watched him eat his meal and discard the bag in a Dumpster, Busch and Kramer mentioned.

Brokers raided the Dumpster and extracted Rogers’ DNA from a soda straw within the bag, Busch and Kramer mentioned. It matched the DNA from the envelopes despatched to LaRue and her daughter, they mentioned.

The FBI arrested Rogers at his dwelling early one morning in November 2019.

Rogers’ conviction marks the primary time genetic family tree has solved a case on the federal stage, Busch and Kramer advised CNN.

Their concern nonetheless lingers

At his sentencing Thursday, Rogers advised the choose through a video hyperlink from Ohio that he grew up in an abusive dwelling and was bullied in class. He mentioned he’s receiving psychological well being therapy.

“I sincerely apologize for what I did for the final 12 years, placing you and your loved ones by way of hellish habits,” he mentioned to LaRue. “I settle for full duty. I hope you may put this behind you and in some unspecified time in the future by no means take into consideration me once more.”

LaRue then addressed Rogers in her sufferer influence assertion, thanking him for his apology however telling the choose, “I’m so nervous what is going to occur when he will get out out.”

She grew emotional as she advised the courtroom how the repeated threats took a toll on her and her household and disadvantaged them of fundamental freedoms.

“We’ve got had years of this,” she mentioned. “That is past deviant habits.”

LaRue’s daughter Kaya Callahan, now 20, additionally grew to become emotional as she advised the courtroom how she was traumatized by Rogers’ threats.

After Rogers contacted her faculty, she mentioned there was such “paranoia” about her security that she was escorted day-after-day to and from the college constructing to the parking zone.

“I used to be afraid for my life,” she mentioned. Callahan mentioned her concern nonetheless lingers.

“I wish to really feel OK once more,” she mentioned. “Protected.”

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