Advancement in DNA Technology Ends East Texas Sexual Assault Case

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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Sheriff’s Office attributes groundbreaking DNA technology after a man from Mineola pleaded guilty to sexual assault this week.

Sergeant Noel Martin praises this breakthrough after placing a sexual assailant behind bars. Caylon whittington, 30, pleaded guilty and accepted a 15-year prison sentence on Monday by the 241st Smith County District Court.

DNA evidence led to the arrest of Whittington, who was accused of inappropriately touching a girl while she was sleeping at Sky Ranch Christian Camp in 2015.

On March 8, 2015, Smith County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report from a assault on Sky Ranch Camp on County Road 448 near Van. MPs learned that a white man snuck into a cabin at night and inappropriately touched a sleeping 9-year-old girl.

The girl was attending a Green Acres Baptist Church children’s retreat at the camp.

Whittington was arrested in Llano County on April 6 and transferred to Smith County Jail on April 19, according to information from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. It’s a case that Sheriff Larry Smith said took a long time to piece together.

“It took from then, from the time we submitted the evidence we have, until months and months later, how long it took to recover DNA evidence,” Sheriff Smith said.

Whittington was questioned at the time of the crime, but it wasn’t until six years later that the evidence could justify an arrest.

“We collect the evidence at the scene, submit it to the DPS for DNA profiles. If we don’t have a known sample to compare it with, it goes into the CODIS database or it stays until a result is obtained from another sample, ”said Sgt. Noël Martin.

In the fall of 2020, the DNA samples collected matched those from Whittington in a national database called “CODIS” or “Combined DNA Index System”.

“A known sample of him entered the CODIS system, a match was generated from the evidence when this matter occurred.”

Sgt. Noel Martin, Smith County Sheriff’s Office

The Smith County Sheriff’s Office told KETK it was relying on that same DNA technology to solve these grueling unresolved cases.

“It gives hope to people who have family members for past murder cases that have not been resolved.” We can certainly look at these cold cases and we are currently looking at several of them right now. “


NOEL MARTIN, SERGEANT, OFFICE OF THE SHERIFF OF SMITH COUNTY


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