Investigators found a suspect in a Green Bay rape case that officers thought would never be solved. In a story you'll only see on Action 2 News, DNA from the suspect's father led to the big break in the case.
A man police call a "serial rapist" is finally behind bars, accused of sexually assaulting, kidnapping and robbing random women in Green Bay and Milwaukee and attempting to do it again in Minneapolis.
Police used familial DNA for the first time in Green Bay to solve this difficult case.
More than two years ago, Green Bay police began investigating a brutal rape at an east-side apartment.
"The worst-case scenario of the innocent victim being accosted by a stranger in the dark is exactly what this was," Capt. Jim Runge, Green Bay Police, said.
A criminal complaint says the woman "was suddenly struck in the back of her head with a handgun" as she walked up the stairs.
The man forced her into an apartment and repeatedly sexually assaulted her, at one point talking about "killing her," then he suddenly left.
Police collected DNA from the rape kit.
It didn't match anyone in the databank but it did match DNA taken from two other rape cases in Milwaukee a year earlier.
"The Crime Lab picked this case because they thought, OK, we've got multiple offenses, same person. We don't know who it is, so they wanted to try the familial DNA technology, and that's really what put the case together," Runge said.
Just last year, Wisconsin became one of the few states to allow familial DNA testing. "When I say familial, that's just it, a family member who's in the system that has the same genetic material," Runge explained.
Runge says a partial hit came back to a man who turned out to be the suspect's father, whose DNA was collected for an unrelated crime.
The finding led police to the son, 22-year-old Charles Banister, whose DNA, they say, was a perfect match to their crimes.
Banister was already in custody in Minneapolis, charged with breaking into a woman's home there, trying to strangle her in the shower and threatening to kill her before roommates intervened.
He was transported to Milwaukee County, where prosecutors charged Banister with 10 felonies. He's now awaiting trial.
"DNA is a great thing. It doesn't mean we still don't have to do our job of interviewing people, collecting evidence, knocking on doors, documenting. All that still has to be done."
Runge says familial DNA is meant as a last resort for these violent, hard-to-solve cases and requires a special search by the Crime Lab, but it gives them a place to start looking when they're at a dead end.
"I think it's going to help solve some crimes here down the road."