DNA from 1989 sexual battery leads to arrest in Boca Raton

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Jerome Burdi

Published September 23, 2010


DNA evidence lead Boca Raton police this week to an arrest in a 21-year-old rape case where a man used a knife to attack a woman.


John Leonard McKenzie, 59, of Boynton Beach, was arrested on Wednesday, charged with armed sexual battery and armed burglary with a battery.

"The DNA was key," police spokeswoman Sandra Boonenberg said. "Our evidence custodians on a regular basis go through cold cases."

The unidentified victim said she is happy to see her attacker arrested.

"I just wanted to be thankful to God, first of all, for the technology that we have to be able to [make an arrest]," she said to WPTV-Ch. 5 on Thursday.

According to police, the attack occurred about 3:15 p.m. on March 15, 1989. The victim had just finished washing her car in the parking lot of her apartment complex in the 1900 block of Northwest Fourth Avenue.

Police says DNA links man to 1989 Boca Raton rape case


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She returned to her apartment, leaving the door open. A few minutes later, as she was in the kitchen, she turned around and was confronted by an intruder. He was armed with a large knife.

The man grabbed the victim and led her to the living room, where he closed the door. He then led the victim to the bedroom, where he made her take off her bathing suit. While she was trying to take off her top, the rapist used the knife to cut it off, cutting the victim's hand in the process, police said.

The man then sexually battered the victim and ran out of the apartment.

"It took a while to feel safe or secure, but I don't think about it [the attack] every day," the victim said.

DNA evidence was not an investigative tool used at the time of the crime and police never named or arrested a suspect.

On June 28, 2006, a police evidence custodian was reviewing evidence from cold cases and submitted the sexual battery exam kit to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office lab for analysis.

This year, on July 29, detectives received information that the DNA matched McKenzie's.

After receiving a warrant, Boca Raton detectives arrested him. There was no statute of limitations because of the nature of the crime, police said.

McKenzie has a long arrest sheet starting in 1967 and Boca Raton's arrest is his 30th, state records show. Among his arrests are weapons, drug and child abuse charges, state records show. McKenzie is currently on a 5-year probation for carrying a concealed weapon, records show.

"I will feel justice is being served when he's sentenced, but finding out today that he was not able to get bond, that was a great victory," the victim told the TV station.


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