DNA sample leads to arrests for sexual assault in 2003 cold case

The Anchorage Police Department arraigned two suspects on Thursday in a sexual assault case from 2003. They say they re-opened the case after a DNA sample from one of the suspects matched the sample taken from the victim nearly 11 years ago.

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According to the police department, in November of 2003 a woman was leaving a bar in midtown Anchorage. Her ride had left the bar already, so she accepted a lift from an unknown male. Instead of taking her home, she says she was taken to an east Anchorage apartment. She reported she was brutally sexually assaulted by at least seven young men. The men eventually left her at a shopping center. Within a few hours she reported the incident to the police and was examined.

Detective Bret Sarber speaks about recent arrests in a cold case from 2003.
Detective Bret Sarber speaks about recent arrests in a cold case from 2003.

Detective Bret Sarber said in 2003, the survivor was unable to provide details about the suspects or where the attack happened. The case went cold until 2011. Then, Orlin Sutliff was convicted of a third degree felony and his DNA was entered into a database. In Alaska, DNA samples are taken from people who are convicted of misdemeanor crimes against other people and of all felonies. Sutliff’s DNA matched with one of the samples collected off of the woman.

“We got one lead off a DNA hit that lead to multiple interviews and hundreds of hours of investigation,” said Sarber during a press conference. “And here we are with two people who have been indicted and we have other people we believe to have been involved in the case.”

He said without the survivor reporting early, they could not have pursued the case. “Early reporting is critical for getting DNA evidence off a person’s body. So I would highly encourage that.”

The detectives explained that when people who are allegedly sexually assaulted are examined, forensic nurses collect samples that are sent to the crime lab to extract different DNA profiles. Victims are also given counseling and treated for other medical concerns, like potential sexually transmitted diseases from the assault.

31-year-old Orlin Sutliff and 29-year-old Antwon Archibale were arrested and arraigned earlier this week. The police do have “persons of interest” under investigation.



After being told innumerable times that maybe she asked too many questions, Anne Hillman decided to pursue a career in journalism. She's reported from around Alaska since 2007 and briefly worked as a community radio journalism trainer in rural South Sudan.
ahillman (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8447  |  About Anne

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