Archive for Sunday, December 11, 2011

Evidence found that may solve 1985 case

Joe Jones was convicted of a rape he didn't commit. He was exonerated through DNA evidence in 1992.

Joe Jones was convicted of a rape he didn't commit. He was exonerated through DNA evidence in 1992.

December 11, 2011


Exonerated, but still not free

Joe Jones was the first person in the state to be exonerated of a crime by DNA evidence, but life after prison has been difficult.

Joe Jones sits in his small sparse apartment just blocks from the capital building in Topeka. Jones is trying to get his life together these days after spending nearly eight years in prison for a rape but was cleared through DNA evidence.

Nearly 20 years after winning an exoneration, he's still trying to reclaim a life derailed by prison and drugs, while the victim remains convinced of his guilt. More


Summary of the case so far:

Based on eyewitness testimony, Joe Jones was convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in Topeka in 1985.

In 1992, with the help of a lawyer at Kansas University, Jones was exonerated by DNA evidence in one of the first DNA exoneration cases in the country.

No one else was ever arrested for the crime, though Jones’ defense team had a suspect they believe was the rapist.

The scientist who tested the DNA in 1992 said his office may still have some testable DNA evidence to be used to find a match in the national DNA database.

The Topeka Police Department has reopened the case and has located the original sexual assault kit. The KBI is evaluating the evidence to see if it can be tested for DNA.

Topeka police have located further evidence that may help solve a decades-old rape case.

Detective Adam Arensdorf with the Topeka Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation located in its evidence archives the original sexual assault kit and clothing collected after a 1985 unsolved rape in downtown Topeka.

The evidence includes some of the DNA that eventually freed Topeka man Joe Jones of the crime. Jones was exonerated in 1992 after DNA testing excluded him as the rapist, but no one else was ever arrested for the crime.

The case was reopened after a Lawrence Journal-World investigation revealed that the original scientist who tested the DNA still had some DNA material, stored in a cooler in California since 1992.

Arensdorf said the KBI will now evaluate the evidence it has to see if it’s still testable. If it’s not, he said, they’ll proceed with efforts to obtain the DNA evidence stored by the original DNA-testing firm.

If testing can produce a DNA profile, that information will be entered into the national DNA database, known as CODIS. When Jones was exonerated in 1992, such a database did not exist. The national database would then compare the DNA profile to offenders across the country. If a match were found, police will issue a search warrant to perform confirmation testing, Arensdorf said.

Police have also been in contact with the victim in the case, who now lives out of state, and she is willing to cooperate with the investigation, Arensdorf said.

Though the five-year statute of limitations for prosecution of rape cases in Kansas has long passed, Kansas law allows for prosecution of rape cases for up to one year after DNA evidence has identified a suspect.

Reporter Shaun Hittle can be reached at 832-7173. Follow him at


myopinion 6 years, 4 months ago

Please fix the errors and repeated paragraphs in this story. It really takes away from the importance of the facts.

Shaun Hittle 6 years, 4 months ago

All, Sorry it took so long to get the errors corrected. The errors were a result of some transferring issues when taking the story from our editing system and putting it up online.

My sincerest apologies.

Shaun Hittle LJW

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