DNA identifies three Indiana girls’ abductor
Indianapolis, Indiana – Unexpectedly, a man who passed away in a Texas jail more than thirty years ago has been recognized as the person responsible for the kidnapping and severe beating of three young girls in Indiana almost fifty years ago. Investigators finally identified the attacker as Thomas Edward Williams, thanks to developments in forensic genetic genealogy and DNA evidence.
The horrific event occurred in August 1975 when the girls—who were hitchhiking in Indianapolis and ages 11, 13, and 14—were kidnapped. They were driven to a cornfield in suburban Hancock County by Williams, who at the time lived nearby, where they suffered unspeakable horrors. Two of the girls had their throats slashed, and one had been raped and stabbed in the chest and throat. Miraculously, they managed to flag down a passing motorist for help.
The case remained unsolved despite the courage of the survivors and the relentless efforts of law enforcement. But in 2018, the three women, now adults, contacted the police, sparking a new investigation and leading to the examination of previously acquired evidence from the crime scene. After completing this vital step, the evidence allowed the creation of a complete DNA profile of an unidentified male, which was subsequently compared to two other DNA profiles found elsewhere.
Last year, investigators submitted the DNA profile to DNA Labs International, a renowned forensic laboratory in Florida, where the latest cutting-edge forensic technology was employed. Ancestry analysis played a pivotal role in identifying the suspect’s children, and samples from Williams’ relatives further confirmed his identification as the attacker.
Deputy Chief Kendale Adams of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department expressed gratitude for the dedication and perseverance of the detectives and partners involved in this almost half-century-long investigation. This breakthrough represents a significant milestone and brings closure to a case that has haunted the survivors and the community for decades.
The three women—Kandice Smith, Sheri Rottler Trick, and Kathie Rottler—shared their emotional journeys and vowed to keep pushing law enforcement to track down their attacker at a press conference on Thursday. While Rottler Trick disclosed that she had forgiven the man who had attacked her to carry on with her life, Smith conveyed a feeling of serenity in her heart.
Thomas Edward Williams’s identification as the culprit in this tragic case is a testament to the strength of DNA technology and the unwavering resolve of those pursuing justice. This discovery also serves as a sobering reminder that no case is ever fully closed and that justice can still win, even after years of uncertainty, as the survivors recover from their horrific past.
Note: The Associated Press doesn’t generally identify people who have been sexually assaulted unless they voluntarily identify themselves.