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DNA genealogy test led police to arrest in decades-old cold case

Man accused of multiple rapes in 90s
stoney brown.png
Posted at 10:31 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 11:35:55-04

CINCINNATI — DNA technology is a real-life game changer for local law enforcement, and it recently led to the arrest of an alleged serial rapist in Cincinnati accused of crimes that date back to the mid-1990s.

Cincinnati Police arrested 62-year-old Stoney Brown Saturday, and charged him with 11 counts of rape, four counts of kidnapping and four counts of burglary in crimes he allegedly committed in the Clifton area.

“Short of murder it’s the worst type of crime you can commit, to break into someone’s home, hold a knife to their throat, and rape them. In one case the woman had a 2-year-old baby laying next to her,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

Brown flew under the radar in Cincinnati for years, until someone in his family sent their DNA to a genealogy website to explore their family roots.

That led law enforcement right to his doorstep.

Jamie Sivrais is the founder of A Voice for the Innocent, a non-profit created to support survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

“It started because I was abused when I was a kid,” he said.

He said there are several roadblocks that sometimes keep people from reporting sex crimes.

“If they know that ‘Well, they’re not going to convict them or whatever because they don’t have any kind of criminal record then what’s the point of doing that?’ And this is just another way to tear down that barrier and saying, ‘Look, we have other alternative ways to find that person,’” he said.

One of those new ways is law enforcement’s access to DNA from popular genealogy websites, which led them to Brown, accused of raping women in the Clifton area more than 20 years ago.

Prosecutor Deters says DNA in Brown’s trash confirmed the match to a DNA profile assembled years ago. The prosecutor’s office had indicted “John Doe” for the rapes in 2008.

“We had a few relatives close to the people that submitted the DNA. One of them was the current suspect,” Deters said.

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco calls the technology a “game changer."

“When we get genealogy information related to the Y chromosome and the male genealogy in the family tree, it helps us narrow down some of these suspects,” she said.

Brown is currently being held in the Hamilton County Jail on a $4 million bond, and he could face 190 years in prison.

“I think it’s a really good thing. Anything that can help break down barriers for survivors who are looking for help,” Sivrais said.

If you have information on this case, law enforcement asks that you contact Cincinnati Police or the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

WCPO has chosen to use a mugshot in this story because officials believe there could be additional victims. Read more about our mugshot policy here.