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Friday, October 18, 2013

DNA leads to arrest of suspect in 2004 purse snatching: Ottawa cops

 DNA evidence has helped nab a man who allegedly stole a woman's purse nine years ago.
It was Aug. 31, 2004 at about 10 p.m. when a man approached a mother and daughter walking near Lawson Ave. and Prince Albert St. in Ottawa. The mother was pushed to the ground but when the suspect tried to take her purse, she held on and was dragged across the street.
"The suspect then gestured that he would assault the victim and made a demand to let go of the purse," police said.
The woman relinquished her handbag and the man took off.
On Friday, Robert Lanthier, 31, was identified as a suspect in the case and charged with one count of robbery.
Police said they were able to collect DNA at the scene and create a profile. That sample eventually landed in an unsolved case database when they were unable to match the genetic material to a suspect, said Staff Sgt. Michael Haarbosch of the Ottawa Police robbery unit.
The case remained unsolved until police recently got a hit on the DNA linking Lanthier to the crime. The man is already in custody on an unrelated matter.
"This is one of the oldest ones, if not the oldest one, that I've seen," said Haarbosch.
Closing an old robbery case does happen - Haarbosch recalled one in 2006 - but it's not common.
"We have them come up from time to time," he said.
Was the victim surprised a charge was laid?
"Nine years later? I would think, yeah," said Haarbosch.

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